Lately I’ve noticed that my daughter with auditory processing disorder does not like to hang out with people who talk non-stop. When I asked her why she doesn’t enjoy the company of certain people, she explained that she feels it takes too much energy to have to listen to all that talk and never get to talk in return.
So not knowing the answers and wanting to understand my daughter, I took some time to notice how it feels and what I do when I encounter people who talk non-stop. These are the people who talk a lot, talk fast and usually talk loud. They are the ones who tend to monopolize a conversation and honestly I don’t think they do it to be unkind in any way; in fact, I think for some people, it might be a way they deal with their need to control a conversation.
I realized that what one has to do in the situation of trying to converse with someone who talks non-stop, is to jump in on the conversation when you notice a pause. Moreover, if you want to talk about a certain subject that has been brought up, you have to do this before the speaker moves on to another topic. Of course this all happens in fractions of seconds really, because you have to push your way in by speaking up quickly and loudly when the speaker takes the most miniscule of pauses that was probably just to take a breath. Personally, I don’t enjoy that kind of conversation, but I have learned to deal with it; I’ve learned the skills necessary to manage that interaction.
Then I had to think about how a person with auditory processing disorder would manage that interaction. Can my daughter process what is being said and what she wants to say quick enough to jump in to the tiniest of pauses and make it flow relevantly? If I find that difficult and tiring, how much more difficult and tiring is it for her?
Understandably, my daughter feels forever relegated to the realm of listener in those situations. She cannot process auditory input or output at a speed to be able to force a mutual conversation with a non-stop talker. Like probably all human beings, she needs to feel that her relationships and conversations are mutually respectful. For her, this means she needs her conversation partners to take a pause sometimes, to ask for her input, and to give her the space she needs to speak and feel heard.