I had this really strange experience in the radio yesterday. I managed to do my recording in a presence of another person to give me the feeling that someone is actually listening, which did help a lot, and after that I was asked if I want to take part in live program next week and I said yes. I will be a guest for two other ladies so the pressure won’t be that bad because, if I have nothing to say they will fill in the silence.
However, the idea that I will be on a live program reminded me of how a radio presenter is meant to talk to people, that means ask the right questions at the right time (I believe I can do that) and allow the natural flow of the conversation (I’m not good at that, especially with strangers).
After that I had a conversation with the manager and another volunteer – we were asked to prepare some ideas for a program about people going into debt to cover costs of living, and after discussing what we knew already we moved on to general chat. At some point I stated that my life was so boring a year ago, and the other volunteer interrupted me saying his life is boring since 2014.
As I stated here before I used to have terrible difficulties with people interrupting me, I now think this was because I was just so focused on delivering the information that I had in my head, I really thought it’s important for people to hear it. But somehow at that time I managed to abandon the information that I wanted to deliver and focus on what he had to say and I asked him what happened in 2014.
I wonder if this is something that a neurotypical person would say? It may seem slightly nosy as, if he wanted to say what happened he would have said ‘my life is boring since I did X in 2014’, but then not asking could look like if I’m not interested, and especially if I am playing a radio presenter it was important to ask this question I think.
He didn’t give me the answer, instead he was just talking around the subject repeating things like ‘possibly it wasn’t 2014, but maybe already 2012’, but he didn’t want to say what happened and also didn’t change the subject himself. It become clear to me that he doesn’t want to talk about it so I said ‘I’m really glad you’re here then and can work on making your life more interesting again’.
It made perfect sense to me to say that and I did it without any delay. I remembered I had to see things from his perspective so that meant 1. Be kind 2. offer him a chance to change the subject and the above sentence fit both boxes.
Although I am aware I probably heard other people saying something like that in similar situation, I really don’t think that was echolalia because echolalia is when we repeat words of phrases without understanding if they are good fit in the conversation, while I really understood why I used it.
What really helped there was that I had high motivation as Shirley, the radio manager was there, so I wanted to demonstrate that I can talk to people in a way that is expected from radio presenter, and also I knew how good radio presenters talk, so I was trying to fit what I say into this pattern.
Also using echolalia in conversation is form of masking and it is always making me really stressed and exhausted. I know now however that what is wrong with masking is not the fact we’re trying, is the fact that our efforts don’t make any sense to us, while the above sentence made perfect sense to me.
After a few hours, unfortunately, when I was at home already, I got a bit stressed as I didn’t know whether I will be able to find the right thing to say in other situations, but then I guess I shouldn’t worry too much about it. I am autistic at the end so if I don’t manage, people should understand, and by not saying the right thing all the time I am helping to raise awareness.