There’s something that apparently we autistic people do that other people don’t do? Can’t do? Not sure. And that’s communicating about how we’re communicating.

Like, establishing needs and preferences for how we best communicate, or stepping back from a conversation to discuss the conversation from a more general, higher perspective or vantage point. Such as putting down the topic of discussion for a moment to talk about tone, emotions, additional context of the topic, etc.

My family does this all the time and I think I’ve done it for many, many years. Perhaps my whole life? I find it eliminates a lot of hurt feelings and confusion. And it allows for a much more productive conversation once you dive back in or going forward.

But when the person you’re talking to is unable or unwilling to participate in this kind of metacommunication, productive communication doesn’t seem to be possible. See, it’s not just up to us autistic people to change our ways to accommodate neurotypical communication. It’s also the job of the neurotypical to also accommodate us some of the time.

But it’s not just an autistic/non-autistic thing, either. I’ve had plenty of conversations with other autistic people—ones who are not at all self-aware about themselves or how they affect others—who refuse to communicate about communicating. It usually ends up with them being defensive and aggressive. I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime, thank you very much, so I don’t allow people like that to stick around in my life anymore.

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