I have been interested in writing since I was very young, probably about age five or six. From a young age, writing was not just a creative outlet, but a coping skill for me. I wasn’t only writing short stories or funny poems about a pair of bunny slippers or a flying dog, although it started that way. As I grew older, writing became a way for me to express my emotions, particularly when working through a difficult experience much more effectively and clearly than through verbal speech.
Some people say I am better writer than I am a conversationalist. This may have to do with a diagnosis of autism. The medical definition of autism has broadened in recent years to include children and adults who show no evidence of expressive language delays or intellectual disability but do demonstrate the delays in social and emotional skills commonly seen in individuals with more significant autism.
Although I have been capable of talking to people all my life, I never really understood, let alone began to master the mechanics behind a two-way conversation until my mid-twenties through individual and group social skills therapy sessions designed for young adults with autism. Part of these sessions also dealt with understanding emotions, including skills such as: emotional recognition, regulation, and the development of effective emotional coping skills. During my childhood and teen years, while I could engage in conversation with my peers, I felt as if I was almost doing so at the periphery only asking yes or no questions or giving simple, one-to-two-word responses. Processing emotions through conversation was also difficult and was often dealt with through crying and high anxiety.
Conversation has become easier now that I’m older. The social skills sessions were very helpful. Writing has become not just a coping skill, but a source of income for me. I think one of my favorite things about writing is on paper, you don’t have to process the speech of a typical conversation plus make eye contact with the individual, which can be a lot for individuals with autism from a sensory processing standpoint. Additionally, what you tell a piece of paper it will never judge you for, kind of like a dog, one of my other favorite things. I encourage your child or loved one with autism to find a few coping skills they enjoy using in stressful or difficult situations as well. Don’t be afraid to explore different outlets until you find a few you really enjoy that are effective.
Here are Some Others I Like:
• Listening to Music
• Walks with/ Play with Thomas
Nassim, A. (2022). “You Write Better Than You Talk": What Does Autism Have to Do with Conversation and Emotional Expression? https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca/articles/you-write-better-than-you-talk.html