Tag Archives: Communication

My Autistic Experience: Repetitive and Steretoyped Speech and Language

I’d almost forget it, but this month, I’d actually intended to share my autistic experience for #Write31Days. I failed at the challenge, but that shouldn’t be an excuse not to share my experiences. Today, I’ll talk about speech and language.

I was originally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome under DSM-IV. Asperger’s is basically autism without an intellectual disability or speech delay. The communication impairments criterion in autistic disorder does not appear in the criteria for Asperger’s. That doesn’t mean Asperger’s people don’t have communication impairments. I could’ve easily met the communication impairment criterion in autistic disorder if I’d been more articulate back when I was diagnosed in 2007. You see, I was asked to name examples of speech and language stereotypies I displayed and could come up with only one, which was dismissed. In truth though, my speech and language can be quite stereotyped.

The most noticeable form of steretoypical language for me is my use of particular words or strings of words in an apparently irrelevant context and/or in a repetitive way. For example, in around 2005, I’d say “Hey folks!” to practically everyone. Later, I also used to say “banana spider” at every opportunity. In time, between my husband and me, it got the meaning to communicate boredom or disinterest. As such, it’s become a kind of script.

My repetitive use of language can be helpful in my interactions with my fellow clients at day activities. My fellow clients are all severely intellectually, often multiply disabled. None of them can speak and many have severely limited comprehension of speech, but they respond with joy to my repetitive use of their names or nicknames in a particular tone of voice.

Speaking of tone of voice, I do not seem to have a monotonous voice, but I do know that my tone of voice can be steretoyped too. For example, I speak to each fellow client at day activities in a different tone when echoing their names.

I rarely if ever experience true echolalalia, in the sense that I’d repeat another person’s entire sentence. I do often find myself repeating one or two words though. I also regularly repeat my own words. Lastly, I do repeat sounds people make.

I have an interesting preference for complicated words over simple ones. Refer back to “banana spider” here. Also, the first word I ever spoke, at ten months of age, wasn’t “Mama” or suchlike, but “aircraft industry”.

Another interesting experience happened at my last psychological evaluation last spring. Not only did I name “Banana spider” as one of the first animals in a naming task, but on the IQ test, one of the questions was who was Mahatma Gandhi. Years back, I’d had the same question on an IQ test and accidentally said that he “fighted” for India’s independence. Now I knew I had to say he “fought”, but again, “fighted” slipped off my tongue. It isn’t that I didn’t know the past tense of “fight” in Dutch, but that the situation elicited this particular brain fart.

I’m sure most people use language in some steretypical ways. After all, the example of steretoypcal language I came up with in 2007, was my frequent use of expletives. That’s not uncommon, which may be why the assessor dismissed it. My use of repetitive language also doesn’t impair me that much and, like I said, it can be an asset. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Spectrum Sunday

Supporting Someone Who Self-Injures

I have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (known in the UK as emotionally unstable personality disorder). BPD is sometimes known in the Netherlands as emotion regulation disorder, because it causes people to be unable to deal with intense and rapidly shifting emotions. BPD sufferers get stressed much more easily than those without mental health problems. They also tend to cope with stress ineffectively. One destructive coping mechanism that is common in BPD is self-harm.

Self-injury is not unique to people with BPD. In fact, starting with DSM-5, non-suicidal self-injury is its own diagnosis in the psychiatrist’s manual. Before then, if a person self-harmed, they were often incorrectly diagnosed with BPD, which has many more symptoms than just self-injury.

Self-injury is also common in people with autism, which is my other diagnosis. It is thought that people with autism, particularly those with a co-occurring intellectual disability, self-harm as a way of self-stimulatory behavior (to regulate sensory input) or as a way to communicate. For example, they might start to self-harm when they are overloaded sensorially or cognitively, or when they are in pain.

People with BPD are thought to self-harem to regulate their emotions. For instance, they may feel intense hopelessness or rage, or they may conversely feel numb and self-harm to have any sensation at all.

Self-harm is commonly thought of as a way of manipulating or attracting attention. This may be true, but isn’t necessairly. Many people feel a lot of shame about their self-harm. I, for one, don’t tend to self-injure to garner attention of others. I self-harm for many reasons, one of them being expressing emoitons to myself.

It is important to realize that people who self-injure, no matter their diagnosis, are in distress, be it physical, sensory, cognitive or emotional. It is important to find out what precedes the self-injury and what follows it. Don’t make judgments about what goes on inside the self-injurer’s mind. For example, I commonly start self-harming when I get frustrated trying to communicate my needs to my staff. It may then be easy to assume I do it “for attention”, because the staff give me more one-on-one attention when I self-injure. However, if I am able to communicate my needs effectively, I don’t self-injure to get attention. Behvior is communication, but bad behavior is not always intended to be malicious.

There are different ways of supporting self-injurers. Prevention is the first step. Some people, particularly those with emotion regulation disorders, may benefit from mindfulness and other skills training in a form such as dialectical behavior therapy. Others may benefit from augmentative or alternative communication methods to signal they’re in pain or overloaded. I need a little of both. I practise emotion regulation skills and mindfulness, but sometimes I also need support in the area of communication. For example, I cannot always communicate when I need a staff member to help me with something, be it emotional support or a practical task. Signaling cards, gestures or other alternative or augmentative communication may help in this situation.

When someone self-harms, it is of course important that their physical wounds be taken care of if they cannot do this themself. I find it helps most when someone doesn’t make a big deal out of my self-injuring when taking care of my wounds. Some professionals advocate limiting contact for a day or more after a person has self-injured, reasoning that in that case they have solved their problem already, albeit in a destructive way. Though I find that a bit of distance is good shortly after I self-harm, it is still important to make sure the person is safe from further harm. I do also find that I want to discuss the situation later when I’m calm, so that I can learn what better strategies will help me in the future.

Everyday Gyaan

First Steps Towards Independence: Blindness Rehabilitation in 2005

This week on the spin cycle, we’re discussing firsts. Last Friday, I visited a woman I first met at the blindness rehabilitation center in 2005. Another guy we both met there too also came over. This was my first time meeting them since I graduated from the rehabilitation center.

The rehabilitation center experience was quite interesting. I had just graduated from high school two months earlier and didn’t want to go straight to university. So in order to have some practice on my first steps towards independence, I became a resident there four to five days a week for four months.

The program was quite intensive. I had orientation and mobility training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, music, textile arts and handycrafts, as well as three different types of communication training and counseling with a psychologist. I also had vision therapy.

During orientation and mobility training, I learned to plan to go someplace and to travel there effectively using my white cane. I learned to be quite a good cane traveler even though I’d always had trouble using the cane correclty, and still do. After about six weeks at the center, I started using public transportation to go there on Monday and to travel back home on Thursday or Friday. I also learned to travel to and from the local supermarket and to use customer service to get my groceries.

Occupational therapy had several components to it. First, there was the teaching of housekeeping and cooking skills. I didn’t yet master these when I graduated from the center, so went on to live at an independence training home afterwards. Another part of occupational therapy was group-based training in compensating for our visual impairment with our other senses. This, for me, was quite easy in the practical sense, but my social skils difficulties emerged there. There was one great workshop on applying make-up without sight. I loved it.

I also had physical therapy because I have poor posture and had developed mild scoliosis as a result. Physical therapy wasn’t all that effective, because I didn’t practise the exercises out of session.

Vision therapy was very interesting. At first, I had a vision therapist who didn’t acknowledge my admittedly tiny fraction of residual vision. When at one of the communication sills training sessions though, another vision therapist joined the trainer and I arranged for sessions with her. My vision was still virtually non-existent, but I learned a lot about what I could and couldn’t do with it. I also had an opportunity to select NoIR sunglasses that would help me cope better with my light sensitivity. This vision therapist was very patient and thorough in answering my questions. Though in the end my emotional adjustment problems surfaced, which of course she wasn’t trained in dealing with, I did feel very much validated.

Music, textile arts and handycrafts were quite useful too. Though I didn’t practise what I learned there for another few years to come, the instructors there taught me that I could indeed do arts and crafts with no vision. Music wasn’t my cup of tea, so I stopped playing the keyboards after graduating from the center.

The communication skills training sessions were great. I took basic communication skills, assertiveness and communication about your visual impairment. I had one trainer for both basic communication skills and assertiveness and another for the communication about your visual impairment training. The first one was great at letting me see that, if I moved past my anxiety, I could be quite sociable. The second trainer was the one who cooperated with the vision therapist.

Counseling was the least useful bit about the rehabilitation program. The psychologist was blind herself and for one thing didn’t grasp my emotional adjustment issues. She focused on the fact that I had to put non-disabled values into perspective and for example learn to ask for help. Though I did accept this eventually, I still couldn’t cope with the many losses of vision loss. I don’t think a four-month-long rehabilitation program is enough for that anyway, as I still don’t fully accept this ten years on. However, the other problem was we just didn’t click in terms of communication styles. I didn’t open up easily and there just wasn’t enough time in the program for me to work on even just those issues that are due to blindness. I understand that, but the psychologist could’ve refrained from rushing me through a dozen issues.

I was a residential client there even though the rehabilitation center was in my home city. In the evenings, the clients spent lots of time amongst ourselves discussing our rehabilitation process. This was very healing to me. It also was a great opportunity to practise social skills.

Even though my rehabilitation was supposed to be my first step towards independence, I was in many ways at my highest point in terms of independence while there. I don’t like to admit this, since I did learn other sklls in the ten years since. Also, the fact that I didn’t become more self-reliant makes it look like I just need a kick in the pants. In fact, however, the program had lots of one-on-one instruction incorporated, which I can’t get now that I’m a mental patient. I still grieve this loss of independence, but this possibly has to do with my adjustment to my psychiatric illness.

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) and Floortime: Two Autism Treatments #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day eighteen in the A to Z Challenge on autism. Today, I will focus on two behavioral interventions for autism: relationship development intervention and Floortime.

Relationship development intervention (RDI) is a behavioral approach to helping autistic children reach the highest possible quality of life. The intervention was developed by Dr. Steven Guttstein. The basic idea behind the intervention is that dynamic intelligence, which is the ability to think flexibly, is required for a good quality of life. Dynamic intelligence includes the ability to appreciate different perspectives, cope with change, and integrate informaiton from multiple sources (eg. sight and sound).

The most important objectives of RDI are:

  • Emotional referencing: being able to learn from the emotions and subjective experiences of others.

  • Social coordination: the ability to observe and control behavior in order to participate in social interaction.

  • Declarative language: using verbal and non-verbal communication to express curiosity, invite interaction and share perceptions and feelings.

  • Flexible thinking: being able to adjust to changing circumstances and adapt one’s plans accordingly.

  • Relational information processign: the ability to put things into context and solve problems that don’t have a clear-cut solution.
  • Foresight and hindsight: being able to use past experiences to anticipate on future possibilities.

Autistic people usually have trouble in these areas, which leads to their autistic core symptoms. Typically deveoping children commonly learn these skills through interaction with their parents.

RDI uses the parent-child relationship to enable the child to master the skills mentioned above. An RDI consultant teaches the parents to modify their interaction and communication style in such a way that the autistic child will be supported to learn the missed skills.

I used to believe that RDI is the same as Floortime, but it turns out it isn’t. Floortime was developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and relies on the idea that, in order to teach a child functional skills, they have to engage with their parents, teachers or therapists. This is precisely where some autistic children have trouble, particularly those who are very withdrawn. In Floortime, the parent carefully intrudes the child’s play, following the child’s lead, and tries to engage the child.

So what is the difference between Floortime and RDI? An important distinction is that, in RDI, the parent takes the lead in engaging the child, whereas a parent who uses Floortime follows the child’s lead. Both approaches require consistency and follow-through, so as a parent, you most likely won’t be able to combine the two.

Communication in Autistic Children #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day three of the A to Z Challenge, in which I focus on autism. Today, I want to focus on one of the core areas of impairment in autism: communication.

Children and adults with autism have problems in non-verbal and/or verbal communication. Some individuals with autism do not speak at all or speech development is delayed. Others on the surface have great speech with an extraordinary vocabulary, but have problems with the social use of language (pragmatics).

Some common problems with communication in autistic individuals include:

  • Rigid and repetitive language. People with autism may say things that have no meaning in the conversation they’re having. They may repeat the same words or phrases over and over again, or they may repeat what another person has said (echolalia). Immediate echolalia occurs when a person repeats what has just been said, for example, answering a question with the same question. Delayed echolalia means that a person repeats what they’ve heard earlier. For example, they may ask “Do you want something to drink?” whenever they want a drink. Some people with autism use what they’ve heard on television in regular conversation.

  • Talking in a high-pitched, sing-song voice or in a monotonous tone of voice.

  • Being able to talk about certain topics only. Some people with autism can hold lengthy monologues on a topic of interest even though they cannot carry on a two-way conversation on the same topic or cannot talk at all about other topics.

  • >Uneven speech and language development. Some children will not speak at all then start speaking in full sentences. Others will develop a large vocabulary about a specific topic of interest, as I said above. Some children can read before the age of five but do not comprehend what they’ve read (a condition known as hyperlexia). Some people with autism cannot speak but can type.

  • Poor non-verbal communication. Many peopole with autism avoid eye contact, though some can learn to stare at another person’s eyes to fake eye contact. People with autism also often won’t use gestures to give meaning to their speech, such as pointing to objects.

In order to help an autistic child reach their potential in communicative abilities, parents and carers will need to pay attention to a child’s strengths and needs. For example, some children will not use any speech but will be able to learn sign language or learn to communicate using a speech app.

When a child repeats other people’s words, usually at first it has no meaning. However, echolalia can be a pathway to communicaiton, because a child will often ultimately start using repeated word in communicative scripts that do have meaning.

There are many stratgies parents can use to enhance an autistic child’s communication development. For example:

  • Take on the role of a helper and teacher. When a child is still particularly non-communicative, it may be tempting to do things for them without asking whether they need help. It is better to ask whether the child needs help and give them an opportunity to try for themselves first.

  • Encourage the child to do things with others. Again, it is tempting to let the child be completely in their own world, because many parents view this as independence. However, autistic children (and all children!) need interaction to improve their communication. Try to join the child in whatever activity they’re involved in. When the child shows anger, this is a sign that they are interacting and it is better than no interaction at all, so persevere.

  • Slow down and give the child a chance to communicate. Many children with autism are slow to process information, so it helps to slow down. It is tempting to rush, because, after all, as a parent you can’t attend to the child 24/7, but slowing down will ultimately encourage the child to communicate.

  • Give the child a reason to communicate. If you give in to a child’s every demand immediately, they will not learn to interact. It is important to create situations in which the child is encouraged to communicate more than just their immediate needs and wants.

As the child matures and develops more communicative skills, it is important to move from the helper/teacher role on to a role of a partner and to even follow the child’s lead. That way, a child will learn increasing reciprocity in communication.

Asking for Help

Asking for help. It’s one of those things many people have difficulty with. I am no exception. There are many reasons for this. Like, I’m somewhat anxious in social situations. In fact, on an online but seemingly pretty formal questionnaire (the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale), I score as having very severe social anxiety. It surprised me a little, given that I have only mild difficulty stirring up a conversation with basically anyone. Then again, most of the situations asked about were situations in which you had to do more than stir up smalltalk, such as asking for help.

I have always had trouble asking for help. Unfortunately, due to my disabilities, I often need help and I can’t avoid communicating somehow that I need it in the end. Ironicaly, this often led to me coming across as very demanding, because I would eventually get frustrated trying to do things on my own and “ask” for help in an aggressive way.

I am somewhat better now at asking for help before the situation escalates, but this is also because I have some momnets when I can ask for staff help in my daily routine. I don’t mean that I can’t ask for help at other moments, but it’s harder to do in unexpected situations.

Anxiety is one factor in preventing me from asking for help. I fear I’ll be a burden, but end up being a burden in the end because I can’t handle many situations on my own.

Another factor, however, is that I often get so overwhelmed with situations that I can’t pin down what I need help with. For example, when I have a computer problem, I often feel like the whole stupid device is crashing when in fact it might just be a particular eBook won’t load (this was a recent actual situation). In this situation, I ended up melting down because I thought my computer was crashing and I didn’t know what else to do than work on the computer and well now I probably needed to buy a new computer anyway, and… you get the idea. The question about what you’d do if your computer crashed, is the only one I end up answering “incorrectly” (ie. like a neurotypical) on the NT screening test on Autistics.org. Then again, I doubt having a massive meltdown is particularly characteristic of neurotypicality. I answer that I ask a family member, but usually, I don’t.

The worst about asking for help is that you have to be really clear about what you need help with and how the other person can help you. This is hard enough when I’m mentally well, but when I am in a bad mental state, this is not possible for me. Fortunately, some good mental health professionals recognize this. When I am in a psychiatric crisis, I usually can’t say what I need, because I have no clue. In this situation, even though I ultimately have the right to refuse intervention because I’m an informal patient, I need peoople to propose what might be best for me. Unfortunately, some people just look at my diagnosis, borderline personality disorder (and forget the autism), and say I am an adult so need to take responsibility for my own life (even though adults with other diagnoses get much more directive care). I may not like being told what is best for me, but sometimes, making this choice is exactly what I need help with.

Mama’s Losin’ It

The Realities of an Asperger’s Diagnosis

A few weeks ago, I read an article in a women’s magazine about autism. It started out by explaining that autism is a spectrum and then went on to say that Asperger’s Syndrome is the mildest form of autism. Someone sent in a response saying that Asperger’s can be severely disabling too and, because it is often misunderstood, may be more severe in some ways than classic autism.

I have an Asperger’s diagnosis. I also have a high IQ. I can attest to the common misconcetpions surrounding an Asperger’s diagnosis. For one thing, the ability to speak does not necessarily mean that someone can communicate effectively. Even if speech on the surface makes sense, that doesn’t mean the Aspie’s words come out of their mouth as they were intended. However, because we have normal to above-normal intelligence, we’re assumed to “know better” and our miscommunicatin is understood to be willful misbehavior.

Speaking of behavior, it is a common misconception that Aspies don’t have as severe or as frequent aggressive or self-harming outbursts as those with classic or “low-functioning” autism do. H.L. Doherty, a father of a child with classic autism and an intellectual disability, often makes this mistake. He does so again when he talks about shards of severe autism reality. In this post, Doherty describes the consequencces of his son’s self-injurious meltdowns, and accuses autistic advocates of ignoring this reality. He connotes that those with “high-functioning” autism, ie those who can disagree with Doherty on the Internet, do not have these experiences. I, for one, do.

When I still lived in independence training, I had meltdowns almost everyday. An experience like the one Doherty describes is quite familiar to me and occurred regularly until I went on medication in 2010. My last episode of severe self-injury was two months ago, and it was so scary that I went into seclusion for a night.

Now I for one agree with Doherty on some controversies. I disagree on others. My agreeing or disagreeing and how eloquently I can put this into writing, does not change anything about my functioning level in any other area than written communication about a specific topic. I am too ashamed to write about some of my Aspie realities. The details of my severe self-care difficulties, for example. I know that Doherty and his supporters would not believe me anyway. After all, I’m so intelligent. Yes, I am. Relative intelligence is required for an Asperger’s diagnosis. That does not cause any of my difficulties to go away.

Ten Patches This Autistic Person Could Use

The Golden Spoons

This is my first time participating in the Tuesday Ten. I’ve been wanting to for a while, but usually I found other things to blog about on Tuesday. Either that, or I simply forgot. The theme for this week is “I need a patch for that”, because this is the weird holdiay celebration tomorrow. Lisa of The Golden Spoons, one of the hosts, wrote ten patches every mother needs. I got thinking about that. I’m not a Mom, so I can’t really expand on those. Then I got thinking: what would I like patches for? And here’s a list of pathes this autistic person would need. Some of them can be seen as “cures” for certain symptoms of autism, while others are work-around patches and still others are patches for the social stigma and misunderstanding I encoutner.

  1. An anti-overload patch. Even though traditional autistic advocates say they would never take medication to hear or feel less, I certainly would. The thing about a patch, however, is that I can put it on and take it off again, unlike the daily medication I currently take for overload-caused irritability.

  2. An energy patch. Stole this one from Lisa, but I too think I could benefit from it. Living as an autistic can be quite exhausting, after all.

  3. A tolerance patch. To put on others when they have a strikingly intolerant attitude. Mostly staff, that is, so I don’t know how I’d get them to put it on, given that their attitude would prevent them from seeing they need it.

  4. A translation patch. I usually misunderstand people and, rather than putting on a “communicate like a neurotypical” patch, I’d like a translator that sits between me and the neurotypical.

  5. An easy text-to-speech patch. While we’re communicating anyway, I’d like to be able to write rather than speak. While text-to-speech apps are already available, I’d like one that I can easily use and that doesn’t make me look like a weirdo. I’d also like it to translate from speech to text (or braille, in my case). I’ve honestly been thinking of wanting a Communicator, which is a device used by deafblind people, but they’re very expensive and I’m not eligible for funds. i’m verbal, after all.

  6. A patience patch. Again, this one is stolen from Lisa, and I’d like to put it on others again, though I could myself use some patience at times.

  7. A perseveration patch. The good thing about patches again is the ability to put them on and take them off. Today, I’ve been looking everywhere for some perseveration, while at other times, I’m totally immersed in my special interest.

  8. An antidepressant patch. I don’t suffer from clinical depression, but I do have days when I’m very depressed. Again, like the anti-overload patch, this would seem like a better alternative to my current daily antidepressant.

  9. A patchwork weighted blanket: Lisa said patches can be any sort, so patchwork quilts are included. I’ve always wanted a weighted blanket, but never took the effort to find myself one.

  10. An executive functioning patch: something like an anti-procrastination patch, but it’ll also break down difficult tasks into smaller, easy-to-follow steps.

Note that every autistic person is different. This is why I referred to “this autistic person” in my post title rather than “every autistic person”. If you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person, after all. If you’d like to contribute what patches you could use in life, write a list of ten and hop over to Lisa’s blog to submit it.

Diagnonsense: Blindness and Autism

Today was treatment plan review time again. This inevitabley means that my diagnosis needs to be reviewed too. Last September, this meant a change of diagnosis from dissociative identity disorder and PTSD to borderline personality disorder. I also have a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder or Asperger’s depending on which professional you ask. The details of this diagnosis – whether it’s Asperger’s, autism spectrum disorder, or something else along the spectrum entirely -, don’t bother me. What does bother me is the constant questioning about whether I truly am autistic or all my difficulties are normal for someone who is blind.

I have read a fair amount of information on this, and it is true that blind and autistic people display overlapping behaviors. For example, many blind children (but not most adults) flick their fingers in front of their eyes or rock back and forth. These “blindisms” are also common in autistic people. Blind people also can’t use visual cues to communicate. This led my therapist to assume that all blind people are clueless about for example sarcasm used in speech. Generally, it is recommended that the criterion on non-verbal commnication be left out of the equation when deciding whether someone who is blind meets the criteria for an ASD.

I don’t care about this single criterion as it isn’t the only one in the diagnostic manual. What I do care about, is when underlying mechanisms of autism are attributed to all blind people. For example, my therapist said that all blind people have trouble keeping sight of the big picture. This may be so to a certain extent, in that all blind people again miss visual cues, but it isn’t like all blind people have no clue how to generalize daily living skills from the training facility or parental home to the independent living situation. My support worker, who had extensive experience with blind people, told me when I moved into independent living from her training home that I could obviously clean my apartment, as “a bathroom is a bathroom”, etc. To me, it certainly isn’t. Similarly, most blind people beyond early childhood don’t get overwhelmed by noise. This again led to a horrible misunderstanding when I, early in my independent living experienece, had a meltdown over a fire truck driving by.

Now I don’t care what my diagnosis is as long as I get the right support, but this is exactly where questioning my autism diagnosis is problematic. People with only a mobility or sensory impairment cannot get support. They can get a housekeeper, but they can’t get anyone to help them organize their lives or navigate social or practical situations.

A general rule is that, if normal strategies for the blind do not work, there has to be something else going on. I’ve lived in enough facilities for the blind to know my behavior clealry isn’t normal for a blind person. In fact, it was the staff at the training home who first sought an autism evaluation for me. They didn’t seek this for all their clients. In the end, my current therapist also left the diagnosis untouched, but I get sick and tired of constantly having my needs questined. Of course, I know I truly have “preemie syndrome”, a constellation of neurodevelopmental problems commonly associated with premature birth, but this isn’t a formal diagnosis and won’t ever be one.

Love with Actions, Not Words

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18 NIV)

Many people experience on a pretty regular basis that words sometimes contradict actions. I personally experience that the words tht come out of my mouth often even contradict my own thoughts or what I wanted to communicate. Many people with mental illness or developmental disabilities find it hard to comunicate in words and, for some, this especially goes for affective communicaiton. This is why it is sometimes hard for people who do not know the person well to understand what they’re feeling. It is however also why people who know the disabled person well do appreciate hte person’s love and affection, because it is not shown in words but in actions.

I remember when I was yougn, when I and my parents had an argument or a fight, one of us would often say in an emotional voice: “But I love you!” This may’ve been so (I’m pretty sure my parents love me, and I love them), but it didn’t come across to me (or them, when I was the one doing this). Actions did.

These actions do not have to be material, but they do not have to be all immaterial etiehr. I still have a hard time balancing material gifts with gifts of kindness, mostly because I can be pretty, well, inconsiderate without meaning to. I know that the person who showers their partner with gifts, is not necessairly the most loving partner, but just communicating love, through either words or body language, isn’t always effective either.

Then again, a simple offer to help, a “Thank you”, etc. are actions of love that do not literally scream “I love you”. These actions, too, can be done to people other than your partner. Now I am not sure that in our modern society, “love” is the right word for our affinity to strangers, but you can perform acts that indicate appreciation to anyone.