Social skills for autonomous people
Listening to people who have disability accents

cicero-of-cyrodiil:

realsocialskills:

mzminola:

realsocialskills:

People with certain disabilities often have heavy disability accents. Their speech can sound very different from the way most nondisabled people speak.

People with disabilities that affect communication are often pushed into separate programs, particularly in adulthood. Even when they are in the same classes in the same schools, there isn’t much of an expectation that any peers listen to them. This was even more true a generation ago. As a result, most people without disabilities are lousy at understanding people with disability accents, and don’t understand that this is a glaring hole in their social skills.

Many unskilled people tend to maybe ask people with disability accents to repeat themselves once, and then they get frustrated and start ignoring them. Sometimes they pretend to understand, and smile and nod rather than actually listening. Sometimes they hang up on them. Sometimes they pass them off to another person, who also doesn’t bother to actually listen. Sometimes they hang up. If they are medical workers, sometimes they write on a chart that someone is impossible to understand or has no communication (particularly if that person also has an intellectual disability.)

Do not be this person. If you can’t understand someone with a disability accent, the problem is your skills, not their voice. (If you have a receptive language disability that prevents you from learning to understand accents, then it’s no one’s fault and you need an interpreter to communicate. Neither their voice nor your brain is wrong. In that situation, the skill you need to develop is finding an interpreter).

If you listen, and make it clear that you are listening, you will learn to understand, and you will be able to communicate successfully with more people. 

An important phrase for this is “I’m having trouble understanding what you’re saying, but I care what you are saying.”

Make sure it’s true, and keep listening. The more you listen, the easier it will be to understand. Understanding . And practice. You get better with practice.

Too many people are ignored because others can’t be bothered to understand their accents. You can make this better by listening (and by insisting that people you supervise listen.)

mzminola said:

I’d like to add that “finding an interpreter” is not necessarily the only option, or even always most effective option, assuming “an interpreter” = “another human”.

If speaker and listener both have reading & writing skills in the same language (or even if just the speaker can write and the listener can read) then the two can communicate in writing, and not have to involve a third person.

If at least one has an Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) device, then that could sometimes be used too.

I work in retail and have auditory processing difficulties. With customers and coworkers who share my dialect of English, I still find myself asking for repetition, or re-wording. Recently, I had to ask a customer who needed an item placed on hold to repeat herself about five times, as our interaction was over the phone, and there was too much background noise on both our ends.

When I get customers who do not share my dialect of English (speaking a dialect from a distant part of United States, or who have English as their second language) the amount of repetition/re-wording needed increases. If there is no assistance available to the two of us, I will lead the customer to the part of the store I think contains what they’re searching for. If I have misunderstood them, they tell me, and we try to find more descriptions and alternative phrasing, until either we do find what they need, or rope in more coworkers, or traverse the whole store and find that we don’t carry what they seek.

In the case of English-as-second-language customers, many do bring their own interpreter, often a relative, and between the three of us, a similar process as the above goes down, but much faster.

Highly effective are the customers who bring a smart phone, tablet, or other AAC device; computer-translated vocabulary isn’t always as exact or nuanced as needed, but it eliminates auditory processing issues from the equation, and the customer is also able to show me pictures.

Customers who share my dialect and have no noticeable disability accent also benefit from bringing AAC devices with them shopping, because if they can access the store’s website and find the product code, we can search our inventory, something we’re not able to do with just a description/name. Or they show me pictures of what they want, and while we might not have the same product, I can find them something similar. Corporate encourages use of such tech, offering coupons/sales/discounts through multiple platforms.

Summary of my thoughts: human interpreters are one of many  communication options, alongside writing, computers, etc. Which will be the most effective or practical varies contextually.

realsocialskills said:

Thank you for the important points you’ve added.

cicero-of-cyrodiil said:

You can have a receptive language difficulty?

realsocialskills said:

Yes, absolutely. It’s a cognitive issue that’s fairly common in autistic people. There are also auditory processing problems that can interfere with understanding speech (which are cognitive, not a problem with the ears). They are not the same thing, but have significant overlap (and a lot of people have both).

That’s one reason that some people need symbol support to be able to use AAC, and a reason that some people who are not deaf need captions to be able to understand TV. (And any number of other things).

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iguanafish replied to your post “Anonymous said: Is it rude to wave your hands in front of…”

Option 3: this is someone whom this is happening to and they want validation that it’s wrong. That’s one reason this could “even” be a question.

realsocialskills said:

It didn’t sound that way to me, but that possibility is part of the reason I explained personal space first. I think you’re right that I ought to have taken that possibility into account more explicitly than I did though.

So here’s an answer, if that was the question:

No one has the right to wave their hand in your face, especially if they know you don’t like that. (Unless you’re their caregiver and you’re neglecting them in dangerous ways and that’s the only viable way they  can get your attention).

People who insist on putting their hand in your face are being mean. They’re not doing it because of your body language or your disability, they are doing it because they are mean. You’re ok, they’re mean.

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Is it rude to wave your hands in front of someone’s face or push your face in front of their eyes when they tell you not to that because they’re staring through you?

realsocialskills said:

Yes, it’s rude. It’s beyond rude. It’s a violation, and it’s important that you stop doing that.

I’m not sure why this is even a question. I’m guessing a couple of different possibilities:

Possibility number one: you’re a person with a disability, and you’re confused by the concept of personal space.

Personal space is a bit hard to explain. It’s kind of along the lines of this:

  • Bodies are private
  • People shouldn’t touch you without permission, unless there’s an emergency (eg: you’re about to walk into traffic)
  • If people need to touch you and they don’t understand your communication, they should still explain what they’re doing and why they’re doing it
  • And they should still try to ask, and explain that since they don’t understand, they’re having to make guesses
  • The space close to your body is kind of like part of your body, for this purpose
  • No one should be putting things very close to you, or putting their hands in your face, or putting their face very close to yours, unless they have a strong reason to believe that you agree to this
  • You shouldn’t be doing this to other people either. Because their personal space is theirs, and it’s up to them whether or not they want to invite you into it

Possibility number two: you’re a person who works with people with developmental disabilities, and you don’t yet realize that people whose communication and affect is different than yours are as entitled to personal space as you are.

This might be because you don’t realize that atypical communication is communication. Or because you think people need to be normalized to be ok. Or because you think a disabled affect is rude, and that you are entitled to force disabled people to be polite to you. Or any number of other things. I’m not sure what to say about that, except that you’re being rude and invasive and that you should respect personal space and boundaries. 

Some people can’t listen and look at your face at the same time. That doesn’t mean they’re not listening.

Learn to figure out other indications of their attention.

Learn other ways of getting their attention that they’re ok with.

Also: When someone you support is not paying attention to you, consider the possibility that they might be correct not to. They might be ignoring you because you are demanding their attention in circumstances in which it is unwarranted and invasive. People with disabilities have the right to stare into space during their free time without a staff person interrupting and making them interact. 

Be careful about demanding attention when you want to teach, too. If you’re their staff trying to put them on a program teaching something, and they’re ignoring you, they may well be right to. Adults get to decide that they don’t want to learn something. (And, in a lot of circumstances, so do children. If a child isn’t making any choices at all about what they’re doing with their time and what they’re learning, something is wrong.)

tl;dr Don’t wave your hand in front of someone’s face, especially if they’ve told you not to. It’s degrading and mean.

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Listening to people who have disability accents

mzminola:

realsocialskills:

People with certain disabilities often have heavy disability accents. Their speech can sound very different from the way most nondisabled people speak.

People with disabilities that affect communication are often pushed into separate programs, particularly in adulthood. Even when they are in the same classes in the same schools, there isn’t much of an expectation that any peers listen to them. This was even more true a generation ago. As a result, most people without disabilities are lousy at understanding people with disability accents, and don’t understand that this is a glaring hole in their social skills.

Many unskilled people tend to maybe ask people with disability accents to repeat themselves once, and then they get frustrated and start ignoring them. Sometimes they pretend to understand, and smile and nod rather than actually listening. Sometimes they hang up on them. Sometimes they pass them off to another person, who also doesn’t bother to actually listen. Sometimes they hang up. If they are medical workers, sometimes they write on a chart that someone is impossible to understand or has no communication (particularly if that person also has an intellectual disability.)

Do not be this person. If you can’t understand someone with a disability accent, the problem is your skills, not their voice. (If you have a receptive language disability that prevents you from learning to understand accents, then it’s no one’s fault and you need an interpreter to communicate. Neither their voice nor your brain is wrong. In that situation, the skill you need to develop is finding an interpreter).

If you listen, and make it clear that you are listening, you will learn to understand, and you will be able to communicate successfully with more people. 

An important phrase for this is “I’m having trouble understanding what you’re saying, but I care what you are saying.”

Make sure it’s true, and keep listening. The more you listen, the easier it will be to understand. Understanding . And practice. You get better with practice.

Too many people are ignored because others can’t be bothered to understand their accents. You can make this better by listening (and by insisting that people you supervise listen.)

mzminola said:

I’d like to add that “finding an interpreter” is not necessarily the only option, or even always most effective option, assuming “an interpreter” = “another human”.

If speaker and listener both have reading & writing skills in the same language (or even if just the speaker can write and the listener can read) then the two can communicate in writing, and not have to involve a third person.

If at least one has an Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) device, then that could sometimes be used too.

I work in retail and have auditory processing difficulties. With customers and coworkers who share my dialect of English, I still find myself asking for repetition, or re-wording. Recently, I had to ask a customer who needed an item placed on hold to repeat herself about five times, as our interaction was over the phone, and there was too much background noise on both our ends.

When I get customers who do not share my dialect of English (speaking a dialect from a distant part of United States, or who have English as their second language) the amount of repetition/re-wording needed increases. If there is no assistance available to the two of us, I will lead the customer to the part of the store I think contains what they’re searching for. If I have misunderstood them, they tell me, and we try to find more descriptions and alternative phrasing, until either we do find what they need, or rope in more coworkers, or traverse the whole store and find that we don’t carry what they seek.

In the case of English-as-second-language customers, many do bring their own interpreter, often a relative, and between the three of us, a similar process as the above goes down, but much faster.

Highly effective are the customers who bring a smart phone, tablet, or other AAC device; computer-translated vocabulary isn’t always as exact or nuanced as needed, but it eliminates auditory processing issues from the equation, and the customer is also able to show me pictures.

Customers who share my dialect and have no noticeable disability accent also benefit from bringing AAC devices with them shopping, because if they can access the store’s website and find the product code, we can search our inventory, something we’re not able to do with just a description/name. Or they show me pictures of what they want, and while we might not have the same product, I can find them something similar. Corporate encourages use of such tech, offering coupons/sales/discounts through multiple platforms.

Summary of my thoughts: human interpreters are one of many  communication options, alongside writing, computers, etc. Which will be the most effective or practical varies contextually.

realsocialskills said:

Thank you for the important points you’ve added.

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iguanafish replied to your post “Listening to people who have disability accents”

is this an appropriate time to say “i’m so sorry” wrt struggling to understand someone, or does that come off as condescending? i don’t hear very well (or very fast, i guess, auditory processing thing) and i have the worst time with all accents

realsocialskills said:

I don’t know. What do y’all think? 

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Listening to people who have disability accents

People with certain disabilities often have heavy disability accents. Their speech can sound very different from the way most nondisabled people speak.

People with disabilities that affect communication are often pushed into separate programs, particularly in adulthood. Even when they are in the same classes in the same schools, there isn’t much of an expectation that any peers listen to them. This was even more true a generation ago. As a result, most people without disabilities are lousy at understanding people with disability accents, and don’t understand that this is a glaring hole in their social skills.

Many unskilled people tend to maybe ask people with disability accents to repeat themselves once, and then they get frustrated and start ignoring them. Sometimes they pretend to understand, and smile and nod rather than actually listening. Sometimes they hang up on them. Sometimes they pass them off to another person, who also doesn’t bother to actually listen. Sometimes they hang up. If they are medical workers, sometimes they write on a chart that someone is impossible to understand or has no communication (particularly if that person also has an intellectual disability.)

Do not be this person. If you can’t understand someone with a disability accent, the problem is your skills, not their voice. (If you have a receptive language disability that prevents you from learning to understand accents, then it’s no one’s fault and you need an interpreter to communicate. Neither their voice nor your brain is wrong. In that situation, the skill you need to develop is finding an interpreter. EDITED TO ADD: I got this part somewhat wrong, and someone reblogged it with an important addition).

If you listen, and make it clear that you are listening, you will learn to understand, and you will be able to communicate successfully with more people. 

An important phrase for this is “I’m having trouble understanding what you’re saying, but I care what you are saying.”

Make sure it’s true, and keep listening. The more you listen, the easier it will be to understand. Understanding . And practice. You get better with practice.

Too many people are ignored because others can’t be bothered to understand their accents. You can make this better by listening (and by insisting that people you supervise listen.)

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You are not alone

youneedacat:

realsocialskills:

If you are being hurt by a person, they’re likely trying to convince you that no one else could possibly understand your relationship.

If you’re being hurt by your family, they’re likely trying to convince you that no one else could possibly understand your family.

If you are being hurt by a community, they’re likely trying to convince you that no one from outside the community can possibly understand.

It’s not true. You are not alone. There are others outside your relationship, family, and community, who can relate to what you’re going through and who can help.

Some aspects of your relationship, family, or community are unique. Some of them are probably unusual, positive, and hard for outsiders to understand. But that is not the barrier that those who are hurting you want you to think it is. It is not insurmountable.

People do not have to understand absolutely everything in order to relate to your experiences in important ways.

You can make connections with others, and a lot of things you have experienced will be very, very similar. Some aspects of abuse are universal. Others are very common. (One very common aspect of abuse is that there is often something about the relationship that is positive, unusual, and secret or hard to describe.). 

The people who you can relate to may be very different from you in a lot of ways. They may be a different age, ethnicity, religion, race, gender, or culture than you. Maybe they are disabled and you aren’t. Maybe their disability is different, or more severe, than yours. Maybe the particular horrors they faced took a different shape. That matters, but it’s not the only thing that matters.

It is ok to relate to the experiences of people who are very different from you. It is not appropriation. (It is not ok to pretend that your experiences are identical; but it’s completely possible to relate without doing that.) Don’t let anyone tell you to only listen to people who are just like you. We all need each other.

People may be trying to isolate you, but you are not alone. Other people can and do understand and care about the ways in which you are getting hurt.

youneedacat said:

I think this is one of the most harmful things about the flagrant misuse of the word ‘appropriation’ that I’ve seen flood through tumblr.  Like, “It’s appropriation if you flap your hands and you’re not autistic.”  As if autistic people have a secret cultural patent on hand-flapping.

But seriously — this fear of identifying with each other is toxic.  It’s far more toxic than the occasional overidentification is.  Overidentification can be plenty bad, and I dislike it as much as anyone does.  But.  What I see happening on tumblr and other places that adopt this attitude, is people getting pushed apart.

People getting pushed apart needlessly.  Because people are afraid to identify with each other’s experiences for fear of being ‘appropriative’.  (Which isn’t even what real appropriation looks like.  Real appropriation is horrible and awful and nasty, but it is not the same as identifying with someone different than yourself.  I keep wanting to say, “You’re appropriating the word appropriation.”)

And I think even in activist contexts this gets things screwed up.  It prevents solidarity among people with similar experiences.  It prevents people from different oppressed groups from comparing notes and learning from each other.  Because everyone is so afraid of accidentally stepping on each other’s toes that they won’t get within ten feet of each other, that’s how ridiculous it’s getting.

And yes — it also screws things up in contexts where a person is being abused and needs help but is afraid to identify with the experiences of other people.  I know that’s the main topic.  But I wanted to address it in terms of activism too because there’s a serious parallel thing going on there.

It’s just… it’s all so wrong, and all so toxic, and I can see what made things go bad in this direction, but I can’t see how to fix it.  Other than setting out little packages with bits of truth in them, like I’ve talked about.  Like the original poster did.  Like I’m doing now.  And then people can find the packages and read them and decide for themselves what to think about them.

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That tone of voice.
That specific tone of voice.
Is the tone of voice that people with physical disabilities refer to when they say, ‘they talk to me like I’m Ret@rded’. I get what they mean. I don’t like being spoken to that way either. I really don’t. It grates, it demeans, it insults. I kind of hate it.
But here’s the thing.
I don’t know a single person with an intellectual disability who likes being spoken to that way either.
Not one.
So maybe we need to say “They speak to me like I’m lesser.”
Or, “They speak to me with a voice full of assumptions.”
Or, “They speak to me in a tone of voice that even puppies find offensive.”
Or, maybe best, “They speak to me in a manner that no one deserves.”
Dave Hingsburger, Rolling Around In My Head (via okc-misandry)
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nightshade-and-juniper:

blue-jayne:

You are not alone

realsocialskills:

If you are being hurt by a person, they’re likely trying to convince you that no one else could possibly understand your relationship.

If you’re being hurt by your family, they’re likely trying to convince you that no one else could…

nightshade-and-juniper: said

Of course, some of them will go the other way and try to convince you that all the crap they’re putting you through is completely normal, nothing to worry about, just a part and parcel of relationships… but of course they won’t like you discussing it with outsiders either.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, that definitely happens too.

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blue-jayne:

You are not alone

realsocialskills:

If you are being hurt by a person, they’re likely trying to convince you that no one else could possibly understand your relationship.

If you’re being hurt by your family, they’re likely trying to convince you that no one else could possibly understand your family.

If…

blue-jayne said:

this was the primary tactic of my abuser. an abuser will go out of their way to train you into this thought pattern:

"If you are being hurt by a person, they’re likely trying to convince you that no one else could possibly understand your relationship."

the thought pattern that your “special” and “unusual” and “magically extraordinary and totally unique” relationship you have together cannot be understood by anyone else and- let me paraphrase my abuser- “everything about us would be ruined if we talked about how special this is.” They train you into this so that when the abuse escalates, you feel isolated and alone, as if no one could possibly help or understand you. The abuser is invalidating the help others may give you before you have even approached someone for help!

it took me years to realize that this was what he had done.

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