You Say It Best When You Say Nothing At All…

You have probably dealt with a stubborn or aggressive friend, co-worker or family member.  A person that, in the midst of a fight or heated debate, always has to have the last word.  The person that it is best to step down or walk away from:  Words will get you nowhere, SILENCE will.

Watch an individual with strong parenting skills.  They are not screaming and yelling at their child in the grocery store.  Instead, there is usually a moment of intense silence combined with “a look” (and often a few calm words) resulting in a now obedient child (usually).  The only thing you will get by joining your child in their screaming fest is many entertained onlookers.

Girls love to talk!  We are known for it.  We want to talk through and analyze every little thing (yes, i’m generalizing), but it is a huge difference between most females and males that often leads to further misunderstanding and arguments because “he doesn’t listen” or  “just doesn’t seem to care.”  Where do those endless conversations round and round in circles get you?  How about a quick, to the point conversation?

Talking too much is probably the number one mistake people make when working with individuals with Autism.  Too many words will result in an over-stimulated individual (if that wasn’t already the problem) paired with a very frustrated caregiver.  “Why aren’t they listening or responding to me!??”  Stop talking and see what happens.

A few comparisons (and a different perspective) that may help with those special people and special situations:  Examples when less words may equate to a better response:

An aggressive friend or co-worker = a child with autism who is over-stimulated

Your words will often only escalate their behaviors.  If they feel threatened by others or their surroundings (often the unknown), their negatives behaviors will increase.

A screaming child in the grocery store = a screaming child w/ autism in a grocery store

There are many similarities in parenting a child with Autism and a “typical” child (when it comes to breakdowns and tantrums).  You may have to use a little more force for a child with Autism (if they are a runner, etc) but in general, do not mimic their behaviors:  do not scream if they are screaming.  Restrain if you have to from dangerous situations but refrain from using too many words to re-direct.

The attention span of a guy dealing with a girl who wants to talk = the attention span of individual with Autism (yes, I just compared your boyfriend or spouse to an individual with Autism:)

You have 30 seconds to give your pitch.  Whether you are instructing, disciplining or just trying to carry on a conversation or activity, on average you have 30 seconds to a minute before all they hear is “blah, blah, blah.”  When working with individuals with Autism, be concise and move on or don’t be surprised when they have moved on to something else (usually a negative behavior).

In summary, it is important to know when to confront a situation with a conversation and when silence is your best option or tool.  Often times, you say it best when you say nothing at all, and it is extremely important when working with individuals with Autism to limit words spoken.

Buddies In ACTION is about creating AWARENESS.  Are you AWARE of the importance of silence in working with individuals with Autism?


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