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ASERT has compiled resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

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Practicing Communication

By Out-of-Sync Woman

I have gotten better at organizing my thoughts so I can communicate more clearly. However, getting better at the process doesn’t mean it’s easy or fun. So why do I keep trying to get better at expressing my thoughts? I believe that the only way to improve is to learn new tricks and to practice a lot. I know that will probably take me longer and that it will be harder for me to learn or improve a skill. I also believe being able to express myself more clearly and successfully is an important part of being an effective communicator.

This process of learning and growing didn’t happen all at once; it took many years to get to this point. I remember needing a lot of help throughout my school experience,  including having notetakers for class and taking some tests with teachers verbally. My Mom also gave me a lot of help writing my papers for school. I was incredibly lucky to have the opportunities and support to make it through school. These days I need less help because I have access to helpful technology like my cellphone and the many new applications on the cellphone. I’m also really lucky to have a friend edit my writing. Plus I’m no longer in school so that means I’m less likely to be put in a position of weakness and frustration.

I personally believe that learning to express yourself effectively increases the amount of diversity in the public dialogue. I believe that learning how to speak your mind clearly can help make your points and improve your self-advocacy. I also believe that it is important to learn how to truly listen with an open mind and heart. Listening is hard and can be frustrating but I think it’s vital. This is something I want to learn to do and I’m still practicing today. I think that learning how to listen makes my life better and richer. I think active listening is a courtesy and a necessity in today’s increasingly complex world.

Yes, it’s harder to listen to somebody who doesn’t agree with you and in fact has very different beliefs. It feels like an attack on your own beliefs. I often want to say “I don’t believe you” and “you’re wrong.” It takes courage for me to say “I don’t know” or ”you might be right.” It is hard for me to communicate in those moments as I don’t know what to say. I’m learning how to communicate and listen in those difficult moments. To be strong enough to hold my ground and at the same time allow the other person to hold theirs. I’m not perfect and never will be but I’m trying my best and I have to be okay with that. I believe it’s important to try even if you don’t succeed. I believe the attempt is important.