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COGNITIVE DIFFICULTIES WITH COMMUNICATION

COGNITIVE DIFFICULTIES WITH COMMUNICATION

April 22, 2019

All forms of communication are a vital part of living in our world. The reason being that without it, we would have no understanding whatsoever about the goings on outside of our own life experiences. Whenever we think of the term “communication” the first things that usually come to mind are speaking, reading and writing. But there are many other ways in which we all communicate in our everyday lives as well.

In truth every one of us have our own way of communicating which we feel most comfortable with. Yet the kinds of communication that our current world primarily revolves itself around are speaking, writing (which includes writing digitally), reading, listening and also by interpreting a person’s feelings from analysing their body language and facial expressions. This standard form of communication is so well placed that many take it for granted as being a simple procedure which everyone is expected to both understand and do.

However not every person can communicate by those means for various reasons. Speaking may be difficult for a person if they have difficulties with verbally saying words, or even from being unable to hear how they’re pronounced. Reading and writing can be difficult for some of us, including for people like my father who has dyslexia. Also, following along in conversations and understanding what a person is talking about is a challenge when we have a processing disorder, or if we have difficulties with either our auditory processing or hearing itself.

In my own case I have autism, a processing disorder and difficulties with my auditory processing. This gives me many challenges with what’s typically expected in conversations. My processing disorder makes it difficult for me to keep up with conversations at an average speed, and whenever I’m attempting to go as fast as I possibly can (which is still slower than average) I get a lot of anxiety, which often leads to having a meltdown.

Due to my autism I can only understand conversations which are “straight to the point”, literal and about a topic that I’m familiar with. The latter of the three things I mentioned may seem typical to every person. But when a person has autism (the level to which a person is on the spectrum must be taken into account too) we primarily feel comfortable thinking and talking about are our own interests and obsessions. This doesn’t at all mean that I’m not interested in other people’s lives or ideas. It’s merely because I’m unable to cope well if I’m not discussing something that is familiar and therefore comfortable for me. In other words talking outside of my interest area makes me feel very much like I’m lost in unfamiliar territory.

Something else which I find extremely difficult is reading facial expressions, tones of voice, body language, and distinguishing a person taking a short breath from an end of a conversation. Many a time I’ve come across as pushy and even dominating by starting a new conversation of my own (about a topic I myself am familiar with) whenever I have mistaken a short pause from a conclusion. It’s also very difficult for me to ask for clarification as to whether someone has finished speaking, as it would sound so rude in any possible way of asking that.

Communication is a very complex part of our lives, and unfortunately any difficulties a person may have with communication will inevitably cause a few issues here and there. Yet there are two ways in which society can make those issues easier to solve (and if not manage). Firstly it’s important to take communication skills much more seriously in education, and to teach us all more thoroughly about things such as facial expressions, body language, non-verbal communication and tones of voice (which I myself have difficulties with). It’s also equally important to teach certain communication skills to people with other forms of difficulties.

Yet perhaps most important of all it’s absolutely necessary for every person to fully acknowledge that communication is a very complex matter; and that we must never take it for granted as something that is a normal and easy part of life.



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