“It’s easy.” How many times have you heard this phrase? It’s often said with the kindest of intent, to reassure that the task set before us will be done quickly and with very little effort. And it’s usually used when one person is exhibiting some form of trepidation regarding the task. People do not usually say “It’s easy” when someone is eagerly forging ahead. I have observed that when someone is hesitating to complete a task, it is because they have already determined that the task is challenging for them in some way. Telling a person that a task is easily done when their perception is that the task is difficult, merely causes distress. A number of negative thoughts can creep into the person’s mind, thoughts like “I must be stupid.” or “why can’t I do this if it’s so easy for everyone else?” A person with good communication skills may snap back, “Well it’s not easy for me!” to protect themselves from the negative thoughts. However, if communication is challenging, it may be difficult to push away these thoughts. Add a touch of perfectionism and “it’s easy” has started a full-fledged berating of self for inadequacies.
Can you see the extra dangers in using the phrase with people who have ASD? For someone with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism “It’s easy” very quickly becomes a phrase of judgment, rather than encouragement. Let’s find a better way to encourage each other. Perhaps simply listening to the explanation of the challenge is support enough. Often when people explain their difficulty they come up with their own solution. And isn’t that the best way to empower someone?
Rebecca J. Weaver is a Certified Autism Specialist at Independent with Autism, working to empower individuals with ASD. Need help creating your success strategies? Check out IndependentwithAutism.com for more information.