The most important thing I have learned about myself and how I relate to the world as an autistic person is just how very much "context" matters in our communications with one another. Take a look at ths simple example of how I might get caught in a "context" mix up.


You see I have very poor ability to abstract concepts and language. So while I am not a stupid human being and I do know that Uncle Harry is coming for dinner, it is quite possible that I would not put all those things together when my Mother asks me to open the door. (This is especially true if I am deeply involved in a project of special interest) The result of this context mix up is that my Mother gets mad at me and thinks I am stupid. I get mad at her because I did exactly as she said to do. We go both very right but neither of us "getting it right".

I first connect this concept of context and autism in an anthropology class at Intel and it is the basis of this entire blog (that is how important the concept is to a good quality of life for austic people in an NT world) Here are other examples of how one may get in a context mix-up without either person knowing what is happening.


The first step to making communications better between ASD/NTs is awareness. When I mentor young people (NT or not), I always teach self awareness and continuous improvement as human beings. Knowing that language is so complicated and literal thinking can cause these issues is the first step. Identifying the times it happens is not that hard from there. Being aware that although you are "right" in your literal context that others have an equally valid view is also critical.


As you get better at identifying these out-of-context events, it becomes easier and easier to get along with other people. Before I understood this differnce in communication I would have many arguments with my friends. (those who know me also know that I always used to put people in my "idiot bucket" because it happened so frequently) Today we have ZERO arguments. That's right. Not one. You see every misunderstanding we have ever had in the past was due to me coming into the conversation from a very different perspective. Today we stop and ask clarifying questions to one another and usually laugh at how very different we see things as a result. Laughter is so much better than arguing.

It is awesome!