HOW TO PROPERLY ARGUE WITH AUTISTIC PERSONS
Many autistic individuals have grown up to be well-equipped for a normal life, managing to overcome the challenges that the neurological disorder is accompanied with. The most notable improvements can be seen in the area of daily needs management, repetitive behaviour control, speech, and social skills. However, such progress in an autistic person’s condition does not happen overnight. While there are cases when effective parenting is enough to greatly enhance an autistic person’s development, a lot of positive changes are being credited to early intervention therapies and treatments.
However, there is no such thing as an absolute cure for autism, a conclusion that is backed by dozens of medical research. There are certain symptoms and issues that autistic children may carry with them as they grow and reach adulthood. As alarming as it is, normal individuals are encouraged to be more understanding and welcoming to them because they need every bit of support and care to feel like they belong in the community they are in. There are specific instances, however, when these issues complicate the situation and become the reason for disagreement and arguments between an autistic person and the people around them.
You could say that it can’t be helped if verbal disputes arise between yourself and an autistic individual. Because the most common problems that persist until adulthood are social issues and speech challenges, it is not unnatural for autistic persons to misinterpret what other people said, or express their own feelings or needs in the wrong way. When miscommunication is present, autistic people will try to reinforce their point by using their strengths, most likely logic and intellectual prowess which would even worsen the situation. Autistic people are not the type to give up easily on arguments, as long as they feel like they can win it and eventually get what they want or need. Having an argument with an autistic person can be daunting and frustrating for normal people, especially when they don’t know the best approach in this type of situation. To be able to successfully prove your point in an argument with an autistic individual and manage to calm them down, remember these following pointers the next time you get yourself in another verbal dispute.
Don’t Let them Argue with their Strengths
As much as possible, never let the autistic person turn the tide of the argument to their favour by making them maximize their strength. They can easily use their logical abilities, high intellect and almost infinite willpower to their advantage. Because they can’t judge very well the atmosphere of the situation and the emotions of others, they can waste the whole day pushing their point of the argument without knowing that you’re already offended and whatnot. If you want to win in such argument, make sure to stay away from this aspect and let yourself dictate where the argument is going.
Target their Weakness and Build your Ground on It
Playing around the weakness of autistic people is also one way to make your point be heard in an argument. Knowing that logical reasoning wouldn’t appeal that much to them, you can try poking in the grey area that would make them feel unsure and less convincing. For instance, instead of using deductive reasoning in structuring your statements, you can raise your emotional concern or physical needs. So next time you want your child to sleep early and they start arguing with you, instead of reasoning out “you have to go to school tomorrow”, tell them “because I’m sleepy too”, or “I’ll be sad if you won’t”. In that manner, your child cannot simply negate your request with “I’m not sleepy” or other similar reasons, because they’ll find it hard to tell whether you’re really sleepy or sad or just tricking them.
Provide Tone and Depth in Your Emotional Reasoning but Never Blame
It is also important for autistic individuals to feel the emotion of others as they engage in an argument because it helps them develop their sense of empathy. So whenever you say you’re sad, mad, frustrated, or disappointed, make sure that you accompany it with the correct tone of voice to further reinforce your point and make them realize that the argument is not going in the way they want it to be. However, never make it a point to blame the autistic person of your current emotional crisis because it will only cause more distress in your argument. Such situation can only trigger their defense mechanisms such as crying, tantrums, and silly behaviors.
Avoid Arguing Over Obvious Miscommunications
There are cases when arguments arise because of mere miscommunication between you and an autistic person. Such situations happen when your expectations aren’t met by the autistic person due to the lack of proper cues or specific details. For instance, when you ask your autistic officemate to make a photocopy of a report that you gave them, they may only photocopy the single page that you showed instead of the entire number of pages. In order to avoid getting into an argument because of similar other reasons, it is best that you’d be very specific with the instructions that you give, or straightforward with your body language and other cues. But when you’re already in the middle of this type of argument, it is better not to talk back and worsen the situation. You must understand that such problems arise not because the autistic person neglected something or didn’t really pay attention to what you said, but because their sense of judgment is weaker compared to others.
Use the Concept of Natural Consequence in Arguing
Although punishment is necessary for certain types of argument to help autistic persons realize the gravity of their unreasonableness and its impact on other people or situation, it is also very important that you make them learn it through natural consequences instead of giving more personal reasons to justify such punishment. So instead of saying “you can’t play board games because you’ve been bad”, tell them that you don’t have the time to stay up late because you had to do the chore that you designated to them, and that made you feel more tired.