What is Communication: Why is it important? A perspective from Axia ASD Ltd

What is Communication: Why is it important?
A perspective from Axia ASD Ltd
As some of you may be aware, I embarked on a degree course in April 2017 in Leadership and Management through the University of Chester (after several years of encouragement from Linda). As part of this course I chose to attend a workshop recently on Communication Skills.
I found the workshop fascinating and realised that communication is much more complex than one might initially think. I was asked to go for a Dérive at lunchtime (wikipedia.org/wiki/Dérive) – something I had never even heard of before and again I was stood mesmerised, with my mind whirring, at the impact of the environment on emotions and behaviour.
The Importance of Communication:
Working within an organisation that consists of a staff force of nine and with seven members having neurodiversity can bring challenges in terms of effective communication. In trying to understand what is an extremely broad subject, Hargie, Dickson & Tourish (2004)’s analysis offered one explanation of the complexity of communication. They state, in detail, that it is a mixture of “face to face interaction, in writing or through technological mediation”. In addition, they go on to further examine the concept of communication and refer to the importance of non-verbal communication whereby “interpersonal behaviour potentially serves a communicative function”.
On reading this and attending the recent workshop it sparked an interesting thought process regarding the emphasis of non-verbal communication with neurotypical individuals and organisations. I was then surprised and intrigued at the seemingly lack of academic literature regarding non-verbal communication in neurodiversity. Furthermore, this highlighted the uniqueness of Axia ASD Ltd as an organisation:
Axia ASD Ltd was originally formed in 1993 by Dr Buchan’s late partner and his dog! Over the years, this has evolved including Dr Buchan approaching myself to assist with some administrative duties (typing a diagnostic report up). Then, if we move to present day, as illustrated on our website, this now consists of nine members of staff.
In terms of neurodiversity within the Axia ASD Ltd team these include attentional, coordination, communication, organisational to name a few. However, communication within the team remains effective, enabling the organisation to flourish, evolve and develop.
By understanding communication in its entirety as well as understanding individuals’ difficulties, open discussions and subsequent adaptations are made on an almost instinctive basis. One example of this might be that my chosen method of communication is in writing, whether that be email, text or letter as well as more recent technological advances such as social media. In terms of why this is will be further explored by myself during my critically reflective analysis but what I can say for the wider audience is I believe it is for specific instructions to be delivered explicitly with clarity, ensuring time is given for the specific information to be received, processed and then acted upon to the best of my ability. However, I am aware that for other members within the team this is not the case. In fact, this can be said to be their least preferred method of communication. Therefore, one adaptation made is that regular meetings are now held with face to face interactions taking place and I take a notebook to write down specific notes and action points to ensure each topic is logged and each task completed.
So, what is the point of writing this article for our website?
One simple definition of communication is visual communication, sounds, touch, smell and written (https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication). Another basic meaning of communication is “the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/communication).
This then led to me questioning how someone with neurodiversity would define communication and if it would involve all of these media or just the one, for example, sounds.
I am writing this article to ask some pertinent questions from people with neurodiversity (as well as individuals without neurodiversity) as I welcome feedback and opinions to go on and develop a critically reflective analysis on Communication.
Some Examples of Communication:
  • Email
  • Letter
  • Telephone
  • Face to Face interaction
  • Non-verbal, for example, body language, facial expression
  • Social Media, for example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
  • Intrapersonal
  • Interpersonal
More specific examples of Non-Verbal Communication:
  • Glances
  • Gestures
  • Facial Expression
  • Posture
  • Tone of Voice
  • Appearance, for example, wearing a wedding ring and assumptions made or wearing a band’s t-shirt
  • Rate of Speech
  • Voice Modulation
  • Accents
  • Noises, for example, a sigh
I will end this article with a quote I found pertinent in my reading on this subject by Abercrombie
“We speak with our vocal organs, but we converse with our whole body.”
Is this true for all individuals, interestingly, for me, in neurodiverse individuals?
Article by Carly Bailey
Operational Manager and Company Secretary

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9 comments on “What is Communication: Why is it important? A perspective from Axia ASD Ltd
  1. Senior says:

    I have a feeling that many neurodiverse people are quite capable communicators, but that the people who we attempt to communicate are not great listeners. It occurred to me recently that people are not often asked to express why they think neurotypical to neurodiverse communication can be so fraught with problems. It is almost as if everything in our world has become so obsessed with the notion of time as money expenditure that the time spent actually listening to people who aren’t exactly motormouths has become too great a burden for NT tastes. It’s almost as if neurodiverse people have become yet another minority that can be largely ignored by people who begrudge the intrusion of social issues into their moneymaking time slot. That said, the inadequacies of a non-listening system are right now increasingly obvious almost everywhere. We may be on the cusp of some quite radical alterations to the global economic system, but it might well be that poor communicators such as Trump and Kim Jong Un will be the death of us all before any really radical action is allowed to happen. Our so-called elites revel in dumbing down societies to their low level of communication.
    But more specifically, I really do think we need to investigate what it is about neurodiverse communication that switches off ‘listening’ amongst others.

  2. Senior says:

    Hope that hasn’t strayed too far from your thoughts Carly, Personally, I despair of the affects of some social media such as Facebook. And our mobile devices seem to destroying people’s attention spans and ability to communicate effectively F2F

  3. Carly Bailey says:

    Thank you for commenting, I really do appreciate any feedback whether positive or negative experiences of communication.

  4. Senior says:

    Well, to be positive, I would say that my communications with AXIA have proved to be very constructive. Now if only I could get through to people F2F with such ease. And in this day-&-age that often often is because they have been tuned out by too much thoughtless use of mobile technology. Ironic, really!

  5. Peter Johnson says:

    Hello Carly,

    My experience is that communication is extraordinarily difficult and complex with the very large subconscious element by definition not readily accessible and therefore not open to immediate evaluation.

    Couple this with the near impossibility of reasoning with the average Neuro Typical; I often think of the words of wisdom in one of the books I borrowed from you,(I paraphrase according to my understanding) that the 99 per cent act as though they are functionally insane most of the time, and why should a person who thinks along the lines of ASD expect sense from them?

    I think that this insight is helpful.

  6. Helen says:

    Hi Carly,
    From a somewhat simple aspect, regarding communication. It is a strangely personal thing ( i.e., I completely hate having to use the telephone. I’m happy with emails, texts, meeting in person etc.
    And when one does meet in person, it is exactly all the things you listed, tiny little details – the way a person stands, their eye contact, body language……. are they listening!
    As Senior said, so many NT’s do not have the ability ( or the will) to listen to a neurodiverse individual.
    Many of my “friends” take on a look of extreme annoyance the moment I try to speak, which kills my conversation before it has got started.
    There is a lack of patience.
    On a similar but different note, it is very sadly the case in the elderly. I’ve seen so many times when a “care worker” asks a question of a frail/elderly lady or gentleman and does not have the grace, good manners and patience to wait whilst thoughts are gathered and a response can be given.
    I have digressed.
    Communication is like a jigsaw puzzle, and every little piece, in whatever way it is given, adds up to a better view of the overall picture.
    I think 🙂
    Kindest regards as always.

  7. Senior says:

    Helen has reminded me of a struggle I’ve been having with communication today. Out of the blue my UK bank want me to provide them with more documentary evidence to show that I’m not a money launderer or international terrorist. I live far abroad, and the mechanisms they provide for verification are hitech but very glitchy and also rather impractical in a second world environment.I eventually sussed that secure email might eventually solve the problem – but fingers will have to be crossed for a few days. Now the bank’s favoured solution to such problems is the dreaded phoneline. I hate these because of long waiting, expensive calls, cut off lines and difficult accents. Yes, they try their hardest and are polite, but my ASD problem is listening in a noisy environment and getting almost to the point of meltdown when the issues get a bit complex. So, similar thoughts to Helen. Secure email is still better for solving complex issues. It allows you to ‘build’a strong argument.

  8. Senior says:

    It is for very similar reasons that I thoroughly approve of AXIA-ASD accompanying adult diagnostic interviews with a questionnaire.I found that allowed me to use the waiting time to assemble a useful set of answers in a typed document. Again, that seems to be all about building a strong and easily intelligible argument, which also gives the interviewer plenty to think about in framing his/her on- the-spot questions.

  9. Linda Buchan says:

    Thank you for your thought provoking comments

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