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why do autistic people talk to themselves

Understanding Why Autistic People Talk to Themselves

If you know an individual with autism spectrum disorder, you may have noticed that they engage in self-talking behaviours from time to time. You might be wondering why do autistic people talk to themselves? In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this behaviour.

By understanding the communication challenges and sensory processing differences that occur in autism, we can gain insight into why self-talking behaviours may be prevalent in the autism community.

In the next sections, we will explore these topics in more detail, looking at strategies for supporting verbal communication in autism, social communication difficulties, nonverbal communication skills, and self-stimulatory behaviours.

Communication Challenges in Autism Spectrum Disorder

If you are an autistic individual, communicating with others may pose significant challenges. These difficulties revolve around verbal and nonverbal communication skills, as well as social communication.

Verbal communication can be problematic, and you may struggle with language delay, speak in a monotone or repetitive way, or have difficulties with word choice and meaning. However, there are strategies that can support your verbal communication skills, such as using visual aids or communication devices that can help you express your thoughts and feelings.

On the other hand, social communication difficulties can also be a hindrance. You may struggle to initiate and maintain social interactions and have difficulty understanding nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. But by practising social scenarios and learning to interpret nonverbal cues, you can improve your social communication skills.

Sensory Processing and Self-Talk in Autism

If you or someone you know has autism, you may have noticed self-talking behaviours. It’s important to understand why this happens, and sensory processing plays a significant role.

Many autistic individuals experience sensory sensitivities or differences in sensory processing. Noises, lights, or textures that may not bother others can be overwhelming for those with autism. As a result, self-talking can be a way of self-soothing to regulate the sensory experience.

There are many self-soothing techniques that individuals with autism may employ, including self-talk. By using repetitive language or phrases, they help themselves feel more in control of their surroundings and emotions.

It’s essential to remember that self-talking is not a negative behaviour, and it can serve a beneficial purpose for those with autism. It’s a way for them to cope with sensory overload and regulate their emotions. However, it’s important to address the underlying sensory and communication challenges to help individuals with autism lead fulfilling lives.

Nonverbal Communication Skills and Repetitive Behaviours in Autism

Nonverbal communication skills are a significant challenge for individuals on the autism spectrum. The inability to understand nonverbal cues can lead to difficulties in social interaction and can cause frustration and anxiety. This frustration and anxiety may lead to the use of repetitive behaviours, including self-talking.

Echolalia, the repetition of words or phrases, is a common repetitive behaviour among people with autism. It can serve as a means of communication, but it can also be a self-stimulatory behaviour used to regulate sensory input.

Self-stimulatory behaviours, or “stimming,” are repetitive behaviours that individuals with autism engage in to regulate their sensory experiences. Some self-stimulatory behaviours, such as rocking or hand-flapping, may involve self-talking. These behaviours can provide a sense of comfort and regulation for individuals with autism.

Nonverbal Communication Skills Repetitive Behaviours
Difficulty understanding nonverbal cues Echolalia
Challenges with body language and facial expressions Self-stimulatory behaviour’s
Difficulty interpreting tone of voice Self-talking

It is important to understand that these repetitive behaviours, including self-talking, serve a purpose for individuals with autism. They provide a sense of control and comfort in an overwhelming sensory environment.

By supporting the development of nonverbal communication skills and alternative coping strategies, we can help individuals with autism regulate their sensory experiences and reduce their reliance on self-talking and other self-stimulatory behaviours. Empathy and understanding can go a long way in assisting individuals with autism in navigating their unique sensory experiences.


Understanding why autistic individuals talk to themselves is crucial for promoting empathy and support towards the autistic community. Through exploring the communication challenges, sensory processing, and nonverbal communication skills in autism, we can gain insight into why self-talking behaviours may occur and how they serve as a means of self-regulation and self-soothing.

It is important to recognise that self-talking is a valid form of communication for individuals on the autism spectrum and should not be discouraged or stigmatised. Supporting verbal and nonverbal communication skills, as well as providing opportunities for sensory regulation and self-soothing, can reduce the reliance on self-talking and enhance overall communication abilities.

By embracing a more inclusive and accepting attitude towards self-talk and other autistic behaviours, we can create a more inclusive society that celebrates diversity and difference.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do autistic people talk to themselves?

Autistic individuals engage in self-talking behaviours for various reasons. It can serve as a way to communicate and express their thoughts or emotions, especially when facing challenges with verbal or nonverbal communication. Self-talk can also help them regulate their sensory experiences and provide a sense of comfort and self-soothing.

What communication challenges do individuals with autism spectrum disorder face?

Autism spectrum disorder can present difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication. Some individuals may struggle with language development, find it challenging to initiate or maintain conversations, or have difficulties understanding social cues. These communication challenges can contribute to the use of self-talking as a means of expression and communication.

How does sensory processing relate to self-talk in autism?

Sensory processing differences are often observed in individuals with autism. They may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to certain sensory stimuli, such as sounds, textures, or smells. Engaging in self-talk can help autistic individuals regulate their sensory experiences and cope with sensory overload or under stimulation. It serves as a self-soothing technique to manage sensory sensitivities.

Do nonverbal communication skills play a role in self-talking behaviours?

Yes, nonverbal communication skills can impact self-talking in autism. Some individuals with autism may rely on echolalia, which is the repetition of words or phrases they have heard, as a means of communication. Self-stimulatory behaviours, such as repetitive movements or actions, may also involve self-talking. Difficulties in nonverbal communication can contribute to the use of self-talking as a form of expression.

What is the importance of understanding why autistic people talk to themselves?

Understanding the reasons behind self-talking in autism is crucial for fostering empathy and providing support to the autistic community. By recognizing the communication challenges, sensory processing differences, and the role of nonverbal communication skills, we can create a more inclusive and understanding environment for individuals on the autism spectrum.

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