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.


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