The current blogspot will be based on the various strategies and techniques that can be used with adults having autism disorder or autism symptoms. We will learn how conversation skills among adults with autism can be strengthened and improved through various effective strategies. 

What are the autism conversation skills among adults?

Following are the tips to improve autism conversation skills among adults:

  • Address the autistic adult as any other adult 
  • Avoid using overfamiliar jargons
  • Maintain clarity
  • Listen attentively
  • Give wait time
  • Provide constructive feedback
  • Model appropriate behavior

Address the autistic adult as any other adult 

People often assume that autistic adults have cognitive abilities that lag behind other people.assuming that, autistic people are often talked to in a childish tone or people believe that they are not worthy of understanding the adult communication as per their comprehension abilities and communication skills.  

Autistic adults are able to respond to situations and understand them however their ability to respond back verbally is not appropriate enough.

Avoid using overfamiliar jargons

While conversing with autistic adults, try not to use overfamiliar words like sweetie, honey or darling as they sound demeaning. The autistic adult may perceive that he is being given these names that show his intellectual level is not at par with his chronological age.

Maintain clarity

While communicating with autistic adults, try to maintain a firm tone and use clear words. The autistic adults are unable to understand words that are in the form of idioms, phrases or metaphors.

Listen attentively

While talking to the autistic adults listen attentively to them. Pay attention to their words and what they are trying to communicate. Using concise words and avoiding slang is the key while communicating with autistic adults.

Give wait time

When asking questions to the autistic adults, try to be clear and concise about framing the questions. Give them enough wait time for answering the questions. In this way,they learn that they are being attended well and are not being harsh or rude towards them.

Provide constructive feedback

Avoiding criticisms and providing constructive feedback to the autsitic adults during the conversations is a key to help them encourage and motivate them in conversations. Through positive constructive feedback, austitic adults are appreciated for being involved in conversations.

Model appropriate behavior

While in group settings try to model appropriate behavior with regards to the autistic adult. Try your best to engage him or her in the family and group discussions. Try not to talk about the person as if the person is not available in the room or the vicinity.

Ways to improve conversation skills in adults with autism

Inorder to improve conversation skills in adults with autism, the following strategies are recommended :

  • Self reflection
  • Identify boundaries
  • Advocacy and disclosure

Self reflection

Self reflection along with self awareness is a key to carry out meaningful and functional conversation between adults. 

Adults with autism spectrum disorder often experience lack o f self awareness as a result of which it gets difficult for them to draw a line between their own preferences and the other people’s preference regarding any matter.

Lack of Self awareness often pushes adults with autism in scenarios that make them unable to carry meaningful conversations. They are unable to use appropriate words, emotions and actions as per the social context. They find it difficult to modify their own behaviors according to the social scenarios. Further, they also seem unable to identify, recognize and express their own feelings and thoughts along with the thoughts and expressions of people involved in the conversation. 

Research studies have also advocated self reflection as a significant strategy to help adults with autism to overcome the gaps in having meaningful conversations. Thus self awareness and self regulation can help adults with autism to better relate to and understand social cues, social norms, social values and various pathways that often lead to conflict in social settings.

Further encouraging the adults with autism spectrum disorder to identify their core values can help them identify interpersonal goals. A core value is defined as a social construct of motivation that is stable and is based on a belief that outlines a desired outcome. Outlining the interpersonal goals through social constructs can help adults with autism spectrum disorder to work towards establishing and mastering new social skills.

Identify boundaries

Identifying the personal boundaries in social relationships is a social construct that is of immense importance for adults with autism. The adults with autism need to have a sound knowledge of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable when it comes to functional and healthy interpersonal relationships.

Adults with autism need to know that if they allow kind and caring people to be with them and form relationships with them, those kind and caring people are not going to hurt them in any physical, mental or emotional way rather they will help them to foster their psychological well-being by supporting them.

Identifying boundaries help the adults with autism to save themselves from being abused mentaly, physically, sexualy or emotionaly.  

Advocacy and disclosure

The advocacy and disclosure helps in psychoeducating the adults with autism about various life conflicts. Usually adults with autism are unable to understand the conflict situation as a whole. The conflict scenario needs to be broken down into more small parts that seem easy for the adults with autism to understand during the conversation. 

Similarly the conflict resolution with adults with autism involves setting realistic and achievable goals step by step inorder to move towards the final solution.

One other way to teach adults with autism the skills to have healthy communication is to enable them to learn sandwiching their negative evaluations between positive  criticism. 

Hence by utilizing self awareness, self disclosure, self regulation, boundary setting and advocacy; the adults with autism can certainly enhance their skills of conversation and have meaningful and effective interpersonal relations.

Difficulties in autism conversation skills among adults

The autism conversation skills among individuals are highlighted by :

  • Language Characteristics of Autism conversation skills among adults
  • Social Communication of autism conversation skills among adults
  • Emotional reciprocity and behavioral symptoms of autism conversation skills among adults

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Language Characteristics of Autism conversation skills among adults

The following are the prominent characteristic of language among autism adult conversation :

  • The conversations of adults with autism may appear to have good vocabulary and a command over the verbal utterances depending on the autism with or without intellectual dysfunctioning.
  • Conversations of adults with autism may at times include repetition of phrases and jargons heard in some other situations. This phenomena, known as echolalia, impairs the ability of adults with autism to carry out healthy conversations.
  • Conversation skills of adults with autism symptoms usually lack the insight about the depth of the words being used and the breath of the words being used. However, they may use words fluently while conversing with a minimum knowledge of the meaning associated with the words being used in conversation.
  • It is usually difficult for adults with autism to use figurative language in their conversation. They usually have a tough time in using idioms, phrases, metaphors and similes in their conversation with others. They also find it difficult to understand any of the figurative speech components when used by other people in conversations.
  • It is usually difficult for adults with autism to understand that conversation through print medium and one to one conversation has different rules and some of the words may have alternate meanings in both types of conversations.
  • The adults with autism spectrum disorder usually have difficulty in taking suggestions, criticisms and recommendations during the conversation.
  • It is difficult for adults with autism symptoms to draw inferences and conclude conversations.
  • Adults with autism symptoms appear to have difficulty in relating to humor during the conversation and often are unable to use and enjoy humor during conversations.
  • The conversations involving questions based on 5 W’s and H appear difficult for them. The adults with autism usually feel shaky when they are questioned directly and may answer appropriately.
  • The sentences that are straight and simple are much easier to comprehend by the adults with autism. However the complex sentences that involve clauses are difficult for the adults with autism spectrum to be understood.
  • The conversations of adults with autism spectrum are usually focused on the key words in the communicated message. They  have difficulty in understanding the grammar and the message being communicated by the grammar.
  • Due to impaired oral language, the reading abilities and oral speech may be impaired in adults with autism symptoms. 
  • During conversations, adults with autism usually have difficulty in connecting one sentence with another. They lack the ability to deduce meaning or main idea of the conversation.

Social Communication of autism conversation skills among adults

The social communication of adults with autism is characterized by verbal and nonverbal difficulties that keep them from having meaningful conversations.  Communication is a process that is not based on monologue and requires at least one person to communicate with and share thoughts and ideas with. 

Since communication has no preset rules and is based on the effectiveness of the people communicating with each other along their interpersonal skills and intrapersonal skills, the autism symptoms of impaired non verbal communication and deficits in verbal speech and comprehension interfere with social communication of adults with autism.

The adults with autism during their conversations may:

  • Having difficulty in focusing on the other person’s perspective of the situation. They usually view scenarios from their own perspectives. 
  • They don’t have an idea that thoughts, opinions, points of views, emotions, likes and dislikes are unique  to every individual.
  • They have a difficulty in maintaining eye contact with people in conversations and either do not maintain eye contact at all or have a minimum eye contact.
  • The adults with autism are usually hypersensitive or hypo sensitive to sensory stimuli. As a result, they can be distracted if another person in conversation tries to maintain eye contact for long or moves hands during the conversations.
  • They don’t have an idea about their pace during the conversation. They have a tendency to speak either too fast or too slow during a conversation. They have a little idea about their partner in conversation, his intellect and his needs.
  • Adults with autism lack the ability to stay on a single topic during a conversation. They may go straight off the topic or go circular in a topic. They easily get distracted during conversations and it is difficult to keep them focused.
  • The reciprocity in a conversation is usually missing when adults with autism get involved in conversations. They are unable to speak with the same level of energy and emotions.
  • Self talk is a characteristic of adults with autism. They often engage in self talk at public places and in social gatherings. They have a minimum idea about others being able to hear their self-talking. They may talk as loud as they want.
  • They usually lack active listening and responding skills
  • They are unable to attend to the auditory message if they are hyperstimulated by any sensory stimuli.
  • They are unable to phrase their sentences in ways that are acceptable for others. 
  • They use words and sentences that are based on facts and logic but they might hurt the feelings or well-being of other individuals involved in the conversation.
  • They are usually unaware of the other person in the conversation. They lack the knowledge of the significance of the role the other person is playing in the conversation. They are thus not accurate enough in their selection of words, grammar and tone of conversation.
  • They are not aware of the fact that they need to provide sufficient information to the partner in conversation to communicate a certain message. They usually use words and minimal usage of grammar is focused. As a result the communicated message is often vague and not clear.
  • Adults with autism lack the ability to respond actively to the other people in the conversation. They lack the appropriate abilities for probing or clarifying any concept further and thus lack in the comprehension ability.
  • Pseudo-sophisticated language is a prominent feature of conversations of adults with autism. They tend to mask their failings by using vocabulary that helps them with impression management.
  • They are not efficient at deceiving others or manipulating others through mind games.
  • They lack the understanding of the subliminal nature of the relationship and often get used by others.
  • Adults with autism are able to remember factual knowledge and information regarding face value of events much more than the insight or deep information about anything or an event.
  • Adults with autism have a tendency to talk about unusual stuff during conversation that makes no connection to the topic of conversation.
  • Adults with autism are socially inept to have an idea about where to talk about what and where not to talk about a certain topic.
  • Just like echolalia, echopraxia makes the adults with autism ask repetitive questions or get stuck on a certain topic during conversation.
  • Adults with autism usually desire social interaction but lack the information and skills of forming meaningful social relations and initiating conversations.
  • Adults with autism are unable to identify when they are being cheated upon by others or being manipulated by others during a conversation.
  • Adults with autism lack the skills to empathize with people. They may be able to identify the basic emotions but lack the knowledge to understand changes in affective component and cognitive component of individuals.
  • They are unable to draw conclusions and predict events due to lack of comprehension about social skills and interpersonal relations.
  • They are socially naive to predict behaviors, thoughts and feelings of individuals in the conversations.
  • They have a difficulty in processing the message being communicated and talking about it at the same time. Multitasking in conversations is usually difficult for adults with autism.

Emotional reciprocity and behavioral symptoms of autism conversation skills among adults

The adults with autism lack the ability to identify, manage, express and regulate their own emotions. They are also not able to understand their emotional needs and desires. It is very normal for adults with autism to have difficulty in emotionally reciprocating the thoughts and emotions in any relationship. 

Even if an adult with autism knows the emotion they need to communicate, they don’t know how to communicate it appropriately to the other people in conversation.

Thus adults with autism are :

  • More vulnerable to get bullied
  • Appear very egocentric to other people as they fail to associate meaning to the needs of other people. 
  • Have an ability to perceive events in black and white. They view events as concrete factual situations.
  • They have a tendency to focus on the details only and fail to consider any situation or scenario as a whole.
  • They engage in ritualistic behaviors and repeat their desired behaviors without considering the social context and the time being wasted.
  • Often have obsessive thoughts regarding past, present or future life events.
  • They have difficulty adjusting to change in their environment. They are unable to comprehend even if the change is for their own good.
  • Adapting to changing social contexts is often difficult for them.
  • Exhibit social anxiety in a number of social contexts with a little knowledge of coping with it.
  • May exhibit suicidal thoughts without the understanding of the death.
  • Are more prone to verbal, physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
  • Are prepositional to obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Are very likely to develop seizures
  • Have sensory issues that interfere with their interpersonal relations. Either be more sensitive or less sensitive to sensory stimuli.
  • Have impaired executive functioning. Are unable to plan, organize and create independently.
  • Need supervision and constant monitoring for getting employed 
  • Have a sharp memory for odd details but their working memory is usually weak
  • Are usually socially withdrawn and isolated as they lack meaningful social relations.


The current blogspot focused on the details of various conversation skills among adults with autism spectrum disorder. We learned the various ways that act as a roadblock in conversations of adults with autism. We discussed the characteristics of language impairment, speech impairment and social reciprocity that are a feature of autism spectrum disorder and have negative impact on conversation of adults with autism spectrum disorder.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Autism Conversation Skills among adults

How can adults improve their communication skills with autism?

Adults with autism can improve their communication skills by :

Self reflecting on the core values
Outlining their personal and professional boundaries
Advocating from their findings and disclosing their needs and desires

What are the 3 main symptoms of autism in adults?

The 3 main symptoms of autism are :

Anxiety about social situations
Lack of social and emotional reciprocity
Imapired executive functioning

How does autism affect communication in adults?

Autism affect communication among adults by :

Inability to exhibit appropriate verbal and nonverbal communication skills
Inability to modify behavior as per the social context
Difficulty to socially or emotionally reciprocate
Hyperreactivity or hyporeactivity to sensory stimuli