To Mimic Is Human

Written by tagÂûght

Have you ever found yourself listening to the way you speak, or paying attention to the way you move, and suddenly realize that you’re imitating someone else?

I certainly have, the most recent of which was about five minutes before I started writing this post!

Over the last three to four years, there have been times when I will say things a certain way, or choose certain words, that immediately call to mind a friend or close acquaintance.

“But autistics have trouble mimicking others! Mirror neuron issues!” you say?

Actually, a talent for mimicry seems to be one of the traits common to female autistics. It’s one of the reasons why female autistics are much harder to diagnose – and have a harder time getting diagnosed – than most male autistics. We tend to mimic automatically, without thinking about it, which helps us pass in general society – though it’s not without its pitfalls, of course.

I don’t know about others, but I certainly never knew I did that. Oh, as a child every so often I’d notice once I was home in Toronto after a trip to see family in Newfoundland, I would say some words with a Newfoundland accent – specifically the accent of one of my aunts – but I just thought I had a good ear for accents.

It wasn’t until a month or two after one of my CAPP meetings that I realized. My dad had just either picked me up or dropped me off one Sunday (can’t remember the specifics, I’m afraid), and I said something to him. A moment later, I went, “I sound like Patricia right now!”

And, in fact, I did – right down to my intonation and word choice.

Since then, I’ve noticed when I do it – most of the time, as far as I’m aware…. It doesn’t happen that frequently, and it can be weeks to months after I last saw the person in question, but for a minute or two, I sound exactly like someone else I know – just the actual voice is different.

It’s a bit weird… but at the same time, kind of neat. I think I’ve mentioned before that I write fanfiction (it taught me a lot for writing my own original stuff), and one thing that people have said from the very first story I wrote, way back in the days of Babylon 5, was that I had a gift for writing the characters’ voices in such a way that they could ‘hear’ the character actually saying them. It was a great compliment, and I think that talent for mimicry is at least partly responsible for that. 🙂

Anyway, just wanted to send out my thoughts on that, prompted by the inadvertent mimicry of my favourite Social Group facilitator!

(Upcoming posts: Executive Function basics, and my Sensory Issues presentation!)

😉 tagÂûght

2 comments on “To Mimic Is Human

  1. Echolalia 🙂

  2. IIRC echolalia is repetition of words and noises. Mimicry is much subtler.

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