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All people diagnosed with autism will have some degree of communication difficulty, including children and adults.  Like other differences in autistic people, these difficulties exist across a broad spectrum and each person will have a different profile of speech, language and communication skills.  

Some autistic people may be verbal (communicate with speech) or non verbal (communicate in ways other than speech).  Communication difficulties are not only the way the autistic person communicates with others; it also includes the way the autistic person understands and interprets others’ spoken words and unspoken messages.

The common areas of communication difficulty for individuals are:

Social Communication

The autistic person may:
- Repeat (echo) what people say (echolalia)
- Have difficulties understanding/using abstract language such as idioms (‘get your skates on’), sarcasm (well that was worthwhile!), abstract jokes.
- Take things literally
- Need extra time to process spoken information

Social Interaction

The autistic person may:
- Not seek and/or respond to attempts to interact with them, or may become distressed by this.  
- Become easily overwhelmed by interactions with other people.
- Want to interact with others, but be unsure of the ‘hidden rules’ e.g. when to speak/listen, taking turns, use of gesture/body language.  The person may also have difficulty interpreting these things in other people.  
- Actively interact with others but have difficulty with forming or maintaining friendships or relationships.