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  • Lisa Tew

Commenting Rule Part One - Is it Nice?


It is often difficult for the young person with high functioning autism or Asperger’s to know what is acceptable to say in different situations with different people. Without meaning to do so, they may say something that is blunt and tactless, that offends or hurts the feelings of another person, or that sounds unfriendly or disrespectful. You can help your child with high functioning autism or Asperger’s to comment in a way that conveys respect and improves their reputation.


The Commenting Rule is, “Is it nice and is it necessary?”. So when your child wants to make a comment, they must first ask themselves, “Is it nice?”

NIce: “Nice” is almost always acceptable and does a lot for one’s reputation! Positive word choices are ways to categorize “nice” comments. These positive word choice categories are:

Polite talk-please, thank you, excuse me, you’re welcome

Kind talk-I’m sorry that happened to you, would you like to share my lunch?, it’s not your fault

Compliments--You’re very kind to me, you’re the best, you’re really fast!

Encouragement--you can do it, it will get better, way to go!, only two more!

Positive self-talk (whispered or just thinking it, not usually out loud)--I can do it, tomorrow will be better, I did a good job with that, it’s almost time to go home

Tact--I really appreciate it or It was so nice of you to think of me (instead of “I’ve already got one”), let me help you (instead of “you did it wrong”), no thank you (instead of “I would never eat that, it’s disgusting”). Tact is easier to achieve if they ask themselves, “Is it positive?” first, before speaking.

Your young person should sprinkle their speech with a variety of “nice” words, from all the categories, in a variety of situations. They are hard to over-do! The exception is compliments, which should not be too frequent, should not be given to those he or she does not know well, and in the work setting especially should not be about appearance but rather about something job related such as job skills. Remember that nice words must be said with positivity in voice tone, facial expression, and body language (see Positivity blog!). When commenting positively they should not be in the space of others. I encourage you to post the positive word choice categories somewhere visible at home and talk about saying “nice” things: model them, notice them, and celebrate your child’s frequent use of “nice” positive word choices.


It is rather common for young people on the autism spectrum to have an issue with “saying something that is not true”, or “being insincere”. This can get in the way of saying “nice” things! Please talk with your child about being sincere at a deeper and more mature level: we can sincerely care about the feelings of others, sincerely want others to feel respected, and we do sincerely care about our reputations. When something is said that is not exactly true but is positive and considers the feelings of others and/or our reputation, it is said with a deeper and more mature kind of sincerity than simply “being accurate”.

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