Autism - it’s communicating without emojis!
08 Jan 2020
by The Autism Service

We have all been there … sent a text message that the recipient doesn’t understand - or sent a text that has been taken completely the wrong way to what was intended!

So easily done….it is nigh on impossible to read emotion through a written text message without any further cues as to its intended meaning.

You cannot see the look on the face of the person as they type - see whether they are giggling which would indicate their message was jovial, see whether they are rolling their eyes…..

Here we explore how being autistic brings huge challenges from a communication point of view.

Did you know: 93% of our communication is non-verbal.

I bet that’s higher than you thought it would be, isn't it?

But when you actually think about how we communicate (with our hands, facial expressions, nodding, tone of voice etc..) and what we do when we are talking that figure becomes quite realistic.

Try telling someone where the door is in the room you are sitting right now without pointing your hand or gesturing towards it.

Try celebrating - as if you have just won the lottery - without moving your arms.

Reassure the person across the room from you that all will be ok - without making any signal with your hands or changing your facial expression … we bet they are not that convinced!

Communicating is far more than just words.

Emojis are commonly used in text messaging now because they get across feelings and facial expressions to allow the person you are communicating with to understand what you are trying to get across.

Look at the difference between the sentences below:

I don’t think I can be your friend anymore
I don’t think I can be your friend anymore.

But all around us there are people who struggle to identify non-verbal gestures and cues such as facial expressions, the cues that aid social interaction across the board - those with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Many children and young people with Autism are living a life without any emojis to give them guidance on what people are trying to say to them.

It means that socialising and communicating can be challenging and they find difficulty in knowing when to speak and when to listen, how to react - and when to react.

Just as you would if you were unable to read the signs - and in turn if you did not know which facial expressions or gestures to make, no-one would understand you.

Just as you adapted your communication when we asked you not to move your arms - this is how to help a child with autism understand, and be a part of your conversation in a way that does not put them under pressure or make them anxious.

And as well as adapting your communication style, you can teach children with autism social skills - a service we provide and have plans to host therapy groups for in 2020!

We hope that this information will make it easier for you to communicate with your child - or an older person with Autism - by helping you to understand their experiences …… and if you’re concerned your child may be autistic, feel free to take a look at our blog post on ‘What is Autism?’.