Autistic Spectrum Digest (Autism) Issue 22, September 2015 - Page 54

Autism You're probably familiar with the conceptual models of communication. In many of those models, communication is represented as the transmission of a message between a sender and a receiver. If you apply this model to an oral conversation, you quickly see all the opportunities for miscommunication: From what the sender means, to what they actually say, to what the receiver hears, to what they understand, information can change radically, especially when you consider nonverbal communication. It's like a 2-person variation of the telephone game. In the words of psychologist Tony Attwood: Every day people make intuitive guesses regarding what someone may be thinking or feeling. Most of the time we are right but the system is not faultless. We are not perfect mind readers. Social interactions would be so much easier if typical people said exactly what they mean with no assumptions or ambiguity. If this is the case for neurotypical people, meaning people with a "typical" brain, imagine how challenging it can be for autists like me. A great analogy is given in the movie The Imitation Game, inspired by the life of Alan Turing, who is portrayed in the film as being on the autism spectrum. 54