A thought on emotional communication: We tell each other and our kids to let us know if they struggle or they have a problem. Hence if nothing is said, it is assumed everything is fine. Right?
One of the topics I frequently talk about is the developmental steps involved in ‘letting someone know’ if there is a problem.
Here’s the ‘potted version’:
Before anything can be said, the person needs to know something does not feel right.
They then need to work out where the ‘not right’ is located (within or outside of the self) and what it is. This is also known as interoception.
Next comes the social communication bit about alerting the right person who understands and responds to you.
After this step comes communication in any shape or form. But let’s face it, if you use behaviours that challenge, it makes it a lot harder to get the help that is needed.
Assuming you have got this far, that initial ‘letting someone know’ may require additional follow up communication and the process starts up again.
So here’s the thing that so many autistic people and their families know: Sometimes it is easier not to communicate that something is not right. And sometimes the person just hasn’t noticed something is not right. They may only notice when it is too late or on seeing you at home time, it triggers the “I am definitely not right!” response.
‘Not right’ then becomes a meltdown in public (if we are lucky) or internalised (in a worst case scenario).