Language and AS

Non AS people say things they don't mean, miss things out that they do mean, do all sorts of strange things with their faces which apparently change the meaning oftheir words -and they says AS people are odd! (Jackson 2002)

I think Luke sums up succinctly the frustration that most AS people feel when it comes to language and communication. Whilst I see Luke as enchantingly candid, his honesty being a refreshing well of clear water in a world that is too often filled with grimy duplicity, the rest of the family sometimes don't see it in quite the same way. The girls don't take kindly to being told their backsides look big, their make-up stupid or their boyfriends being told that they are the third one that week! The difficulties with facial expressions, body language and subtle meanings of language cause problems for those with AS in all walks of life. Whilst trying to provide a safe haven of security and understanding in the home, the practicalities ofexpecting everyone to speak clearly and unambiguously and understand the AS mind are not so easy in practice, and in a large family such as my own, Luke often seems to be the outsider; misunderstood and misunderstanding.

Whilst the girls sit chatting about boyfriends and music, Matthew plays snooker with his friends and Joe and Ben roll around the floor play-fighting, Luke often enters a room and, regardless of its occupants, launches into a detailed explanation of how the coding he is writing has made some spectacular change to his web page. Often he starts mid sentence, assuming that everyone automatically knows what he is talking about - his lack of theory of mind makes this an everyday occurrence. Everyone stops and looks at him in amazement and I mentally start to count down before the familiar cry reverberates around the room. "Luke you are such a freak!" Luke turns and silently curls his lip at his brothers and sisters, makes a haphazard swipe at Joe as Joe pelts him with pieces ofshredded paper, tuts and steps sideways so as not to step on Ben who is bunny hopping around his feet and wanders back into the security of his PlayStation games and his computer.. .and who can blame him?!

In such scenarios Luke says that he feels as if he is an alien and his sisters speak a completely foreign language. Maybe it is for that reason that, as if attached to a piece of elastic, he is pulled back to the soft cushion of security and familiarity of the computer?

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