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How the masks made communication difficult for an autistic person. I mean me. However, that doesn’t mean someone else had the same problem.
A Run down
When the epidemic got bad, states issued a mask mandate that required people to wear a mask in places like a store or doctor’s offices, etc. The mask is great because we need to keep ourselves and others safe. It’s a major communication barrier for autistic people or hearing impaired folks etc. Autistic people most if not all of them, have auditory processing issues, as I like to call “audible dyslexia” Remember everyone experiences these things differently. Its possible I may have some rare issues but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I cannot state this as a fact since everyone is different. I just say Autistic people in general
my brain mixes the words I hear instead of what I am reading.
How did the mask complicate communication?
The mask muffles the person’s speech by it being so close to their mouth. Now imagine trying to make out what they’re saying with auditory processing issues or hearing impairment.
During COVID, eateries were closed for dining and had pickup, doordash, or the drive-through if the store had one. Pulling up to the speaker box and ordering was difficult. The audio already isn’t great. Now there is an added barrier. Cars revving their engines, sirens, etc added to the struggle.
Most folks who struggle to process speech rely on reading lips, which is impossible if the person is wearing a mask. Along with the poor audio the drive-thru has. When I go get my meds, I use the drive-thru to be contactless as possible. The quality is shit. The person wearing a mask and being too close to the mic makes the quality sound like it’s from 1918. I constantly have to ask them to repeat themselves. Asking someone to repeat themselves can get irritating for both parties.
having a device that can show you on a screen what the person is saying really would help. Or any other method to make communication easier. for those of us who struggle to process speech. Or a button to mash if you have hearing/communication difficulties so the person taking the order will know.
part of the reason I hate making phone calls is if I do not say anything for 3 seconds, they hang up.
Now you can say simply place the order on your phone and then when you arrive, you can usually let them know you’re there via the app or a text message. That is if the store has that option. I can use that for ordering fast food. If the store has that option. However, picking up my meds that option is not available. I have the most difficulty understanding them at the drive-thru getting my meds.
I can miss information about a med. Say one med is not covered by the insurance. Dude to the poor audio and the mask, I miss key info. I call the clinic and leave a message for the doc. The doc calls me and asks ‘well what did they say when you tried to get the script”? ” I could not make out what they were saying due to my auditory processing issues. due to the poor audio and they had a mask on I did not know what they were saying.”
Also, most of not all of us use facial expressions to read people. the mask may make that difficult. I think that’s why I didn’t pick up that the guy at the eatery was actually into me instead of just wanting to talk.
I just don’t believe in instantly falling for someone. I believe in connecting to them.
I am just saying if someone asks you to repeat be understanding that given the situation, communication is gonna be a tad difficult for people who read lips to somewhat decode what you’re saying or who struggle to process speech. Please be patient with us. And please, if they have to place an order over the phone, please do not hang up if they do not respond right away.
This blog post is not anti-mask or I am not trying to come off that way. I am just letting people know with the masks, it’s gonna be harder for those with communication difficulties and they need your patience and understanding.