we were at a social gathering with a sizable crowd. Afterwards my partner asked
me if she maintained eye contact well during her conversations. She said it still
didn’t feel very natural to her, so I gave her this piece of advice.
When talking to someone (especially in a louder environment, or when you’re with multiple people) and you have trouble maintaining eye contact, you can turn your head so that one ear is facing the speaker. Tell the speaker that this helps you hear them more clearly, or that you are hard of hearing in one ear. These are completely acceptable reasons not to have eye contact; after all, hearing what the speaker says is more important to a conversation than having eye contact.
My partner often asks me if something she experiences daily is normal or if it’s due to her autism.
In this case, she asked me if I can hear my eyelids every time I blink.
Personally, I can only hear them when I’m very sleepy, my surroundings are dead silent, and only when I intensely focus on the sound.
My best guess is that it has something to do with normal people being able to filter out sounds better than people with autism. I’m also guessing that when normal people get tired, this filtering weakens to the point where they hear and feel more than they normally do.
Yesterday, my partner asked me if replying “Why?” to a (simple) request or statement is considered aggressive to normal people.
Simply put: a “why” is often a request for justification, not an explanation.
anything, not only are the words important; inflection is key. A downward or
flat inflection indicates a period at the end, while an upward inflection
indicates a question. Short or single word responses can easily come off as
overly defensive or aggressive if followed by a downward or flat inflection.
– “My hobby is collecting bugs.”
delivered with a downward or flat inflection, the why sounds judgmental to
normal people and implies disapproval. Now they need to justify what they just
If it were delivered with an upward inflection, the why could sound inviting
and imply interest.
– “Can you clean the table?”
In this case,
it’s a simple request or question. Normal people do not expect a question in response
to a request/question. This automatically implies hesitation or refusal.
This is even furthered if delivered with a downward or flat inflection. In that
case, it comes off as arrogant, aggressive or even hostile.
Even an upward inflection will seem strange to a normal person, as it is still
an unexpected response. This will most likely leave them confused or baffled by
As the goal is not for them to justify themselves, but more information, I advised her to formulate her question in a way that stresses her request for more information, and which would be less impacted by the wrong inflection.
A few examples:
“Can you (please) explain why?” is enough to offset the implied aggressiveness, but may still imply hesitation. The optional please is to further offset the possibly perceived aggressiveness.
“Can you (please) explain your reasoning?” should leave no room for misinterpretation. You are now asking for their though process, instead of a justification.