Bridging the communication gap between high functioning autistics and neurotypicals.

Emotion as a Language

I saw my sister recently.  I had not been with her for a long time.  The first thing that struck me was her voice.  I heard myself talking.  The next thing I noticed, she didn’t say many words.  I got a lot of emotional messages though.  If I didn’t misinterpret them, they ranged from “I’m so happy to see you” to “Why did we wait so long” to “I missed you so much” and “I love you”.  I hadn’t experienced that language on that level for quite a long time.

This lead me to the contrast of my communication with Mark.  I use english for everything. I mean absolutely everything.  I can’t use emotion at all.  He has NO receptors for emotion.  NONE.  ZILCH.  ZERO.  NADA. Now I am paying attention to how much emotion I use. It still sneaks up on me though.  The emotional language is so natural to me that I don’t even know I’m using.

Here’s an example. Mark was massaging my foot.  It became too painful so I told him to quit.  The 3rd time I said “STOP!”.  Then I said, “I told you 3 times to stop!”  He said, “You only said ‘stop it’ once.”  Whoa.  He was right.  In my mind I had said it 3 times and was frustrated that he hadn’t stopped.  Apparently I had sent two very strong emotional messages to stop and the third time I resorted to english. All three times felt like legitimate ways to communicate.

We NTs with HFAs in our lives are most likely NOT communicating well.  First we have to understand that emotion is a language and we are using it naturally everyday.  Next we have to understand that HFAs do NOT have receptors to understand this language.  Whether you are disciplining your young HFA or talking to an older HFA employee.  You MUST be able to express every single emotion you have into english.  That goes for praising them too.  Every emotion you have has to have words to go with it.  How often has Mark asked me for praise or approval while I had been giving it emotionally.  Learn your emotions and then learn to put words to them.

I’m still learning.


Comments on: "Emotion as a Language" (1)

  1. Hello you two, I am really psyched that I found your blog, because the idea of facilitating NT/HFA understanding has occurred to me, too. Check out the social skills section of my blog for related ideas if you’re interesting in checking out a self-diagnosed aspie’s perspective on the potential for acquiring emotional literacy from theory of mind to non-verbal communication skills, in adulthood.

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