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June 16, 2024

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In a world rich with diverse ways of thinking and processing information, communication styles can vary significantly, especially between neurodivergent (ND) and neurotypical (NT) individuals. Neurodivergent people β€” those whose brain functions differ from what is considered typical β€” often feel compelled to provide extensive explanations for concepts that neurotypicals might perceive as simple. This inclination stems from a desire for thorough understanding and clarity but can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and frustration on both sides. This article explores the dynamics of this communication gap and offers strategies for more effective interaction.

Understanding the Neurodivergent Communication Style

Neurodivergent individuals, including those with autism, ADHD, and other cognitive variations, often experience the world in a uniquely detailed and nuanced way. They may process information deeply and are frequently meticulous in their thinking and communication. For NDs, the urge to over-explain can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Ensuring Clarity: NDs might over-explain to ensure that all aspects of a concept are clear and that there are no misunderstandings. They often anticipate questions or confusion that might arise, addressing these proactively in their explanations.
  2. Providing Necessary Context: Many NDs feel that understanding the full context of a situation is essential for genuine comprehension. Thus, they provide extensive background information that they consider relevant, even if it appears tangential to NTs.
  3. Addressing Their Own Needs: Sometimes, NDs explain things in detail as a way to process their own thoughts and organize the information in their minds. What might seem like an explanation for the listener is also a way for the speaker to clarify their own understanding.

Challenges Faced by Neurotypicals

From the perspective of NTs, who might process information more quickly or less deeply on certain topics, the ND tendency to over-explain can seem unnecessary or even cumbersome. This difference in communication style can lead to several issues:

  1. Perceived Irrelevance: NTs might feel that the additional information provided by NDs is irrelevant to the main point or question, leading to frustration or impatience.
  2. Communication Fatigue: Listening to lengthy explanations that seem unnecessary can lead to communication fatigue, where NTs might tune out or disengage from the conversation.
  3. Misinterpretation: NTs might interpret the detailed explanations as pedantic or interpretative of their understanding, which could strain relationships or communication dynamics.

Strategies for Effective Communication

To bridge these communication gaps, both NDs and NTs can employ strategies that accommodate differing needs and enhance mutual understanding:

  1. Express Communication Preferences: Both parties should feel empowered to express their communication preferences openly. NDs can explain their need for detail and context, while NTs can request more concise information if they feel overwhelmed.
  2. Use Structured Communication: NDs might find it helpful to structure their communications with a summary or a clear distinction between main points and additional details. This structure can help NTs follow along more easily and decide how much detail they need.
  3. Practice Active Listening: NTs should practice active listening, acknowledging the ND’s need for detailed explanation, and showing appreciation for the thoroughness, even if they prefer less detail.
  4. Clarify and Ask for Feedback: NDs can periodically check in with their NT listeners to ask if the explanation is clear and if the level of detail is appropriate. This not only helps in tailoring the information to the listener’s needs but also engages them in the communication process.
  5. Educate on Neurodiversity: Increasing awareness and understanding of neurodiversity in all settings can foster more inclusive and accommodating communication practices. Education can help NTs understand why NDs communicate the way they do, and vice versa.


The neurodivergent urge to over-explain and the neurotypical response of annoyance represent a fundamental difference in communication styles influenced by cognitive diversity. By fostering an environment of mutual understanding, respect, and adaptability, both NDs and NTs can navigate these differences more effectively, leading to richer and more productive interactions.


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