Reciprocal social interaction: Difficulties in non-verbal communication

This part of the resource is about the ability to use nonverbal expression - gaze, facial expression, body language and gesture - to augment and clarify what is spoken. To do this the above modes of non-verbal communication have to be well coordinated and well integrated with any speech.

The person may not instinctively use non-verbal expression. They may have learnt non-verbal communication by imitating others, which can result in behaviour that over the extended time of an interview leaves the interviewer with a feeling of odd repetition, or awkwardness, or overdramatic gestures and expression. It's also about the ability to understand these nonverbal signals coming from others.

The Guide explores the understanding of own use of gesture and the awareness of others and an informant’s experience of this. It also explores the person’s recognition of emotion and ability to describe emotions. He or she may demonstrate difficulty describing and recognising emotions (alexithymia). These difficulties will affect the ability to develop socio-emotional reciprocity.

The answers to some questions here about literality and understanding what others mean can feed into the social and emotional understanding of others in the previous section as well as that a lack of non-verbal awareness makes it more difficult for them to decipher others.

It is important to OBSERVE the patient’s non-verbal communication throughout the interview, looking at how speech is modulated, its pitch and emphases varied, and how this and what is said is integrated with nonverbal communication.

There are 15 video clips in this part of the interview resource.

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