Communication issues


 I’m a 20 year old on the spectrum and have such difficulty with understanding people.

My best friend is also on the spectrum and we spend a lot of time together. Sometimes he calls me when I don’t want to be disturbed which makes me anxious. 

He prefers calling and I prefer texting. I prefer texting because it gives me more time to think and also gives me time to process as processing skills are quite a huge difficulty for me. He prefers calling because he is a very chatty lad and I wonder if it’s motivating for him to keep the conversation going. 

I don’t know how I can express this to him without him thinking I’m ignoring him or him thinking I’m angry with him. I appreciate that he’s checking on me which is so sweet of him when really I want space and time by myself. 

I find it hard to explain my processing and communication difficulties because I find I’m always masking and people don’t believe that’s the way I function.

Some helpful tips on how to communicate my situation to him would be nice. ;) 

  • I have the same problems in social situations - it's almost like they are speaking another language and I need a couple of seconds to translate - which makes conversation a bit stilted. It's even worse if they have a strong accent - double translation time. It makes me look insincere to them because I don't respond like they would expect me to.

    In a technical environment, I am highly interactive because it's all just data - no emotions, no hidden meanings, no lies, just pure, clean data.

    I prefer dealing with NTs in writing - it removes ambiguity and it gives me the time to straighten out my thoughts before hitting 'send'.

  • I'm exactly the same.

    I always prefer dealing with people in writing. It gives me more time to think and gives me time to process. I also need time to translate.

    And I almost do not phones at all. I only speak on the phone with one person know and even then I would prefer to text or e-mail if I could with the person.

  • I'm exactly the same - I hate speaking on the phone! I'd much prefer to text or email. It's just my forte, where I'm far more eloquent and communicative in writing; whereas on the phone I struggle to process (both my own thoughts and what the other person's saying)… and I turn into a stuttering, jabbering idiot. It's gotten the point whereby if the phone rings now, I often don't even hear it.


    If you're both on the spectrum then surely you must both be aware that you'll each have unique behavioural quirks, unique ways of interacting with the world (including the social world) and unique coping strategies? So, I'd be tempted to sit him down over a coffee or something, and just enter into 'contract negotiations' about the friendship. After all, we auties are well-known for loving rules, so just sit down and establish some mutually-agreed-upon rules regarding your friendship and communication.


    For example: you may agree that he only texts you during the daytime, but he can call you once in the evening (or vice-versa, if like me you like your quiet time of an evening)? Or, you may like to set aside a Friday evening to have an in-depth phone conversation? Just remember that he is going to need things from you too. For example: frequent verbal interaction may be important to him, whereby he values the meaning of the friendship more if you have more personal conversations. But equally, you're going to have to explain to him that the frequency of conversations needs to be restricted - not because you don't value his friendship - but simply as a self-coping strategy to manage your own sensory demands. Assure him that you genuinely want to maintain the friendship, which is why you want to clarify some behavioural guidelines, before you reach meltdown and just terminate the friendship out of sheer sensory desperation.


    You're not the first younger Autistic that has recently spoke about their frustration in not having the right language to communicate their experience of the world. There's an excellent book called "A Field Guide to Earthlings: An autistic/Asperger view of neurotypical behavior" which I recommend. It's clearly written in short chapters, is very accessible, and tackles a whole range of issues surrounding autism and the mechanisms which vary to the neurotypical norm. It's the best £10 you'll ever spend! So, it may be worth looking into, just to give yourself that extra vocabulary and enable yourself to communicate your worldview that little bit better?