I often think non-verbal communication is something that often gets lost amongst all the other different aspects of Dyspraxia.
Non-verbal communication is something I feel is absolutely imperative for people to be taught about and to talk about the challenges within the world of neurodevelopmental conditions and how this can impact them.
So today I’m going to discuss the challenges within non-verbal communication and why it can make verbal communication more challenging for me and others with Dyspraxia and/ or ASD/ Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Being involved in discussion is never an easy thing for a person with Dyspraxia. For me, talking amongst a group of I’d say more than 3 is a non starter. It becomes difficult to interject with the different conversations very quickly.
But there’s something more. You wouldn’t consider it “normal” to say at the end of your passage of speech “I’ve finished speaking” or like someone with a walkie-talkie would say “Over” when they finish their message. This does admittedly create a barrier for me. Because I feel like in some ways there ends up being a law on when I can and can’t speak. I have been in quite a few situations at the opposite ends of the scale where I’ve accidentally interrupted someone when they are speaking or I’ve been interrupted when I’m speaking.
What I would say, is what I have learnt by watching a DVD about non-verbal communication, is that it would be very helpful if during conversation, when people are finished speaking they could make some sort of gesture to signal it’s someone else’s turn to speak.
Understanding emotions, tone of voice and body language
My understanding of these things, like my other traits of Dyspraxia and ASD come and go like the weather changes.
Sometimes I could quite quickly identify someone looks like they are upset and naturally I would want to do something to help.
At times, I’ve felt helpless to understand what another person may be feeling inside and though I’ll be curious, I refrain from discussing it because somebody else will probably have a better understanding than me.
While Dyspraxia makes me in some ways an empathetic person, the ASD elements make me a more judgemental person, so I end up making a lot of quick decisions. This in turn would make me sometimes judge whether I like or respect a person based on their tone of voice or their whole kind of demeanor and body language.
Admittedly, body language is something I’d want to understand more about, because I think that’s the area of non-verbal communication I’d have the least amount of knowledge about.
Voice tone is something that I do feel is not considered enough when it comes to 2 people being able to keep a connection going. 2 people could end up being engrossed in discussion but 1 thing could suddenly strike a nerve in the other person (a situation I can relate to a lot) and then the connection immediately becomes less meaningful and difficult to rebuild.
Spacial awareness is something that is a fairly common thing discussed amongst the community of people with Dyspraxia. It is quite a common thing for people with the condition to find difficult- though again another thing that links to the autism side as well.
I don’t feel like it is one of my main struggles… Though I have met a few people who I would understand to know it as a difficulty of theirs. From what I picked up from the DVD I have watched, there are different zones in which people interact. Either one of the “Casual Personal Zone” or the “Social Consultative Zone” would be the zone in which it would be deemed as the stage for common human interaction.
However, some people I have knowledge of, have ended up in what is called the “Intimate Zone” a little too often, as perhaps they don’t quite understand what is socially acceptable. Of course, that depends on the person or people in question. If said person or people are ok with people being in close proximity to them… Fair dues! But people do have boundaries.
What’s for sure, is I do have boundaries. I do have a limit as to how close I want to be to people in a space and how I would interact with them.
My biggest difficulty in regards to understanding space, is actually how loud my voice projects. I naturally have quite a loud voice and even if I was sitting right next to someone, I’d not understand or have any clue as to what the volume of my voice was and if it was appropriate for it to be at my volume.
This can relate right back to the whole group setting and as to why I’m really not too fond of group settings. I probably end up speaking so loudly because I feel like as it’s me, my voice is the most important to be heard and I want to make everything I say clear. I am the sort of person where I say what I mean and I mean what I say, providing I actually know the definition of the words I’m using.
All in all, how we interpret people is always something that interests me, and I do wish that non-verbal communication was something discussed not just in the community of neuro-diverse people, but actually talked about in more institutions because I feel it would be quite valuable in people being able to understand more about each other.