Communication: one cannot not communicate

Posted by: alisrowe, August 7, 2016

‘Tina (16, ASD) is walking down the street on her way to school. Unexpectedly, she sees a boy and girl from her class. Tina nervously looks around, trying to remain unseen, but it seems both her classmates have noticed her and are walking towards her.

The girl greets Tina but Tina stands there nervously, not knowing what to say.

“You know Tina, you could at least say something. I mean, why don’t you just communicate with anyone?”‘

But was Tina really not communicating?

Watzlawick. Watzlawho?

Watzlawick was, amongst other things, a communications theorist who used 5 axioms to explain communication theory with. In this blog, I will touch upon his first axioms and relate it to people with autism.

It is impossible not to communicate

In the example of Tina, her friends accused her of not communicating with others. But was this really the case? Very often we see communication as an audible/verbal thing. Words are used to speak and form a language. With language we can convey a message to others, and this is seen as communication. We call this verbal communication.

However, Tina is always communicating through her body language. Body language can be facial expressions, shuffling about, body posture, using hands, looking down… etc. This is called non verbal communication and it can be just as important.

Just because somebody doesn’t speak, doesn’t mean they’re not communicating.

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