It probably won’t surprise you to know that the communication difficulties I have due to my Asperger’s also affected my communication at university, both during seminars and in my written work.
|Area of Asperger’s Syndrome||Example||Issues I have experienced in Higher Education||Solutions that would have helped me|
|Communication||Essay writing||Can’t put myself in the place of the reader, am blind to what I’ve left out. Can’t follow implied/implicit instructions or read between the lines for what is wanted.||Give clear, concise, explicit instructions/titles for assignments; Comment on a essay draft re big gaps in story, recommend book on writing essays.|
|Questions||“You haven’t really answered my question” – If you don’t understand the point I am making, or don’t tell me how I have missed your ‘real’ question, I have no idea what else I need to say.||Ask specific questions.|
|Literal interpretation||“Give a few examples…” – Unclear how many examples you want; “Compare and contrast X and Y” – You may get exactly that, minus the critical evaluation and conclusion that you were expecting.||Write essay questions clearly, explicitly – “Give 2-3 examples…” “Compare and contrast X and Y, providing critical evaluation and conclusion”, provide a copy of the university marking criteria.|
|Instructions meant as a joke||Metaphor, irony, sarcasm – “By all means write the essay about Michael Jackson if you like…”||My supervisor tends to add “joke” at the end, but may be best to avoid misdirection altogether.|
|Translation||AS and NT language is different. I have to take what I want to say, turn it into a NT-acceptable way of saying it, and then take your reply and translate it into what you actually meant. This can take time and is exhausting.||Say what you mean and mean what you say.|
|Chatting||I can assimilate information very quickly, in the right circumstances (quiet), and get bored/frustrated with all the long-winded getting to the point that can happen – the story, the journey, the build up, the chit chat, the contradictions. I would rather read the minutes of a meeting, or the abstract of a paper, or have someone tell me the upshot/outcome/impact on me than go to the meeting to see it unfold, read the whole paper, hear the whole story.||Be direct and concise wherever possible.|
|Enquiries||I prefer to make all my enquiries and receive all my replies by email. My heart sinks if I get a reply that says, “It would be easier to discuss this in person…” because it is not for me. With words I have only the words to interpret.||Be aware that email might be the easiest way for the student and that face-to-face you may not resolve anything.|
© Catastraspie, 2012.