It’s Time To Smash The Myth that Autistic People Are Poor Communicators

We’ve worked hard to compensate for deficits in neurotypical communication

Jae L
5 min readApr 16


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

An unfathomable chunk of the world’s resources has been dedicated to teaching autistic people how to communicate in socially appropriate ways.

We owe this deficit-based view of autistic people to the DSM-5 which stipulates a deficit in social communication as one of the criteria for an autism diagnosis.

The idea that autistic people are defective human beings reverberates through all through the information attempting to promote ‘awareness’ of autism. The message is you might need to give them a bit of help or at least a wide berth because they can’t communicate as well as the rest of us.

Children are taught ‘social skills’ in the hope that enough neurotypical behaviour will stick to them that they aren’t identifiably autistic by the time adulthood hits.

Then when it does, there’s well-meaning but cringeworthy initiatives like the Love On The Spectrum series that coached autistic young people on how to date like neurotypicals.

It’s assumed that becoming a better communicator means overcoming neurodivergent tendencies to adopt the ways of neurotypical communication.

The underlying premise is that there is a ‘right’ way to communicate. It just happens to be a neurotypical way of communicating because it reflects the preferences of the majority of people.

It’s a massive leap to believe that when an interaction between an autistic and non-autistic person goes off course it’s because the autistic person has inferior communication skills.

I internalised a lot of negative self-beliefs growing up but being a bad communicator wasn’t among them.

I didn’t know I was autistic but I was acutely aware that I was different and prone to being misunderstood and misunderstanding others. It meant that I worked damn hard at communication.

I put a lot of time and energy into how I express myself as well as observing and analysing others. I became very good at reading people and the dynamics between them.



Jae L

Queer, neurodivergent and in the business of defying expectations. Doing my best to answer the questions I keep asking myself.