While visiting Doug, a 17 year-old guy with an ASD, at his school, his teacher stopped to speak with him for a few moments. She spoke animatedly in a bright, cheerful voice and complimented him on some recent academic successes he had had. When she walked away, the young man turned to me and remarked, “she’s a very nice person, but sometimes she talks to me like I’m a little slow.”
Other adolescents and young adults on the spectrum have told me that some people tend to speak to them like they are much younger, using sing-songy voices and asking questions that you’d more typically ask a younger child. One young man told me he thinks that his gestures are still childlike, which naturally causes people to talk to him like he’s a child, even though he is a senior in college. Doug speaks very slowly with a flat tone, which may be why his teacher addresses him with babytalk, even though he is a bright and mature high schooler.