This entry, aptly enough, is an example of my hyperverbalism!

If you are hyperverbal you may, prior to your identity as an autistic or ADHDer, have been labelled as over-sharing, or that you have a lot to say for yourself, even that you are over confident or that others can’t get a word in edgeways. Discovering the term hyperverbalism, to my utter relief, explains why I talk and write so much, even when I try really hard not to! Just knowing it’s completely normal for folk like us helps me understand that this is just who I am, and I hope it does for you too. What I find so refreshing being around other neurodivergents is that we can talk or type as much as we feel we need to and there’s no judgement.

This is one of those wonderful facets of autism that a large number of autistics and ADHDers experience. It’s nothing to do with wanting to be the centre of attention, or being disinterested in what others are saying. It’s nothing to do with liking the sound of our own voices. When we were small, particularly for girls, if we demonstrated language that stood out as being beyond what would be expected for someone our age, we were called precocious. If our language was unusual, if we demonstrated echolalia (repetition of speech), for instance, or if we had our own made-up languages that we enjoyed the ‘feel’ of – all of this is completely normal for an autistic person who is hyperverbal. It’s completely normal for us, as individuals. And we don’t need to change.

Until I learned what hyperverbalism was I spent the whole time apologising for talking too much. I knew immediately in any situation, from a GP appointment, a social gathering, or even a supermarket checkout experience, if I had spoken more than is socially expected. I might have spoken too fast, with too much detail or too intensely, too familiarly. Any or all of those things. I can’t lie, it does still make me cringe once I realise; a little shame wave kicks in, even though I now have better understanding of it. The trouble is, I don’t know I’m doing it until I get that awkward feedback.

What I can tell you is that even my diagnosing clinical psychologist commented on my need, and it is a need, to go off on tangents, and she kindly and constantly reined me in and reminded me we were going off topic! The trouble is, if I don’t give a bit of background, I don’t feel I’ve done an anecdote or vital piece of information justice. Facts don’t just happen in isolation, they happen in context.

I am also hyperverbal when:

  • I’m anxious, nervous or intimidated
  • when I’m masking
  • when I’m sharing ‘fascinating’ facts about one of my special interests!
  • when I’m excited and actually having a good time
  • when I’m trying to defend my position and fear that, unless I give all of the background, they won’t understand
  • when I’m trying to get out of a hole that someone else has had to tell me I’ve even dug
  • when I’m on the phone and don’t have the visual clues needed to know whose turn it is to speak

…and when I’m trying to explain hyperverbalism!

So many of us spend so much time playing out forthcoming scenarios in our heads, as a coping mechanism, and this means that, when we finally get to live the real experience, we have practiced it so often, we already have several mental scripts for it, irrespective of what the person we are talking with has in mind! Scripting in advance is a well documented aspect of neurodivergence.

Apparently, there’s a relationship between heightened mood and being hyperverbal, and that makes sense to me: talking quickly, continuously, with copious detail, when my emotions are aroused. All I can say is that when I’m happily home alone, I’m pretty much beautifully silent, apart from singing and talking to myself and my dogs, and I love it. I’m also selectively mute, but that’s a whole other page…

Here’s an interesting article on the subject of hyperverbalism from the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.

Knowing we are hyperverbal, literally by nature, is just one more thing that we don’t have to feel apologetic for. And that’s got to be a good thing.