Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Circuitous Route to Language

I've yet to research this, but in therapy yesterday I came across an interesting insight into my thought and language process: sometimes, when I want to recall something I want to share, I need to go "the long way" through a series of steps that get me to the point.

For example, J asked, "Tell me again what that idea [you shared yesterday] about the weekend was?"

In order to tell him, I will think and say something like, "So, as I was telling you yesterday, because I have been feeling lately that we aren't getting enough exercise, I was thinking about maybe this weekend going bike riding".

This is a theoretical example (and may be understating the way I do this), but it does convey something about my speech and thought process. I actually need to start where I started, and reiterate the thought in almost the same way I shared it before. If I don't do this, I can experience a kind of "speech impotence" where I just. can't. get. words. out.

From the point of view of people with "normal" cognitive processes or speech abilities, I used a whole lot of extra words to take a long time to "get to the point". It may be entirely frustrating to listen to me, with all my redundancies and circuitous speech.

Interestingly, I can be more "clear" with the lights off, and with some grounding physical contact. I've noticed that some people with AS close their eyes when they speak. This could be an adaptive strategy to reduce input. As annoying as it is to listen to someone who has their eyes closed and therefore is taking in no information about their listener(s), I can see how it'd be useful if the words just aren't coming as fluidly as I wish.

I'm not sure what this circuitous language process is called, but my therapist said she has known other people who do this kind of thing, and at this point, I can't change it but can develop strategies to deal with it. In the meantime, I hope the people around me continue to have patience as I take "the long way".


singing_moose said...

I do this, as well. Not quite exactly the same, perhaps, but I DO have to begin with the context of the information I am going to relate. Then it is in chronological order. "The long way."

Karen said...

singing_moose: The context! Exactly :) I didn't think of it that way. And that the context isn't for the other person as much as it is for me.

Isabel Espinal said...

wow. I do this too.

I am reading all these autistic blogs and books like crazy ever since I came across Rachel's blog and started to wonder if I also was autistic. (I am 46 years old. This had never occurred to me before and no one had ever suggested it. I really did not know much about what autism was until now.)

I keep having these wow moments as I read the blogs and books. All these things I do that autistic people do.

Often when I am asked a question, I have to go to this process of getting back to the context before I can answer the question. This happened a lot when I was in court for my divorce. The judge kept saying "Please just answer the question." I found that almost impossible to do without going into long stories. I was not trying to avoid the question - I was just trying to get to the answer.

Karen said...

Dear Isabel,
Wow indeed, I can imagine that court is the last place one would want any kind of communication difficulty.

Self-discovery is such a mixed bag, eh? I find myself coming to terms with stuff that is both hard to deal with, but ultimately it is positive to have the awareness. Some things have improved just through awareness.

Welcome, and I hope you continue to share your insights with us. We always need more voices.


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