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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StarlitTardis

Any other autistic learners?

Hello! I'm sure there are other autistic people here, since this site has so many learners and autistic people aren't that rare. But it would be nice to actually find members of my community on here.

Please only respond if you are actually autistic. No offence meant to allistic (non-autistic) people; I just don't want to get my hopes up about autistic people responding only to see loads of "Well, I'm not autistic, but I know someone who is." comments. I really want to find #ActuallyAutistic people.

I'd like to discuss our experiences with language learning, so here are some random questions to get us started. You don't have to answer them; you can talk about anything. They're just for if you can't think of anything to say.

1) Do you have any extra advantages / challenges when learning that allistic people don't have? How do you use the advantages and work on the challenges?

2) What methods do you use for learning languages?

3) Do you know of any forums, groups, etc specifically for autistic learners?

4) Do you find some languages or cultures more autistic-friendly than others?

5) Have any of you created your own languages? What motivated you to do it?

Feel free to talk about anything else that relates to being autistic and learning languages. I feel a bit isolated from my community since I started using social media less, so I'd really like to get some conversations going between us.

April 25, 2019

21 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ArchedCory

I am autistic (well, Aspergers)

I have always loved languages and was usually good at them. I analyze them to the core and like to have strict rules to follow (I LOVE rules!), which means I prefer logic languages like Finnish (get the course up, please!) and am not a huge fan of those with loads of exceptions (like French...) I got a degree in Maths, so maybe that explains why I approach languages also in a very mathematical way.

I am often in Sweden because I have good friends there. And people are very open-minded there about autism. But I am from Austria and it's pretty ok here too. :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StarlitTardis

I really like logical, regular languages too! People usually don't understand why I find languages with lots of irregularities annoying, and think I'm just being pedantic / dramatic. But it's really frustrating to me, because irregularities seem so pointless and unnecessarily complicating. I also really like analysing languages, which is probably part of why I like creating them too. I enjoy learning about all the different parts of language and seeing a language as a sort of structure. It's so good to find someone else who approaches language in a similar way to me!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mayishi

I suppose my tendency to hyperfocus on a language gives me an advantage. It usually results in other parts of my life suffering so it's also a challenge. I try to set limits for myself so I don't end up spending 16 hours a day studying.

I find eye contact and basic small talk extremely difficult so practicing languages face-to-face is a problem for me. I've tried Skype calls several times and it has never gone super well. I spend a lot of time reading and writing and listening. I talk to myself in my target language A LOT.

I've been creating languages for almost 18 years now. I find it extremely useful because my primary constructed language is fully functional and structured in a way that better reflects how my mind processes information (in terms of word order especially) than even my native language.

As for autistic-friendly cultures I agree with some of the other posts that Japanese culture is structured in a way that I find quite easy to function in. I don't know about specific attitudes of the Japanese but in comparison to Latin America where everyone is touching you I am at home in a culture that isn't too excited by public displays of affection or staring into the eyes of strangers.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StarlitTardis

I hyperfocus sometimes too. Languages / linguistics can be almost a special interest for me. I also have the issue of studying for too long sometimes. I either struggle to study at all, or I get way too into it and study for ages while neglecting other things. Frustrating!

Yep, eye contact is similar to sensory overload for me. It just feels too much, you know? And small talk seems like such a pointless waste of time. So like you, I spend more time reading / writing / listening. I didn't think of talking to myself in my target language though - thanks for the idea!

Wow, that's such a long time! I think I've been creating languages for about a decade, on and off. Again, I'm similar to you here. My primary conlang is structured in a way that reflects my brain. It also has no irregularities, so all the rules (e.g. how past tense is conjugated) apply evenly, without exceptions.

I don't know much about Japanese culture; this makes me want to learn about it. Yeah, I really dislike physical contact with people I don't know well, so I'm really reluctant to go anywhere that's the norm. When strangers hug me I just wish I could spray them with some kind of human repellent.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SeaLiteral

1 and 2) I have Asperger's syndrome and I think the main thing I do differently than allists is I check sentence discussions whenever I see the English version of a sentence is something like "are you a dragon?" or "eat a mug". Just in case they mean something unusual I wasn't aware of.

I'm not quite sure to which extent this happens to allistic people, but I find words easier to remember if they're similar to words in other languages I speak. Like tsuki in Japanese and suka in Indonesian. And Zucker in German, but that one means sugar (the others mean "likes").

And when I realize there's a word I often forget, I write it down so I can practice it offline. I've mostly done that for Japanese, because typing the characters doesn't really help me remember their shapes, whereas writing them on paper does.

I prefer languages with audio so I can try and listen to sentences, then repeat them, then repeat them while listening at the same time.

3) I don't know about any groups for autistic language learners. But see my answer to question five.

4) I think Spain is better than Denmark in terms of prejudices. In Denmark people tend to underestimate what we can do.

But in Spain, finding some particular type of shop in a shopping mall might be harder than in Denmark, because in Denmark there are more signs telling you what is where. And also, in Spain, they're less likely to have information desks, meaning meaning you'll go into some shops asking where there are shops of some other types... And people might tell you they're in some particular place but when you get there you find out they've moved, or maybe don't even exist.

5) I've been playing with conlanging, but mostly making alphabets. Usually trying to make them easy to learn (b, d and g being p, t and k mirrored, for example) and using few pencil movements (so basically like shorthand).

Speaking of shorthand, I'm writing this very message in machine shorthand and getting it translated into normal English by the computer. I'm in a group of people who type that way, and it seems at least three people in the group are in the autism spectrum. And it does seem being in the group is related it being interested in languages.

As for using shorthand for the languages I'm learning, I generally avoid it since I want to make sure I learn the right spellings. And turning it on and off depending on which direction I'm translating in doesn't seem to work very well, but I've used it when practicing French and Welsh here, using phonetic briefs for English (and for words I knew that I knew well) and typing other words one character at a time.

Example of phonetic "briefs" for Welsh and French:

  • DWEE for "dw i"
  • DWEEN for "dw i'n"
  • WI for "oui"
  • SOM for "sommes". This one sometimes leads to me writing sommes in English when I mean some.
  • KMENT for "comment", this one is actually how I write the word comment in English, so I don't have to put it in the French dictionary if the English one is enabled.

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StarlitTardis

I check sentence discussions for things like that too! I worry that it might have some non-literal meaning that I don't understand. Languages often use metaphors, implications, etc, but I don't understand those all the time so I check to make sure I've got it right.

I can see why it would be easier to remember words if they're similar in multiple languages. It kinda makes it easier for me to remember them too, except that I usually end up remembering all the words but forgetting which one belongs to which language.

Yeah, I find writing helps more than typing too. Something about the act of my hand making the shapes while writing the words, makes it easier to remember.

I do the same thing with the audio! Listen, repeat, then repeat it at the same time as the audio. Saying it at the same time as the audio lets me hear if there's a difference between what I'm saying and what the audio is saying.

Wow, that stuff with the shops sounds frustrating. I think it's sensible to have things clearly signposted. It just makes it easier for everyone.

I want to create a kind of shorthand language at some point, though I haven't started yet. I think it's a really good idea, because as you said it can be easier to learn, and it's quick and efficient.

That's so cool! I'm not very technological, and I didn't know typing in machine shorthand and getting it translated was even possible. Thank you for teaching me something! I never even considered it for language learning, though I agree that it could be inconvenient if you're trying to learn the correct spellings.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IsakNygren1

I am.

  1. I don't have a natural talent for learning languages so I really struggle hard to learn.

  2. Mainly apps.

  3. No.

  4. Yes, I was surprised how autistic the Japanese culture and language is.

  5. No.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zyxwvutsrqpo

Yes, I was surprised how autistic the Japanese culture and language is.

Introverted is what you probably mean lol.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CalebBates14159

I don't know what category I would be placed, but I like to do the same things, the same way at the same time every day. I am very uncomfortable in social situations, so I avoid people I don't know and feel little compulsion to spend time with the people I do know. I saw a science fiction movie a couple of years ago that seemed to be speaking to me in particular. Aliens came to Earth speaking a new language. People tried to learn that language, and those that became proficient could communicate very deeply with the aliens - to the degree that present, past and future were contained in a single thought. I have hoped that I would find a language that would make me comfortable in the presence of others and with myself. No luck on that yet, but just maybe an alien will drop by and give me enlightenment. The mere act of studying languages though gives me comfort just by watching and listening to skilled communicators share ideas and feelings. Communication remains a spectator sport for me. I don't know if I will ever be proficient in any language, but communication is an art that I appreciate and admire.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mayishi

Routine is a big part of my life and therefore affects my language learning methods as well. I have poor reactions to things not going the way I have planned and will spend hours writing schedules, making check lists, and over-structuring things. It's something I'm no longer self-conscious about because it is the formula I have found to maintain a job, school, and mental stability.

I have always been fascinated by communication. I love learning about story telling, public speaking, managing teams, etc. It's all outside my comfort zone and I have tried and failed at all of these things but I understand the theory behind it very well. Language learning has always been a comfort when I am sad, angry, or overwhelmed. My mom often jokes that I am the only person she knows who does French verb drills to relax.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GoyangiJeon

안녕하세요! I am autistic(I have PDD NOS) as well and im learning Korean which is quite a difficult language. 1) Not that i can think of 2) Im using currently Duolingo Language Drops and Lingodeer and sometimes i'll pop my head on twitch to a Korean person that is streaming and practice. Its nerve wracking as i dont want to say the wrong thing but they are super nice and the ones ive talked to have been very understanding that im a beginner and seem to understand most of the time what i try to convey. 4) Im not really sure to be honest 5) Ohhhh this is an interesting question a LONG time ago I was fiddling around with that as at the time I was playing Final Fantasy X and there was a made up language. I havent fiddled since but it was fun at the time.


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