I had a chat over email today with dr Kate Cooper, autism researcher from University of Bath. The chat was about how to communicate with talkative people at work.
As I probably mentioned, in my line of work chatting is very common. Sometimes people get so absorbed in it that they look like they’re ignoring the clients (who are often nonverbal or only able to speak a few words). Yet, chatty people are seen as caring. And I’m not saying they’re not, only that it’s so easy for them to put their social needs above everything else and I think they need to be given special training in order to stop doing that.
To be honest being in this situation, where chat is so important, only happened once to me since I work for the agency. That was last week – I described the situation on the blog, it was that lady who then ignored me when I attempted to say goodbye and that then caused me a serious meltdown. And that was exactly what then made me think that I need to adjust my coping skills because I cannot be putting myself through all that unnecessary pressure of being social for several hours at a time if that doesn’t get appreciated on the most basic level.
I mean, I don’t know, maybe that lady didn’t see ignoring me at the end of the shift as rude, as we had the entire 7h to talk, but I’d rather prefer if she ignored me for 7h and then acknowledged me as I was leaving. It’s really annoying when you have to play according to neurotypical rules the entire day and never get what is important to you, you know?
So I contacted somebody from autism research team at University of Bath about it on Monday and that person put me in touch with dr Kate Cooper.
After a short email exchange Kate suggested that I should consider explaining to my colleagues towards the beginning of the shift that I find long conversations difficult. And I must say, as much as it seems to make sense, the idea makes me rather uncomfortable. I don’t actually understand why? I wish someone could explain that to me, because I try to look at myself critically and I really don’t know.
Is it possible that I feel this way because I am aware that neurotypicals don’t communicate in a direct way and I’m too focused on copying them? Even if my way of copying is different than what they would do? I’m not sure, I guess that is one of the possibilities.
Or maybe I’m upset because I am aware that other people don’t need to make themselves vulnerable to get their needs met? Or maybe because, even though I’m autistic, I still see this as slightly abrupt and rude? Or possibly just because I know that I’d find it difficult to decide when it’s the right moment to say that?
So basically, I still don’t know what I should do in similar situations. It somehow makes me feel like giving up: it’s been six and half years since I realised I’m autistic and I’m not anywhere close to end my communication difficulties. It is so upsetting when I think that other people get all of that instinctively.
If you have any suggestions please let me know. Thanks.