Many people find email or text messages easier to process and manage than phone calls, let alone the dreaded video meeting. We asked autism advocate and blogger Actually Aspling, (via email!) to explain why she finds that phone calls can be anxiety-inducing but text-based communication creates less pressure:
“I'll be honest, 99.9% of the time I prefer text based communication methods, for example emails and text messages. That's because I find phone calls incredibly intimidating and scary. With a phone call it's difficult to understand intonation and work out the caller's intention. Most times I won't answer the phone and will reply with a 'please text me instead' message.
“A lot of the time I find it difficult to process verbal information, and sometimes I miss a lot of what's been said. Whereas with text I have the comfort to re-read and process the information. I also find that on the phone I stumble and forget what to say, I tend to freeze because of nerves and anxiety. However with email I'm able to spend extra time with wording, I can edit everything so that it makes sense; something I find really useful.
“Text messages/emails are also less confusing, because I don't have to try and decode someone's tone or expression, I can just read the message and reply. I don't have to worry about my own body language and expression either, because no one can see it, granted with phone calls you are virtually invisible, but I have to be careful with my tone.
“Sometimes though I do have to make phone calls, and even though I find it difficult I can physically do it, but the comedown afterwards can be challenging. I find phone calls make me incredibly anxious, so I'll be fidgety and hyper, and then afterwards I'll be extremely exhausted. People don't realise how much little things can tire me out, how the simplest tasks can lead to burn out.
“It's important to remember that communication style preferences can differ depending on person, but it's essential we respect people's choice. So send that email, or text, and hold off making the phone call if you can.”
Actually Aspling is run by Victoria Ellen who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 25 in 2017. You can find her Facebook page here and her Actually Aspling blog here.