John GreallyCo-Founder – Autistic News Feed1 article Following

#autisticsspeakTOO #multilingualism #interculturalcommunication #polymath #autisminclusivity #autisticnewsfeed #johngreally #neurodiversity #neurodivergency #autisticculture 04 June 2020 Version II


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Brief answer:

There is a probable phenotype of autism, poorly researched, of autistics who do find learning languages less challenging than most humans do. Even enjoy such learning. Thanks. Have a wonderful day 🙂

Long Long Answer:

There is a type of autistic more likely to end up a polyglot, able to learn and/or speak/write many languages with some extra ease, even a facile ease.

This is very important from the perspective of:

  • what they will find enjoyment in and self-fulfilment from
  • (read that again ^ as it’s so important!)
  • how to approach their autism to bring-out the very best from them
  • where their vocation or calling might eventually lie.

This type of autistic, at the extreme, includes for example the BBC’s “Smartest Person Alive”, the internationally celebrated hyperpolyglot synaesthetic savant autistic and leading author, Daniel Tammet FRSA, who came to wider world attention in front of a camera as he learned a very challenging language, the ‘torture’ known as Icelandic – in just two weeks, who invented a language in six months (“Mänti”), and who now makes a living from teaching others how to learn languages quickly and easily ( ).

Dr. Prof. Temple Grandin, autistic, has in writing referred to 3 broad types of Autistics, one of which is:

“Verbal Thinkers – those who like words and speech.”

The writer is also amongst that intra-phenotype somewhere too.

Note…. “Amongst”, not “Among”. And “Intra-phenotype”. 😉

Those born with precocious (early) speech skills, i.e. Hyperlexia, will more than ‘like’ words and speech – they may very well ‘love’ them…

  • words will be their source of pleasure, unusual words, word-sounds, echolalia, palilalia, lallolalia,
  • words may animate and define their lives, by the importance they attach to words, attachment to representations of words, accuracy, intonation
  • words may bring a sense of accomplishment, through writing/speaking, prose, poetry, word creativity,
  • words will likely become much fun, in the way of puns, acronyms, crosswords, sudoku, etc.,
  • words may be a focused self-interest, even big words – sesquipedalianism – choosing to use big-big words for self-esteem+OCD reasons,
  • words may lead to learning languages … and an intense inexplicable fascination whilst doing so
  • words may be seen as pictures, perhaps hieroglyphically – like old Egyptian, in the mind’s eye, or as a topography, a palette, etc.,
  • words may be seen as a collection, a hobby, on occasion with vocabularies stretching past 20,000 to 130,000 words even, not the typical 5,000 spoken by the average person, or the 10,000 by the average writer.

You may identify which autistics these ones are perhaps by their:

  • ability to mimic the sounds of other languages in short bursts
  • making-up their own language or codes or babble
  • cracking codes or seeing patterns in words or letters
  • love of phrases and verses – even sung ones – in other languages
  • desire to always make lists or accurately categorize/name things
  • memorizing things such as train timetables, soccer charts, aeroplane characteristics, licence plates
  • book reading, especially when others are not doing that!
  • willingness to hazard a guess how to pronounce a word or to say what a word might mean or where a word might have developed from
  • reduced ability with effective communication or pragmatic speech and a loathing for social chit-chat, also known as anti ‘phatic communication’
  • less reliance on word semantics, and more on shapes, or on words-as-symbols in order to more easily comprehend them
  • any atypical use of language, having a favourite-sounding word, etc.
  • verbosity … ‘too many’ words, flowing and sometimes flowery language,
  • sesquipedalianism, re: over-the-top word-size choice,
  • archaism – choosing less used or defunct words,
  • pedantry – a certain agony over word choice, a need for infinitesimal accuracy,

and of course…

  • spelling…. spelling ‘elephant’ before 2 years of age for example – from Autistics of this type come the vast majority of those who triumph at Spelling Bees, anywhere, any age.

It helps to identify this type of autistic early, very early, so you can really play to their strengths and help them learn other languages while at their most plastic stage of life.

When this type of autistic gets together, they tend to understand each other, they ‘click’ – not just by way of a unique commonality in language usage, but almost like they already knew each other before. Jaws may drop. But not the jaws of the autistics, who may seem puzzled why others who see this are surprised.

When the real experts (autistics!) tell you to

"work with autism, with autistics, work with THEIR grain creatively"

and not

"against autism, against autistics, against the grain in a bastardizing fashion"

like with autistically loathed ABA, cure-hunting, drugging, exorcisms… this is what they mean, same as for any non-autistic child… instead please accept, educate, nurture, talent-identify, enjoy, collaborate, love to maximise our lives, allow us to flourish our way, to head towards better lives, fulfillment, freedom, access, employment, purpose, light….

~ ʎllɐǝɹƃ uɥoɾ



TWITTER: @johngreally


Co-founder of [Facebook-based entities] :

  • The Autistic Cooperative TAC
  • Autism Inclusivity AI
  • Autistics Worldwide AW
  • Âûtistic News Feed ANF
  • ASAN (New Zealand Co-Chapter)
  • End Neurophobia
  • Âûtistic Union [ Âû ]
  • Âûtistic Spectrum New Zealand ASNZ
  • etc.

Former Autistic Advisor to New Zealand Government – ASD Implementation Group, ASD Expert Group, through NZ Government Guidelines Group and the Ministry of Health.

Further information:






Some newer words for Autistics:

Absquatulate – having an interior need to abruptly leave a social situation

Oppressured – experiencing a disabling bout of being oppressed by people, things, circumstances or systems to the point of being overwhelmed

Oculoreservation – reserving eye focus for mind-visualization instead of social contact

Manucadence – rythmic/ordered finger or hand stimming routines

Demandecremence – steps taken to reduce demands that impact significantly on coping

Neuroslight – insult a neurodiverse person by treating or speaking of them without equality and acceptance

Dominegating – using one’s social majority status to negate the expressed and actually-lived experience of a person in a minority

Exceptocognition – a facility for spotting exceptions in presented patterns and other data streams

Econofacio – economical use of facial expressions


John Greally

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