A lot of people seem to use verbal skills to differentiate between high and low functioning autism. Very few of my friends and family know, or would believe if they knew, that I am autistic, because I can speak quite well. Normally.
I didn’t actually learn to speak until I was 4 or 5 years old. These days that would be a clear indication to parents that there was something going on with their child, but when I was a kid nothing was done about it. Once I was able to speak, I guess the early difficulties were pretty much forgotten. As a child I used big words and parroted things that I heard, which I have now discovered is quite common amongst kids with aspergers.
These days I still have to put a lot of thought into speech, but then I don’t really know how much thought other people put in. Maybe what I do is actually normal? I do know that when I get upset or agitated I can’t speak. The part of my mind that formulates words just seems to shut down.
I’ve been thinking about verbal communication lately. My nephew is learning to speak now, and it’s really hard for me to be with him. When he was younger, I felt like we could communicate well, because I didn’t have to speak to him using words. Now, it’s important to encourage him to use words so I have been trying to speak more with him, and it’s so hard.
Like many things, verbal skills improve with practice. The longer I go without speaking, the harder it gets, but if I have to converse with people regularly it becomes easier. I think my difficulties are somewhat hidden in my profession. I am a software developer, a profession where people expect you to be lousy at verbal communication 🙂 Compared to many people I’ve worked with, I’m actually pretty good. I’ve been on holiday for the last few weeks so I haven’t been speaking much. It’s easy for me to go for long stretches of time without speaking at all. I believe I have gone for months at a time in the past without speaking aloud. I need to make a conscious effort to speak to keep in practice.