‘I was brought up in an NT-speaking household’: autistic perspectives on autistic communication


Deficit/medical models of autism suggest that problems with autistic-neurotypical communication arise in the autistic person themselves. The double empathy problem, however, suggests that problems arise at the interface of autistic-neurotypical interaction, due to mutual difficulties in understanding. Whilst many autistic people have expressed opinions about these two models, there has been little formal research on the degree to which autistic people’s lived experience of social communication fits with either of these two narratives. This talk will present findings from an online asynchronous focus group, in which autistic people discussed their experiences communicating and socialising with neurotypical, autistic, and non-autistic neurodivergent people. The themes explored will suggest that autistic people experience external barriers to easy and enjoyable social communication, primarily as a result of the double empathy problem. There are, additionally, internal barriers to communication experienced by autistic people – however, these do not necessarily align with those proposed by the medical/deficit model. Finally, investigating autistic social communication by considering autistic ‘principles’ of communication (versus ‘features’ of communication) may be a better way of understanding the autistic social communicative style, and provide opportunities for bridging the double empathy gap. (Invited speaker.)

Mar 1, 2022 9:00 AM
Holly E. A. Sutherland
Holly E. A. Sutherland
Doctoral Candidate