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Info-dumping & boundaries – what’s a Neurodiversity Affirming approach?

by Adina Levy

Here’s a question that I was asked off the back of my post about generally seeing info-dumping as a positive thing:

“When I am truly over hearing about his special interest, or I have to do something else, what can I say? I don’t want to discourage him”

When info-dumping gets too much, it’s valid to set boundaries in place. Communication is all about relationships, and this necessarily involves negotiations and compromise. It’s rarely the case that two people’s communication needs are exactly a match for each other. It’s a dance, and the fairest thing to do when you’re not enjoying someone else’s communication is be clear and honest about why.

Share your boundary. It’s OK.

BUT these boundaries need to be carefully considered, and a ‘last resort’. Not the go-to response when an Autistic child starts sharing their deep interests.

Start from a position of “can I say yes, can I listen, can I connect in this moment? If not… then time for a boundary.”

Everyone’s needs are valid, including sensory, cognitive, social and energetic needs.

Here are some ways you can set boundaries around info-dumping that are respectful, clear, honest, affirming and fair:

“My ears are hurting a bit right now and need some quiet. Let’s pause and talk about capital cities in 10 minutes. I’ll set my timer so we remember to keep chatting, if you want to then.”
“I love chatting with you about Pokémon. Let’s talk more in a moment. I just need to make a phone call and then we can talk about it more!”
“Your sister also has something she really wants to share. Let’s make sure we both get a turn to share what we’re thinking about, so everyone feels good”

Reflection Moment:

Think about a time you legitimately needed to set a boundary around someone else info-dumping.

What were the deep, true reasons for this boundary? Did you share them truthfully with the other person? If not, what could you have said?

If you’re a Speech Therapist and you found this helpful, check out my course ‘Affirming Communication for Autistic Children‘ to learn more!

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