Communication, it’s important. It refers in the end to the transfer of information. The information can be verbal, oral, visual, digital, graphical, lexical, emotional and I am sure many other words could be used to communicate it.

mobile-605422_1280There are preferred and non preferred methods of communication. There are preferred and non preferred modes of performing that communication. My question though, is who gets to decide and make the rules about what those preferences are. Who are the gatekeepers of the preferences. It seems that the gatekeepers are the ones with the most flexible options, the most power to choose, the most to gain and the least to lose.

I have been on many occasioned described as, even by those closest to me, having a communication deficit. But, I ask is it a difference or is it a deficit? How is this determined? How is it assessed, what is the criteria of determining such a thing. I would assert that it is not a deficit but a difference.

Sure at times it would be easy to describe and assess it as being in deficit, but I would contend that the times that this is true is in fact times when I am required to communicate using others preferred modes and methods of communication rather than my own preferred methods.

So yes in that regard I do indeed present in deficit in that communication interaction, but does that in fact mean that I have a communication deficit.

If I run a 100 metre race again Hussein Bolt I will be in deficit. Do I have a running deficit. No I do not, in fact the many medals for completed running events from 5km to 100 km’s attest that I am far from being in deficit in that regard. Yet in comparison to The fastest man in the world in his preferred event I am in fact in deficit.

Perhaps I am playing with words. Fiddling as it were the communication debate…

And perhaps not, perhaps I am in fact making a very valid and very important point.

As some readers and followers would know, I am currently attending a conference with other autistic adults, it is called a research academy. I am privileged to be sitting with some inspiring and wonderful people and to sit under the wisdom of inspiring and wonderful people.

balloon-875184_1280Today as part of the conference I was treated to something quite wonderful. To see a fellow autistic. A man who has accomplished much in autism advocacy, for both himself and his fellow autistics.

This man is one who would often be pejoratively described in the wider autism community as severely autistic and lacking or having no communication. Yet this is so far from the truth it is hard to fathom who could ever say such a thing.

This man is unable to speak with his mouthparts, yet, has an extremely powerful and important voice. He speaks with passion and poise using alternative communication methods. This wonderful man today had autists and neurotypical people present sitting in awe and some of us in tears. It was a potent reminder that just because someone can not speak with their mouth it does not mean they have nothing to say and are without a voice.

In fact, people are only without a voice in reality when it is taken from them. When they are told that they are without communication, that they cannot communicate, when they have their alternative methods and modes removed from them or at times discouraged and forbidden from use from those closest to them; a crime in my view.

Does this man have a communication deficit. By no means, never. No he has a communication difference. Yes if verbal mouth talking is always the preferred and valued mode and method then he will indeed be at a disadvantage but no he is not at a deficit.

It is not a communication deficit it is a communication difference.

Personally I do not have the issue of being unable to speak with my mouth parts, yet this does not mean that it is my preferred method of communication. In fact at times in highly stressful situations it is in fact my least preferred and least functional mode or method of communicating. Type or text is far more functional and effective.

In fact in these times I do in fact experience difficulty, I find myself speaking different words to the ones I thought, or saw on my mind, I find myself blabbing on and on in mobile-605422_1280verbosity that clouds and confuses what in fact I want to say, or, less often, quite rarely in fact, I effectively lose the ability to make my words work at all, in those situations I am able to see those words on the screen of my mind but not able to get those words to come out of my mouth.

Yet with the freedom of communication via other media, modes and methods I am able to communicate what is on the screen of my mind.

So the question then is left hanging. Is it deficit or difference. I know for me it is certainly just a difference.

What about you? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment and share.

I leave you with the thought.

Just because I can’t talk it does not mean I have nothing to say.