Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Light it up Gold - 2015

Communication is a funny thing.

Even when we talk, there can be a lack of communication.

However, there is much more to communication than the speaking and understanding of words.

One of the traits commonly attributed to autistics is an inability to recognise or interpret non-verbal signals such as body language and facial expression.
To an extent that is partially true.

The problem works both ways, however, with non-autistics failing to recognise autistic communication as such, or simply misreading it.

This is not at all unique to communication between autistics and non-autistics.

The sunset image here is taken from a photo captured by my daughter last summer while studying in France. French is not her native language, though she is close to fluent. Despite this, I heard tales periodically of communication breakdown - not because of spoken language barriers, but because of cultural differences.

Things she expected to be simple were treated as complex; matters that had her fretting were regarded by the French as straightforward administrative processes.

It was not the language that created communication barriers, but expectations and assumptions.

When we stand, metaphorically, on opposite banks of a wide river it should be no surprise that clear communication is at times difficult to achieve.
We should expect this, autistic and non-autistic alike, but not be resigned to it.

There are bridges.

However, unless we expect them to exist, seek them out, and use them to our common advantage, communication will fail.

The obligation to seek new points of contact, to listen, to think creatively - this lies on us all. There is no honour or dignity in assuming there is a fault and that it lies with 'them'.

When we bridge that space, and achieve clear, honest communication we discover how much we really have in common, and how much we have to offer each other.

That is when our communities can work shoulder to shoulder to become a truly unified and mutually supportive society.

It starts when we all listen with open ears, when we look without judgement, ask questions as equals, and respect the ideas and opinions we encounter.

Light it up GOLD for Autistic communication

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