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Autistic people learning languages

Are there any autistic people learning languages? Learning languages are one of my special interests.

June 5, 2019



I am. I find it easier not so much because of the social part but because I'm a perfectionist. I don't want to say stuff wrong so I don't say anything. I'm hoping I can get to a point where I can read books in other languages about topics I love and then get so caught up talking about that stuff that I don't care about my possessive pronouns as much. :-)


And this is why I didn't speak until I was closer to two than to one, as an infant. My mum KNEW I could speak, she would hear me talking to my toys when I was alone. But as soon as I saw her (or anyone else) I would refuse to speak, probably because I didn't want to get it wrong (based on things I later said). And it's something that's accompanied me for the last 40 years, too. If I think I won't get it right, I'm far more reluctant (and very anxious) about trying it in front of other people.


Oh yes, many. DL is great because it allows people to learn a language...or many languages... without having to worry about social things.


This is a good point. I really like being able to learn a language without having to go to a class full of strangers or anything like that. It feels like less pressure, and I'm not going to get judged if I communicate very literally or in any other 'abnormal' ways.


And you don't have to worry about how fast you're learning a language compared to the others.


Yes. I tried to supplement duolingo with language classes last year. It was an abject failure because I felt so uncomfortable with the social role plays and felt as if I stuck out like a sore thumb. I just can't do social. I actually learned faster than everyone else but I felt uncomfortable about that too. While I managed to stick to it it was useful and I think it vastly improved my productive language but the failure to keep it up was a set back to my mental health. It was definitely not enjoyable. Similarly a duolingo event I went to was more like medicine than fun:( But that was as much about the venue being a noisy pub than anything else. I don't drink which also made me feel uncomfortable and out of place. They didn't even serve coffee:( I only drink water or coffee. I felt so awkward not having bought anything... I never go in pubs. The previous time was over twenty years ago.


Absolutely! Languages and linguistics have been a special interest of mine since I was about 8 years old. While my aversion to small-talk and the stress associated with most social interactions make it difficult to practice speaking, I use my language skills to read academic papers, novels, and the news. I eavesdrop on conversations in various languages at my job and keep count of how many languages I hear each day for fun. I also construct languages. My current research focus is Japanese Pragmatics.


You construct languages!! I suddenly feel proud of my autism.


Same regarding the aversion to small-talk and the stress. I also prefer reading to talking because of that.

I construct languages too! Do you do it just for a hobby, or is it for a book or something else? My main conlang is still in the early stages, and mostly for a hobby (though I intend to use what I learn from it to create languages for fantasy stories). It's definitely a more autistic language, in that it's more literal and precise, there are more terms for sensory experiences, etc. I find that English just doesn't have the words to convey a lot of autistic experiences well.


I'm making one I call Brevo! It's all about using the shortest distinct sounds and letter groupings from all available languages to get the idea across. Zahnfleisch is too long, but gums do nicely, and so forth. I'm always looking for the briefest words or phrases to connote meanings in an understandable way by writing and speaking. A Japanese character may mean a complex word or phrase, but saying the word may very well be quicker in another tongue. It's likely to never go anywhere, but I'm enjoying it!


Short words aren't always easier. Sometimes it is better to make longer words. I'm Dutch, and that is one thing I quite like about the language. Take for instance this word: Kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamhedenplan, meaning "preparation activities plan for a children's carnival procession". This is made up out of a lot of other words. If we take the word apart it would be "kinder carnavals optocht voorbereiding(s) werkzaamheden plan" Here "voorbereiding" is made up of the words "voor" and "bereiding", which mean "front" or "before", and "preparation" respecively. Yes, we have long words, but they're made up out of a combination of other words or grammar. I see you're level 5 in dutch, so you might be familiar with words ending in "heid" (bezigheid, buigbaarheid, vrijheid, gevaarlijkheid, apartheid, etc). And now that I've written it I also noticed that "buigbaarheid" is composed of 3 parts: "buig(en)", "-baar", and "-heid". "buigen" means "to bend". "-baar" indicates that something is caple of doing said thing. In this case, if something is "buigbaar" it means that it is capable of bending. And when we're talking about the "buigbaarheid", we're talking about how much something is capable of bending. This agglutination might make for long words, but since it is made up of common and simple parts it is easy to learn, recognize, and understand. This might be interesting for your language as well :D (edit: "-heid" doesn't exactly mean what I said. I know what it means, but I have no clue how to put it into words.)


Rinderkennzeichnungs- und Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.

It is the name of a real german law. Taste that!


I love it. I don't exactly know what it translates to with my limited knowledge of german though. But I do like this feature of germanic languages


That's cool! :)


I came up with another thing you might want to add (if you didn't already think about this). I really like the way the Japanese name each month. Januari = ichigatsu. Februari = nigatsu. March = sangatsu. April = shigatsu. etc. etc.

'gatsu' in Japanese translates to 'month'. And 'ichi' means 'one', 'ni' means 'two', 'san' means 'three', 'shi' means 'four', etc. So they're basically just saying 'onemonth', 'twomonth', 'threemonth', 'fourmonth', etc. This makes it easy to know the order of the month, and how long it would take until a certain date.


I don't like that, because English and other languages that use the Roman month names are ridiculous. So I always want to translate October into 8month, even though it's the 10th.


That's great. One of my special interests is also learning languages. Chinese is my favorite. I want to one day go to China to spread autism acceptance. I also made my own language. And BTW, I gave you 6 linglots. Have a good day ^_^




What does this say?


According to Google Translate: I do not like pragmatics. When Tokyo Metropolitan University was still in Yakumo. (So yeah, Google doesn't know either xD )


Looks like Google Translate just got the first part wrong: the adjective 懐かしい (なつかしい - natsukashii - dear, missed) is used to refer to dear memories of good times --> "Remembering fondly pragmatics. When ... "

According to a quick web search, the Yakumo campus was used until 1991.


I am Aspie.

I avoided forums for a long time and lately I started participating in the forums, it can be stressing for me to communicate with people even online, I have developed phobia of communicating with people because of my past negative experiences in communication.


I'm glad you're participating :) Good luck! I hope it goes well :)


I’m the same, aspie and have joined and left so many forums online because I didn’t feel like anyone listened to me or that I was even valued at all. I feel like I have poor social skills even online.


There were probably more people listening than you think. Most people just don't let you know that they've read whatever you've said.. (which is why I decided to reply)


Animiles, I second that!

baekayeon22, I read what you said and value it.

[deactivated user]

    Welcome to the forums! The good thing about them is that no one expects you to reply immediately, so you can take some alone time whenever you need to. Although most people act decently (or better) on here, there will always be some people who are going to give you a negative experience. Don’t feel obligated to pay attention to them. Conversing on a forum is a good start to overcoming your anxiety. Also, I hope that you will be able to have real-life conversations (relatively) soon without getting uncomfortable or anxious.


    I'm Aspie too! Glad you are here learning.


    Thank you everyone <3


    Same. Duolingo is the only internet forum I've communicated on in years, never mind socialising IRL (except with one friend who's also autistic), and TBH even that's mostly because it got to the point I was worried I'd get to an even further point where I'd lose the ability to communicate with the outside world. So you're not alone :)


    you said that very well


    Yup, I am autistic and have a big interest in languages.I am currently learning French daily because I want it to be my third language.


    so are you, you cool too


    Holy crap! I 600 linglots? I didn't think i'd get this much attention! Overnight I got new freinds! Thank you.


    I am. I have always been interested in languages but the school system in my country is not very good at teaching languages (except English).


    Schools here don't teach English because we already know it.


    Strange. Where is this? Here in America we had to take mandatory English classes about grammar, and cursive, and such. In fact, I didn't have the ability to take a class in a different language until high school, so like age fourteen, and even then it was just Spanish or French. I did go to Catholic school though.


    Hey, while I'm not technically diagnosed, I believe myself to be on the autism spectrum, and operate under the assumption I am. I've hand flapped since childhood (though only when I'm not in public now, as I was taught not to do it. I just kind of ended up spending more time alone after. Being in public makes me feel uncomfortable because I can't stim, even though I really want to.), have obsessive interests, etc. I saw a therapist specializing in autism and she said, "I can see why you would think you're autistic." I missed a session though and got too anxious about going back after. My husband is diagnosed on the spectrum as well, and has more social impairment than I do.

    Sorry, for the long disclaimer before delving into language learning conversation, but when I first told an autistic friend about my hand flapping when they explained autism to me, they got mad, because they thought I was like trying to steal their identity, and kind of turned everyone in our group of friends against me, so I'm very careful to describe my exact situation, without being able to make the definitive claim that "I am autistic" (despite being quite certain I am.)

    Ironically, when I met this friend, I had started trying to learn French on Duolingo. They knew French, and I got really into it, and tried to talk to them about it, but they kept constantly getting mad at me, because my pronunciation was bad, or I didn't know enough. I had only been learning for a few weeks and ended up giving it up until recently. This was like 2012 I think.

    But yeah, French has really become a special interest for me. I used to be really into online collectible card games. I'd fall asleep trying to list all kinds of different cards, think about it at work, etc. I decided to try to see if I could channel my special interest powers into something productive instead, as I felt I could probably enjoy something productive just as well if I focused on it.

    It worked, sometimes my interest fades a bit for some show or game I'm partaking in with my husband, but if I keep with it, it keeps coming back as strong as ever. I conjugate words in bed. I practice things to say in French at work. I annoy people in life by saying things in French they don't understand just to tell them what I said in English. I love it. I love the spelling. I love the intense satisfaction I get from understanding 1/5 of the sentences in some French ASMR video I'm watching as I relax for bed.

    Sorry about writing a novel here. I don't know that I have anything to say that's actually of interest to anyone else. I just wanted to share.

    Edited for general improvement and the sake of being even more verbose.


    Don't worry about having a piece of paper confirming that you are on the spectrum. I have one and it hasn't made the slightest bit of difference. I had known I had it for about fifteen years by the time I got the diagnosis. Everyone on the spectrum is different, we are all individual people first. It is rampant in my family but none of us are like each other let alone like some random stranger who also happens to be on the spectrum. Just because someone has the official diagnosis and you don't doesn't mean they can tell you that your version isn't legitimate.

    But I am always interested to read about others' experiences, particularly as I find talking to people so incredibly difficult.


    Thanks. Yeah, I don't care too much about it, because I don't feel I experience significant impairment or anything. I really just struggle with things like making phone calls, paying bills, doing chores, organization, etc., but I can generally pass as neurotypical in a conversation or at work I think.

    Really, the only reason I care is because I love meeting and talking to other autistic people. The different way I think is really at the core of my identity, but I'm always scared I'm going to offend someone again. That's just why I'm more comfortable stating definitively accurate claims like, "I believe I'm autistic." I know that statement is true.

    The weird thing is, I still think a lot about how fun it would be to talk to that old friend about autism and French, but I know that would probably just make them think I'm trying to be like them or something weird like that. Sorry if it's like weird that I'm sharing this on here.


    I know exactly what you mean. Accuracy is very important for me too which is why I hate small talk so much I think. You get asked how you are and they don't usually actually care and I don't want to actually think about how I feel as I need to concentrate on positive subjects in order to function but I am not happy with giving a glossy inaccurate answer. When I do answer inaccurately I end up frowning at people and feeling bad about it for hours. But when I answer accurately they come up with stupid suggestions designed to make me feel better that do the opposite. Why can't people just get on with things?


    OHHH I feel very much the same way. I'm slowly learning that small talk (though it seems meaningless) can help me tune into the energy of the other person, but its quite subtle. I would rather be more direct and concrete but it seems that small talk can help me start to connect on an invisible level so I can be more direct later. I think it might be helpful but I'm still not comfortable with it. And I SO, SO value authenticity and directness.


    Bookrabbit waves enthusiastically hello!

    When I was in uni, I learned from one of my sociology classes that small talk like "how are you" etc. can be something called an "acknowledgement ritual". This helped me. With my friends, I can still go into detail about how I am doing and they will often reciprocate and the information can be useful. But, if I don't know someone, I try to remember it is just a ritual that has more generalized social cohesion functions. They are on a search for information, but likely not specifically how I'm doing at that moment or in a specific span of time. If I remember that, I can stifle the impulse to say too much.

    If they are enacting the ritual, they just want to know that I'm not avoiding them, that I'm willing to smile or nod. They can possibly pick up information from that: am I likely to be a threat? What is their general standing with me or potentially people in my demographic? (Engaging doesn't guarantee accuracy. Sometimes horrible people are very smoothly social and want to put people at ease. But, many people still find the ritual comforting.)

    The more confusing part for me is that the ritual as well as whether to engaging it or not and how can differ from community to community. For example, if someone doesn't ask me how I am but is on a course to walk by me, that could warrant a short ritual of nodding between us and possibly smiling. We might engage in eye contact or avoid it. The enactment can be read differently depending on how the person starting it is read by the person they acknowledge. I'm in the LGBTQIA+ community (edit: forgot to finish that thought. Some studies indicate that there is more ritual enactment among minorities.) However, despite being mixed-race I'm also always read as white. So, my nodding and smiling could be received with confusion or suspicion because white people can be polite but still engage in racist acts. But, if I don't engage the ritual, it could be read various ways, some of which make me feel self-conscious. So, I've opted just to engage by nodding and smiling while looking down unless someone tells me to do differently. :P

    I've been fixated on understanding human interaction my whole life. I think that is complicating things with diagnostic stuff. Autistic people I've met regularly assume I'm on the spectrum. Non-autistic people I've met assume that I'm not. My therapist is not sure what to think. :P


    Yeah, I feel like people sometimes look kind of uncomfortable when I answer how I am honestly. A few months ago, one of my ferrets died, and I wasn't going to lie and pretend like I was fine. If you ask me a question, I'm going to answer it. I don't really care about trying to fit in in ways like that.

    I'm not going to lie, your posts seem to indicate autism to me, but that's not really something that should be determined over a few posts in a thread. Plus, you already said most autistic people think you are autistic, so I'm not really saying anything new.


    Usagiboy, there has been a couple of times on the forum in which I was left wondering if you were on the spectrum or not.. often I can tell when people are but you are not clear.



    I'm really sorry your ferret died. I live with two cats. If one of them died, I wouldn't be ok. :(

    My journey with my therapist isn't simply, yes/no autism. It is yes/no/other/and. The better my therapist and I understand what's shaping my experience as a person, the more efficiently I can locate resources towards my survival and well-being.

    Being able to learn how people perceived me and why before I engaged this discussion could help that. That's why I'm curious about the details of people's prior perception.


    I had to giggle at your response - in a totally positive way. :) You sound an awful lot like me (I didn't discover my autism until my late 20s). There are a lot of us - especially women - who never got diagnosed as kids because we're not "severe" enough (I hate that word in this context, simply because just because our issues aren't as overt as some people's, it doesn't mean our day to day life is any less difficult and we don't need just as much help, it's just DIFFERENT help). Women especially tend to present very differently from boys, and the diagnostic criteria are very biased towards typically male presentation. But reading your comment, I saw a lot of things I identify with and it made me smile - so thank you. :)


    Well, I'm glad someone appreciated it. I had hoped some might find it relatable. Autism was itself a special interest of mine for a while when I first discovered I was on the spectrum, so I'm well aware of the gender differences. I and most of the friends I've made as an adult are both trans and autistic, and I'm interested in the positive correlation between the two. I wonder if there is some connection between being a trans woman, and being an "actor" subtype, as many cis women are.


    Laurynn.. People who are aspies are not as compelled to stick with the social norms so more likely to come out as being trans etc. So hence why you may see more of them as they wont be so hidden in the closet with these things.


    I mean, I think that's a factor, but it seems too significant to me for that to be the only cause. In reality, it's likely a complicated mix of one influencing the other, vice versa, and unforeseen other variables. I wish I had finished my psychology degree, before I dropped out, and disappeared off the face of the Earth. Then I'd actually be able to research stuff like this.


    LaurynnSnow your post is very aspie and you are coming across as probably being aspie to me.. some of us apsies do very long posts and struggle to stick to the point.


    Yes, I'm well aware. I'm not a concise person. However, I'll end up rereading posts like the one in question over and over, looking for necessary edits, and it doesn't seem like there are any sentences in it that don't contribute to the overall message I'm trying to communicate. I don't see any information in it that doesn't seem essential to me, as the "storyteller." I enjoy fiction writing as a hobby, so when I write, I do try to leave only information that's "essential," but I for the life of me don't understand how other posters manage to keep their posts so concise.

    I don't identify with the label "aspie," generally, because Asperger's Syndrome" was reclassified as Autism Spectrum Disorder: Type I in the DSM V. So, again, that's another thing I tend to just explain as a disclaimer when I talk to people about being autistic. I explain that while it was reclassified, under the previous classification I would have been considered as having Asperger's Syndrome, in case that helps explain it to them better. I worry people will think I'm trying to like paint myself as someone looking for pity or something, when really I'm just trying to say, "I already know I'm kinda awkward. This is why."


    Yes, I am on the spectrum. Language learning has been my special interest for the last five years. And when I do something I take it to extremes. I have been completely immersed in it for the last five years. I may not be very good at life but learning I can do. And I don't mean memorization but pattern recognition. I am not doing this for the points or the lingots. I really want to understand people one day.


    I see that you're interested in learning languages. your list of languages is almost longer than your comment, which is quite the achievement :D


    Yup. I am. When I went to high school (The high school equivalent in my country) I was most excited about learning French. But after a couple of months I didn't like it because I was forced to learn it and it all went too quickly. I was really relieved when I could finally drop it after 3 years (plus another year since I had to do the 3rd year twice due to my low grades). Over 5 years later I became conscious that I had an interest in languages. More time went by, and a friend of mine got me into anime. I already knew a couple of things about Japanese, but this exposure to the language was enough motivation to start learning the language. This also made me more interested in anime, which made me more interested in the language, etc, etc. A nice loop where my interest in both things gets infinitely amplified :D


    I'm learning Japanese because one of my special interests is Anime. I want to watch it in its original form. :)


    I have zero interest in anime, K-Pop, but manga, but I defend DL users' rights to discuss their interests/motivators in SEPARATE forums/fora.

    Just today, a Francophone of my acquaintance (and vintage) had me singing 小椋佳 in the van.


    Japanese lyrics


    Hi, I got the language learning bug with Esperanto (without which I might have given up already as I have many other problems) and I tend to jump between languages too much and have focus problems etc., but I would say I am going forwards slowly, but surely.

    I am currently trying the 52/17 method in hopes I got at least one hour of learning done a day.


    52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest. Some journalists who tried it, said it did increase their productivity.


    Sorry, I am having a bit of email chaos (which isn't helped by this thread), but that's it. However I changed to 50/10 which was recommended by someone for programmers as the 17 feels a bit too long for meditating.


    that sounds intriguing. I may have to try that formula! thanks for explaining


    I'm autistic but duolingo is more useful to me in setting schedules because I have a lot of executive dysfunction and struggle with not dropping interests. Yeah there's the social aspect but I already have close friends who I meet up with one-to-one which is something I don't really struggle with much. Plenty of alone time, and my friends are more active online than in person anyway and are generally also neurodivergent. If you love learning languages as a special interest that's awesome. ^^ I partly want to move onto Cantonese after starting on Mandarin so I can show my friend who speaks it though, and use the German exercises to work on my grammar in my second language.


    I don´t know if I am or not, but I´m introspective and very interested about languages.


    If you think you have an ASD (autism spectrum disorder), then I'd highly advice you to get it checked. I got diagnosed, and it was a big help in understanding my behaviour and accepting my limits. I don't often tell people about it. I do it only when I want the other person to be aware of why I do things, why I don't do things, or why it should be better for me to do( or not to do) things.


    If you think you might be autistic, I highly recommend reading about it and following as many autistic people online (e.g. on social media) as possible. Right now, some of the ones I remember are Agony Autie, Autistic Not Weird, Autistic Hoya, Beth Wilson (artist), Am I In Your Way, Yenn Purkis (sometimes Jeanette Purkis), Amy Sequenzia, Annie Segarra (sometimes Annie Elainey), and Autistic Bride. I know there are lots of others, but I don't remember them all.

    If you search (on Google, blog sites, social media sites, etc) for the hashtags #ActuallyAutistic and #AskingAutistics, that should also lead you to find more autistic people, information about us, etc.

    Reading what autistic people were saying was how I realised that I'm autistic (I got officially diagnosed later). I spent about a year doing a lot of research into the science but especially into how autistic people described their experiences (e.g. meltdowns, sensory overload, the way their thought processes work, etc) and I related to so, so much of it that it seemed like it couldn't be coincidence. And thankfully, I managed to find a helpful GP to refer me for a diagnosis.


    There's a wonderful Terry Gross "Fresh Air interview" (NPR) with Tim Page, a Pulitzer-prize winning music critic at the Washington Post and now professor of journalism at University of Southern California about his autism. He wasn't diagnosed until he was 45 years old.



    I didn't discover I was autistic until late in my 20s. There also wasn't anywhere near to the support network that is available now to people being diagnosed later (though it still needs improvement). But finding out I was autistic made everything suddenly make so much more sense. If you genuinely believe that you might be autistic, it is absolutely worth getting assessed. If nothing else, it can be helpful in making sense of all that stuff that you haven't "got" for years (especially social and sensory issues). For me, personally, I found it quite hard too - I wasn't in a good place mentally for a few months after I found out - but I quickly got to a point where I realised that I hadn't changed - I had always been this way and I'd already gone through school, university, got a degree, got a job, bought a house, got married, survived a divorce, bought another house and moved on with my life - and there was no reason I couldn't keep doing the things I wanted to, regardless of my autism. I just now had a better idea of how to manage certain aspects of my life more effectively, with as little stress as possible, as well as being able to explain to other people.


    I discovered it when I was about 20. I always had the feeling that I might have autism, but I knew I wasn't like those extreme cases we hear about on TV and the likes. At school someone gave a presentation about ADD, and I was like "wait, that is not supposed to be normal?", so I got it checked out, and got diagnosed. But at the same time they were researching the connection between ADD and ASD, so they gave me an extra survey related to ASD. The result was quite clear. And after I got the official diagnosis everything about me started to make sense. I even got to talk to people who were polar opposites of me and we still had many similar experiences when it comes to autism. This was also helpful to understand myself even better. Back to Esperantistabr; You don't have to tell anyone if you don't want them to know. But it will most likely make you able to understand yourself better if you know it for sure :)


    Thank you Animiles, Starlittardis and JABL-BCL. I tried to get the diagnosis at once, but the diagnosis was inconcluded. Nor yes, nor no. And so I gave up about the diagnosis.


    It might be helpful to know, if you are in USA, that the medical association changed the diagnosis book so that Asperger's is no longer allowed as a diagnosis. So if that might be the kind of brain you have, like me, then they will not tell you about it; since the new book doesn't allow it. Still after reading and going through symptom and characteristic lists, I know that is how I would have been diagnosed if I'd done it two year earlier. Thought you might like to know.


    Karuna.. the changes just mean that those of us who had Aspergers are no longer called this and now just labeled as being on the autism spectrum.

    The criteria are not hard to meet if one already was labeled Aspergers and previously met that criteria. It just means we all have to be reassessed in the new system of things.

    Note.. it is not just for the USA but most countries follow those guidelines which are used too there. They are a quite standard thing.. eg I'm in Australia and that applies here.


    Some people had certain aspects of Asperger's, and some aspects of classical autism. Therefore they couldn't be diagnosed with either of them, even though it was clear that they were autistic enough for some sort of diagnosis so that they could receive the help they needed. Therefore they've changed it in the DSM-V. Esperantistabr might be one of those people.


    there is diagnostic criteria which must be met so someone who knows what they are doing and how to diagnose should be able to give a yes or no. All people may carry one or two Austistic traits but only those meeting the guidelines can be deemed to have this.


    I'm on the spectrum of autism being that I have Asperger's and learning Japanese because I want to be more useful and also want to figure out how to carry out a conversation with others and try to understand what they are saying. I also have a feeling there are going to be some very insensitive people calling me a weeb soon just because of that, but that is a derogatory and negative term for someone wishing to learn a new language especially for japanese. I don't appreciate it.


    The definition of 'weeb' has changed over time. At first it was someone who was so into anime that they tried to become Japanese with complete disregard of their own culture as well as the Japanese culture. These days it's often used for everyone who is into anime. It's similar to being an otaku. I like anime myself, and sometimes I just joke about it towards those who call me a weeb, and sometimes I explain them why I'm not a weeb. If they are strangers in a game for example then I usually pretend to be a weeb. Whatever they say is based on a version of me that is not actually me. So I don't hear their stupid opinion about the real me. Either way, just know that it is a great achievement to be able to understand, speak, read, and/or write a language which isn't your native language. As long as you don't disregard your native language you have the right to be proud of it :D


    I have a mild form of autism and can have a hard time communicating at times. I’m currently learning Spanish and it’s a pretty cool language to me.


    I'm autistic and am learning Spanish and Welsh, with the aim of learning other languages in the future. I'd say language learning (and linguistics) is more of a regular interest for me, but it's on the borderline of being a special interest. On a related note, I'm also creating a language that is more suited to autistic experiences and our ways of communicating (e.g. literal, precise, lots more terms for sensory experiences, etc).

    I actually created a post looking for other autistic learners a while back: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/31884025 People brought up some interesting stuff in the comments.


    One of my hobbies is etymologies! I realized early on that so many other languages are so VERY interconnected, that I just had to start researching! I have a whole book shelf dedicated to word origins, and a whole book CASE for just foreign languages! I've only been looking at them in passing until the past few years, though. Between Wiktionary and this site, I have renewed vigor!


    Hey, have you connected with John McWhorter and his great lecture series on DVD or CD? I first found a set at the Library but now The Great Courses has several lecture sets by him. My favorite is "The Story of Human Language". Its fascinating about how all human languages are linked and came about.


    I'm autistic and I've always loved languages. I learnt French in school, and I like to study other languages when I have time. Sometimes if I'm bored and need a fun activity, I'll read about different grammatical systems, or write down vocabulary lists (Swadesh lists) for a language that I choose in the moment. I love it. I'm waiting for Finnish to be available on Duolingo - it's my favourite language in the world.


    I have Asperger's. The passion I've picked up for learning languages has pushed me to interact with others more (native speakers) so that I can test my skills and improve. :)


    Learning languages is one of my special interests too, though I hated it at school because of all the forced talking. Duolingo is such a good resource for learning at your own pace, however you would like to. One day I would like to have a Harry Potter book collection with each book in a different language, and I already have French, Dutch, Italian, and Spanish which I used to learn at school. Harry Potter is another special interest of mine, and I love that the two can overlap!


    Given the lingots, it appears there are many people with autism learning languages.


    Great question - plenty of positive replies , hopefully will it encourage more to join in !!! here's some more lingots !!


    I'm autistic myself (Asperger's Syndrome to be precise) and I'm currently learning German!!


    hello fellow Aspie :)


    I am autistic, i just got really interested in learning new languages just recently, due to the fact my grandparents who live in Ecuador came to visit us for a week or so!


    I very much enjoy learning new languages.


    so glad to see there are so many other autists here. :)

    Both languages and travelling to Northern Europe have always been my special interests. So here I am now. :)


    It doesn't metter if you're autistic or not as long as you want to learn, you can do it. maybe i'm not autistic, but i still proud you. keep fighting


    One line answer: Go for it!


    Me i am learning japanese it is so so fun


    I'm very high functioning. Because of that, I actually started doing Duolingo before I knew that I was Autistic. As it is, I've found Duolingo much easier than learning from a person might be, first of all because of the social fear that I have, and secondly because I'm naturally better at writing/reading than I am at speaking, like a lot of Autists.


    My therapist is currently looking into whether I might be on the spectrum or have ADHD or something. So, I can't say whether or not this post applies to me at this time. Regardless, I am really happy to see this discussion in the forums. ^_^


    Autism is often misdiagnosed as ADHD due to crossover symptoms, so it could be relatable to you either way.


    I have autism too. I don't have as much of a problem with communication (or at least not quite the kind a lot of other people here seem to have). I only found out I had autism a year ago, and it seems so subtle for me it hardly makes too much of a difference in my everyday life. I enjoy learning languages too, but I don't spend much time very often on Duolingo (mostly because I don't have access to computers most of the time). I like the idea of being able to speak or communicate in some secret way. I'm not too surprised that so many people on Duolingo have autism. I've noticed that most autistic people have one or more "special interests." Personally, I call mine "obsessions," and they usually seem to last for anywhere from a few hours to several weeks, or sometimes even months.


    I'm learning French because my autistic son is learning it.



    Awesome. That is really great. How is he doing with it, is he very verbal? I would love to have that opportunity.


    We got his autism diagnosis (which I hadn't recognized it as such; The social behaviours were hidden behind his inability to speak.) because of his extreme late verbal skills. At 3 and a half, he had 10 words and could not put two words together (ie. "more juice") until almost 4. He couldn't sing/hum a song until 4.5 years, and was almost 5 and a half when he could ask questions such as "why?".

    He is still behind his peers with communication, but right now he's just under average. There had been years when he simply wasn't on any of the charts.

    However, he loves the French language and his French friends and has taken to it quickly. He's quite motivated to learn it and we're crazy proud of him.

    Edited to add: I can't believe someone downvoted you for a simple question. I've upvoted to combat it somewhat.


    Thank you. That's very sweet.


    C'est génial! Le Français est une langue sublime


    J'aime apprendre le français.


    J'adore le français, sauf que les deux sexes sont très étranges pour moi en tant que transgenre. J'ai corrigè ceci avec "Google translate" si quelque chose est bizarre.


    Bonjour ! Pour moi, j'ai appris tous les mots avec les genres instantanément, donc si je veux apprendre un mot, je n'apprends pas "abeille" j'apprends "une abeille."

    Et en fait, je crois que beaucoup de français font ça aussi, une fois en parlant avec un français, quelq'un a dit "un abeille" et puis la personne française a dit, "c'est quoi un abeille ??" Il a pensé que "un abeille" était un autre mot/chose, bien que la personne voulait dire "une abeille."

    C'est intéressant.

    Désolé si mon français n'est pas très bien ;)



    The French word you're looking for is le genre.

    To paraphrase my on-line dictionary, grammatical gender has only tenuous connection to natural sexual distinctions. Most of the time, your only option is to memorize.

    Spanish hijo/hija pairs are rare exceptions. Somewhere I have a list of cases where Spanish has male/female meanings for the same word.


    I actually originally said "deux genres" but Google Translate sexes so I doubted myself and changed it.


    Have some lingots!!!!


    This made my day!! I'm wishing you all the success is the world!!!


    Yes, I'm learning French Spanish and Swedish, trying to do more Russian, too


    Like the infinity symbol. Autism acceptance worldwide!


    i have autism and i am enjoying touching up the languages i know (Spanish, German, French) and learning new ones!




    Esperanto at the moment in the hope of helping me with other ones, also trying to improve French and German.


    My brother, the one who introduced me to Duolingo went to school for a long time with a guy who had a brother who was Autistic and could read and write, and speak 9 languages. Something like, German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan, Swedish, Dutch, and Afrikaans


    Same. I'm autistic, and learning languages has always came really easy for me.


    Yes. My native language is Portuguese and I'd consider myself fluent in English by now (well, there are many sociolects and dialects I don't nail due to lack of exposure and material about learning them on the internet, but this is also true for even my own native language - deep metro São Paulo periphery slang, or some accents of European Portuguese). I don't think I will ever be fluent in Spanish simply because I find no material that focuses on the differences between Spanish and Portuguese.

    Now I'm being even more foolish and trying to get myself to do the same with Italian and French, which I find almost completely understandable when written. I fully understand Italian videos with French subtitles or vice-versa. I want to actually be able to write texts in either (as of now I can use Google Translate and now exactly how to handle the grammar), even though I'm sure I will commit many mistakes (as with when I try Spanish) but that would mostly pass. After all, there are many native speakers who mispell a lot, and I won't mispell more than they do.

    When I write in Spanish, my mistakes seem like those of a native speaker who was barely literate when they left a Spanish-speaking country as a child, but still spoke it in their daily lives, while mixing parts of it with some different language. Much of my mistake was learning English before I was done with Spanish, since Portuguese deleted a ton of superfluous etymological consonants (even Latinate forms), part of why you can speak very good Brazilian Portuguese with a thick Chinese, Korean or Japanese accent, while English kept the vast majority of them, and Spanish is an in-between state, but I learned English without really trying much to, it was just everywhere around me.

    Other than Italian, French, Catalan (though I dislike learning it from Spanish because I get at ease and then absently-minded use Portuguese forms where Spanish should go) and Esperanto, I don't really trust myself enough to learn a language entirely through the internet for free. But I decided to open a slot in my brain for the biggest number possible of languages in case I ever need to move somewhere new (with the climate change apocalypse scenarios and all, and also with Brazil's economy having gone downhill just as the younger Millennials like me were being inserted in the job market).


    As for my relationship with autism: I used to score 184 in the Ritvo scale in 2016-17, and now I score 157 (this relates to a personality improvement I discuss below); an autistic neuropsychologist who is also specialized in autism that I was seeing for 4 months said I'm not high-functioning enough to have Asperger's (since I'm 24 and still quite dependent on other adults for a plethora of situations), but it is mostly about my relationship with my body (executive dysfunction) and anxiety (be it in social situations, new environments or mundane responsibilities and tasks). I also have ADHD primarily inattentive, though he says I have inner hyperactivity (and indeed, my brain is LOUD).

    Before I spiritualized myself circa 2017-2019 (it's still a continuous process), I used to have traits of compensatory narcissistic personality disorder, but now even social media exchanges are leading to overwhelm a lot of times due to increased empathy. I feel when bad things happen to other people with a precedent, and had awful dreams or physical symptoms when people not very close to me were about to die. Those dreams, and also having visions of certain beings that research revealed to be ancient archetypes deified by some cultures, appeared after 3 years of studying astrology, and people in their mid-20s whose charts hit very specific points which mine also does also tend to have those experiences. Maybe that mask of dependence on other people's approval was just a mask for my excessive sensitivity, and also, when autistic people are only prized for being intelligent (since I was the type not to be called cool for other reasons), and have people who disagree about us on things we know deeply and keenly about (including our own bodies and minds), we could have a relatively normal dose of arrogance.

    Even so, I am ENTP in the MBTI and 5w4 in the Enneagram, and both of those seem tied with a level of intellectual narcissism, so once I read about the disorder in 2016, identifying with parts of it was a natural process. I used to have anxiety attacks when people unfriended or blocked me in Facebook, or when I was kicked or banned from a group. My neuropsychologist agreed with my self-diagnosis but in private he revealed to my mom that he disagreed with it, which is fair since in 2018 I was already pretty much almost over it. But it's not like things can't be terribly wrong and I might turn into a very absurd form of myself again. Even though I do believe in karma, and that karma hits you harder when you already have awareness of your responsibilities and power, so I would rather not do that, I am sure that any authority figure would not need to push me much in order to find my more choleric and interpersonally attritive side again. But the central part of the improvement is that, while before I went out of my way to seek attention and with that gain narcissistic supply, I now flee from a few specific types of attention. I am ok about debating and posting controversial things I really believe, but I really, really dislike in private conversations with almost everyone except a few friends. I get intense executive dysfunction because I feel the energy people put in the words they use and this can either get me hyper or feeling bad.

    I do have other comorbidities to autism and ADHD, such as impulse control disorder (which impairs me BIG TIME since I can't stop eating tasty things when I find them, even when I know not to), obsessive-compulsive disorder, either cyclothymia or atypical depression, anxiety, and I used to have maladaptive daydreaming, binge eating disorder (obsessive-compulsive about food waste; also unable to stop eating what was in front of me due to ICD), gender dysphoria (mostly between ages 12 and 19, and not really transexuality; I am nonbinary but this is... complicated) and until very, very recently insomnia (the truth is I have little control over my sleep rhythm, and this is characteristic of autism and ADHD; with the internet so vibrant, it's hard to resist the pull of it when you have ICD and thus lose track of how to keep up with the tune of the rest of the world).

    In general I do like being autistic, it just doesn't fit what the society around me considers treasurable, but almost anything that appeals to other Brazilians as ideal is boring, comformist or plain colonized mentality to me, and I have no particular desire to assimilate. When I read about other cultures, the ones that seem to have the most logical form of interpersonal treatment are Pacific Islander ones, and indeed, I had a dream with a mix of Freyja and Aphrodite (as a giantess) following me around in a Polynesian island, maybe I used to be one of them in a past life and Rio de Janeiro was meant as a transition from that sort of village life to megalopolises.

    I could really do without the impulse control thing, the executive dysfunction or the extremely sensitive sleep.


    It's not one of my special interests but I am on the autism spectrum.


    Ni hao! :D Greetings. Yes absolutely! I have recently started learning Japanese here because I love Japanese culture, art and food and learning new languages is also one of my special interests besides games, art and litterature and other stuff.. I speak Danish and English almost equally well since I went to an international school and the teaching was mainly in English. Most of the time I think in english and translate to danish when I "try" to communicate to other people since Danish language is somewhat limited compared to English. I also speak German and a bit of Spanish and a little bit of French. I feel an importance to be able to learn the most basics of languages so I can communicate and say hello to other people from all around the world. I also want to one day visit both China and Japan. I love Asian countries generally but I love most countries and cultures and their traditional foods, art litterature and religions, they are so beautiful and I consider a human heritage! I could go on for hours silly me anyway nice to meet you Will have a great day! ,-)


    And I just see that you are a trekkie too :D Qapla'!


    i am autistic and focusing on learning welsh right now. i get impulsive at times, so i try to replace the "bad" impulses (like spending my rent on goofy stuff) with "good" ones -- like learning a new language. surprisingly it's working so far!


    I am. Geography and languages are some of my special interests. Europe is my favourite continent which is why I focus on European languages.


    I'm on the spectrum, too. I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome about 7 years ago. I've always been into languages.


    Me! I love learning new languages especially since at my school everyone takes different languages and I feel slightly pressured to keep up as I am a huge perfectionist. I found it very hard to choose which two languages to study and Duolingo is helping me learn those which I didn't choose.

    Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.