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The Autism Spectrum According to Autistic People

Autism neurodiversity
Autism neurodiversity

Weavers and Concluders: Two Communication Styles No One Knows Exist

a colorful brain against a black background with a black infinity symbol in the middle of it

For many people, and especially neurodivergent people, communication is a life-long struggle that– no matter how much we practice and adjust– rarely seems to go the way we expect.

Regardless of how careful we are to frame what we say, there is a strong chance that it will be misinterpreted. Sometimes, misinterpretations are catastrophic and can cause fractured friendships, job loss, marriage dissolution, arrests, or other life-altering negative consequences.

Usually, though, those communication differences are the proverbial death of a thousand paper cuts, resulting in an existence of never being able to communicate casually. Every communication is thought about and over-thought. Life is spent walking on eggshells. We either stop telling jokes and accessing our humor or face more rejection. We stop talking about our passions, or we risk people feeling bored and disconnected.

If our communication style is the minority way of communicating, then how we inherently need to relate to others is pathologized as being wrong and a deficiency. From that angle, there is nothing that we can do other than to apologize in perpetuity and interact in a way that others deem broken, disordered, and lacking. We are told that we lack empathy, we lack interrelational intuition, and we lack social skills. No one is expected to accommodate our communication styles, so all the work is on us to constantly override what comes naturally.

But we know that autistic people do communicate differently and in ways that make sense to other autistic people. This is not to say that every autistic person seamlessly communicates with other autistic people, but we do communicate with each other much more fluently than others communicate with us. Our instincts do not fail us as often.

A Minority Within the Minority

But even within the autistic community, there seems to be at least two distinct communication styles that account for a lot of miscommunication. The same difficulties I have had with non-autistic people often happen within the autistic community. It seems that without understanding these communication differences, the potential for conflict is high.

Concluders and Weavers

I would like to posit that there are two types of communicators that exist within the autistic community. While there may be more, these are the two that I have been able to identify. These may not be exclusive to autistic people, either, and may also correlate with other forms of neurodivergence (ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette’s, etc.).

Concluders

Concluders are, by a large margin, the majority of communicators. I’m calling them “Concluders” because they speak with the intention to make a point. They may speak directly:

This person is “blunt,” and they do little padding of their communication with platitudes, examples, details, metaphors, or flowery language. Others are less direct:

These people are still Concluders, but they may speak indirectly and pepper their communication with lots of hints and tangents. Others take the scenic route:

These communicators are effusive storytellers. They have metaphors and analogies, use lots of words, might be distractable, and are known as “talkative,” but they still have a destination, or a “point” they are trying to make.

And you may be thinking… “Isn’t there always a point?”

Yes, and no. I’ll Explain.

Enter Weavers

Weavers are a small minority of communicators, and they do not communicate with a destination in mind. That is not to say that they don’t have a “point,” per se, but they don’t have a defined destination. They are not, generally, communicating to make a point. They are looking, instead, to make a tapestry. Weaver communication, using the same map as above, is more like this:

When Weavers communicate, their conversations are to build a dimensional pattern with many “points” that are intended to intersect with their conversational partners points. Weavers do this by stating facts. This confuses Concluders because it appears that they have reached the end of the conversation or the “point” without expecting any input from them.

Concluders often wonder of Weaver communication, “What’s the point?” Weavers have probably been asked that very question many times in their lives.

Because people only think of communicators as Concluders, they apply the same rules of Concluder interaction to Weavers. They don’t do this intentionally, of course, because they are not aware that some people are Weavers.

Weavers throw out a fact, though, hoping that their conversational partner will respond with another fact. This fact isn’t meant to be an end point, but an anchor point for the other person to toss out there intersecting fact. These facts aren’t endpoints at all. In fact, Weavers don’t typically make end points.

When a Weaver throws out a fact, it’s intended to be more like an open-ended question that asks, “What does your thing have to do with my thing?” or “What experience do you have that is like my experience?”

I have documented this before in my article, Very Grand Emotions, and have seen other Autistic people opining on the same conversational dilemma. For Autistic people who are weavers, their communication style is painted as having a lack of empathy because they respond the way that another Weaver would respond.

This tendency has been catastrophically described by Simon Baron-Cohen as being “mind blind” or not knowing how to empathize. This couldn’t be less true, though. Weavers have profound empathy, which is why they are responding in a way that other Weavers would find validating.

Deeper Than Conversational Differences

Weaver communication is more than just being wired to respond with a counter-point or another pin in the map of human experience. Weavers have different expectations of relationships that are grounded in a set of values about what communication means. These values are as innate and intuitive as the conversational norms of Concluders.

For a Weaver, communication exists to build this dimensional pattern that intermingles one person’s world with the other based on what the other person wants to share. The foundation of this style of relating is that the other person’s input is not based in guided discussion with a destination in mind (like Concluders) but on allowing the other person to choose the pattern they will form.

Weaver communication is like a dance that allows for a regular trade-off of who is leading and who is following. Unfortunately, when trying to dance with a Concluder, the result will be a lot of toes being stepped on. Concluders believe that this exchange of facts is just someone trying to be dominant because they don’t understand the “point.”

Here is a conversation that I had with someone whom I knew had many conflicting beliefs and values. I let him know that I was difficult to offend. Here’s how the conversation progressed:

Him: good; we’re two thick-skinned folks
Me: Yes, haha. One of my favorite quotes is from Moby Dick. The blacksmith tells Ahab, “Not easily can’st thou scorch a scar.”

At this point, a Concluder would have probably just glossed over the quote. But, I knew I was speaking to another Weaver when he responded, (some lines removed to protect confidentiality. Conversation shared with permission):

Him: Gibran also poses: “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
Me: Well played
Me: So you’re autistic, too, is what you’re telling me, haha
Him: someone just asked me if I were
Him: I carry no diagnosis
Him: [although Leondard Cohen is the best]
Him: “Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as a secret to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.”

This is how two Weavers getting to know each other might interact.

Weavers interact in large part by quoting things that have resonated with them in the past, and those things often are the same things that have resonated with other Weavers. This is, obviously, because they have identified people who communicate the same way in literature, pop culture, film, or historical context.

If someone read through my and my brother’s text messages through the years, they would probably find it utter and complete nonsense. It’s what I’ve come to reference as “Peak Weaver.”

Here’s a snippet from one conversation:

Me: Insipid Manhattan debutantes
Him: Cruel Intentions
Me: No
Him: Best of the Best!!!
Me: I am the son of the woman who replaced your dead mother for a time. It was your anger that drove them apart!
Him: It’s a lie!
Me: It’s not a lie!
Him: Robin Hood. Love that one.
Me: And placed into it not one, but two large pieces of sheep shit
Him: White water in the morning
Me: 60% of the time, it works every time
Him: Is that gasoline I smell
Me: Hey, this alien looks just like a hot guy
Him: Hippa than a hippopotamus
Me: Sprinkle me
Him: I killed a man with a trident
Me: Everlasting strength
Him: Best one yet
Me: [Screenshot of me sending “Everlasting strength” to our cousin about 20 times in a row]
Him: Pete Incaviglia

I suspect that other Weavers will maybe recognize some lines from the above. Others are inside jokes. There are several quotes from Chris Farley, Norm Macdonald, or Will Ferrell movies. The “Hippa than a hippopotamus” line is a reference from an episode of Soul Train we watched in 1995. It’s from a song called “Sprinkle me” by E40.

“Everlasting Strength” is a line from a song that used to haunt my cousin (another weaver). This is probably from 1989. Pete Incaviglia is a baseball player who tripped and fell into a dugout while trying to catch a foul ball– maybe in 1992. The word “No” is a James Earl Jones quote from the movie, Best of the Best (1989). While a billion people have uttered the word “no,” we will know exactly what that means.

The longer Weavers know each other, the more complex their tapestry becomes. This is no different than two people telling stories that begin with “Remember the time when…” It’s simply a different way of being nostalgic and is based on different conversational expectations.

Other times, our conversation is an exchange of quotes from people like Alan Watts, Herman Melville, and recording artists who are probably all autistic Weavers. We have always gravitated to the same things, and the more Weavers I meet, the more I learn that we all tend to share similar interests.

My most powerful relationships have been with other Weavers, probably because we naturally seem to get each other. In fact, without understanding what it means that some people are Weavers, it can feel like the first time that someone else has ever understood us. We feel like we are completing the other person’s brain because, in a way, we are. We are fleshing out the intersecting tapestry that combines our thoughts and experiences with someone else’s.

In fact, I named the protagonist of my novel Isaac in what is a very Weaver move (all of the names are Weaver moves). Isaac is named after Icosahedron, or a shape that I think represents Weaver relationships:

All of my closest friends are Weavers. We trade quotes and memes and build on previous “points of contact” so that our tapestry becomes more complex and interwoven. Aspects of this communication are hilarious, other are profoundly emotional.

Weaver Communication is Hard-Wired

I have a theory about Weaver communication and the specific ways that some brains are configured. Weavers tend to be good at memorizing things that resonate with them, like song lyrics, lines from movies or books (sometimes even whole movies), and other large pieces of information.

My daughter is definitely a Weaver. Others have remarked on her memory and how with each person she knows, she will remember little “things” they had as points of interaction that were in some way meaningful. She remembers and brings up things from the past, and I know the response she’s hoping for. She wants them to build on those moments of connection and weave a tapestry of relatedness together.

This doesn’t always pan out for her, though, as others don’t always– or even usually– remember the moment she’s referencing. When I tell them, “Remember two years ago, that time you were throwing rocks in the creek, and you said ‘splash’ with a funny voice and both kept repeating it and laughing at each other?” They think I’m crazy for imagining that a 4.5-year-old could remember something from two years ago or could be referencing that in a conversation years later.

She was a late talker, and our Weaver communication was totally wordless before she began to speak. We had noises we would make, movements we would build from, and other exchanges that may have seemed nonsense to most people. When she started talking, we would take turns naming objects in lists: words that begin with A, hoofed animals, space words, the alphabet (forwards and backwards), counting by 2s, 3s, or 5s, taking turns saying lines from books she loved, etc.

It seems that most Weavers are both Autistic and ADHD… and are often dyslexic, dyspraxic, and/or apraxic, too.

My theory is that they are right-brain language learners. Please dump the notion that the left brain is the logical part of the brain and the right brain is the creative part. That’s simply not true of neuroscience. What is true, though, is that most people receive and express language predominantly from the left hemisphere of the brain, but some autistic people create language from the right.

I believe that these people are Weavers, and they communicate to create patterns rather than to arrive at an end point.

Weaver Communication and Social Consequence

Weavers live a life of missed connections. They are accused of monopolizing communication or of bringing the topic back to themselves. They do, in fact, bring the communication back to the self because they are trying to open the door for the other person to share their insights.

I have looked for a good example that could be universally understood to describe Weaver communication when it hit me the other day that Lulu Is a Rhinoceros, one of the children’s books we are using as a basis for people to help spread autistic acceptance, is a book about a Weaver who is regularly rejected by Concluders…

No description available.

Lulu is a rhinoceros who communicates like a Weaver– by throwing out a fact. The dogs she interacts with don’t respond as a Weaver would. They respond like Concluders. They believe Lulu has made her point, and they don’t really know what to do with the conversation.

Lulu eventually runs into another Weaver, though, and they take turns stating facts. These facts serve as open-ended questions, and they figure out how they can create a tapestry together. It’s the start of a beautiful friendship that is less about their commonalities and more about how their differences are complementary.

Weavers Rarely Ask Questions

Weavers do not tend to ask many questions outside of seeking factual clarification. This can seem to Concluders to be disinterest in the other person’s life; however, asking questions generates a point on the map the other person may not want in the tapestry they are weaving and may break the pattern they wish to communicate.

Similarly, Weavers may be uncomfortable with questions because they feel compelled to answer them factually instead of how the other person wants them to answer. Even questions like, “How was your day?” or “How did that make you feel” can change the pattern the other person wants to weave as interaction.

If a Weaver wants to know how the other person’s day was, they would instead state something factual about their day. This is highly nuanced communication, but it just appears like selfish and blunt Concluder conversation to Concluders. Here’s how a conversation might go between two Weavers:

Weaver Jo: I stubbed my toe again.
Weaver Alex: I got my tie caught in the paper shredder at work.
Weaver Jo: I poured myself a pot of coffee but forgot the filter.
Weaver Alex: I put the soap on my toothbrush again.
Weaver Jo: You win.

There are lots of things implied here, and there is a lot of unspoken nuance in this interaction. Both people understand the conversational style of the other, both understand that directly talking about their feelings or even validating the other person’s feelings would be too intrusive, and both are finding the common ground of the absurdity of existence. Their emotions are implied. When Jo cedes that Alex is winning, what they really mean is, “Your day was worse than mine. That must be hard for you.”

Here is how that conversation might go with a Concluder:

Weaver Jo: I stubbed my toe again.
Concluder Reese: That must have hurt. Are you okay?
Weaver Jo: I guess. It still hurts a little.
Concluder Reese: Do you need to go to the doctor?
Weaver Jo: I can bend it.
Concluder Reese: So you don’t think it’s broken?
Weaver Jo: It isn’t swollen or bruised.

This conversation might continue awkwardly with the subject being a stubbed toe. Concluder Reese thinks that Jo is trying to arrive at a destination or make a point, and so they are communicating in ways that help Jo get to their destination.

Since there is no destination in Jo’s mind, Reese will likely feel like Jo has some ulterior motive because they are unable to figure out what the “point” is. Reese might wonder if Jo is trying to make the point that they should be neater around the house and not leave things where someone could stub a toe on them.

What Weaver Jo was trying to do was open a conversation. They were asking, “How was your day?” but in the nuanced way of the Weaver. Concluder Reese is responding like a Concluder might respond and probably is confused as to why Jo brought up the toe at all if it’s not broken, bruised, or swollen.

Concluder Reese will not get an opportunity to talk about their day and may think that Weaver Jo is making the conversation about themself. Neither are selfish, they just are wired with different conversational norms. Weaver Jo will feel disappointed that the conversation is bluntly asking about their feelings and if they need to go to the doctor. Concluder Reese will probably feel like Jo doesn’t care about their day.

Concluders will forever look for a point, and since Weavers are averse to making direct points that have an end goal, these conversational missed connections will happen every day, often ending in hurt feelings and devastating misinterpretations.

A NeuroInclusive Story of Concluders and Weavers

Since Lulu Is a Rhinoceros is such an apt example of Concluder and Weaver communication, I made a NeuroInclusive story about it based on the book. This will simplify the long-form in a way that will hopefully be digestible to younger readers and communicators.

A Theory of Two Types of Communicators

This theory is based on my experience and has been colloquially and individually tested over a four-year span. It is not a scientifically-validated theory and has no empirical support. Other than comparing notes with other autistics and even autistic psychologists and researchers, no data exists to substantiate this theory.

These are the basics of Weaver and Concluder communication, and my intention is to write more in depth on these differences in the future.

Further, even if these two communication styles are valid, there could be other communication styles beyond Concluders and Weavers with different communication instincts. Some people may be a little of both, but I expect that most Weavers have learned to translate to Concluder language since Concluders are the vast majority.

This theory is being published with the hopes to start conversations and to see if others find this information relatable and applicable to their lives. It may help to shape and put words on why they have experienced so many missed connections with people about whom they genuinely care.

Please leave your comments if this resonates with you or if you have other ideas.

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44 Responses

  1. I love this, thanks. As a weaver, wondering if concluder-inclined folks are comfortable with the designation ‘concluder’, or have other suggestions…

  2. Terra, I read your post with interest. I mean no offense by what follows.

    I believe I have encountered the weaver communication style a few times in my life. In 1995, I was enrolled in an undergraduate survey course called “History of India.” The professor who taught the section of the course from September to December was an older man, probably late 50s, speaking with a noticeable Indian accent. His lectures always seemed a bit disjointed to me, as if he were mentioning a number of facts from the chapter but not bringing them to any particular conclusion. My solution to this problem – read the chapter before coming to class – was effective enough to make sense of what the professor said and even gain some insights that were not on the printed pages.

    Fast forward about 20 years and an economist from Iran began working for me. He is a cheerful fellow, very bright, and brings many good ideas to our projects. Our interactions have been through conversations (and emails, of course), as opposed to lectures from the preceding example. When we talk, I find he is reluctant to draw a conclusion from the facts he has assembled. Part of me wanted to imagine that the reluctance to draw conclusions came from his experience working for a statistical agency. And yet, I was taken back to my student days and remembering (fondly, in the main) my professor from the “History of India” class.

    I had identified the weaver style as being particular to (or at least more common in) certain cultures. Thinking back over my interactions with these two people, I do not see signs of their being fellow autists (although, who knows, they may be masking very effectively).

    Terra, does your research into the weaver style extend into its predominance in cultures than the one in which you observed it? Would you contend that the reticence to draw conclusions is more common among autists, regardless of cultural or linguistic background?

    1. Excellent discussion points!

      I’ve found that the Weaver communication style is universal and is not unique to culture. My parents are Concluders, and both siblings are Weavers. Two of my grandparents were weavers. Trying to communicate was almost all hit or all miss. I have autistic friends in six continents, and they are a mix of communication types.

      This aversion to drawing conclusions or definitively stating a point seems to be very much neurological, though cultural influences may very well influence how it presents.

      It’s possible that neurotypical people are sometimes Weavers, but I do not believe it’s even possible. I think that in order to be a Weaver, one must be wired to produce language in a different part of the brain.

      It will be very interesting to hear from others how they experience communication and their neurotype(s)

      1. I think you’re right that NT folks can’t be Weavers – because I think that they have a different version of that – dropping hints, small talk, and a lot of the other stuff that leaves autistic people of any and all communication types frustrated. The usual name for that is a guesser – people whose communication style dovetails nicely with Guess Culture. https://www.teenlife.ngo/ask-culture-and-guess-culture/ ) It’s just that when autistic people have a “guessing” brain, basically none of their guesses met with anything a neurotypical might guess. Whereas a Concluder is more like an Asker, and more compatible with Ask Culture, which is more direct, and easier to translate between neurotypes. And I’ve noticed that, while I’m a Concluder, when I try to apply social nuance it ends up looking somewhat like Weaver tactics (but applied in a more deliberate sense, as opposed to naturally). Things like stating facts instead of asking questions when I have been afraid of looking stupid, or, when talking to someone who doesn’t want to hear direct language, using long perseverating explanations to pad what I’m saying. Which kind of makes me think that a lot of this comes from social nuance taking on a distinctly different shape when it comes from autistic people as opposed to NT folks.

        And part of what muddies the waters as well is that sometimes people who might not even be neurodivergent in any way do seem to mimic weavers sometimes without understanding them (or even that they exist as a specific category) and then use that mimicry to sound smart or knowledgeable of things they have no expertise in. Jordan Peterson comes to mind there – it seems his entire career is based on parroting the mannerisms of a Weaver to make himself sound smart and then using that as smoke and mirrors to claim that people “didn’t understand the context”. And the fact that some of his fans will describe what he does as things like “building a cathedral” says this as well. It says to me that he’s faking this kind of thing. And that isn’t helpful to actual Weavers – they’re the ones building cathedrals and other such things with their communication, meanwhile Peterson gets more credit for that because he got famous off of a grift (oh, and by the way this includes twisting the meaning of a lobster study that my favorite college professor did work on – it was an all-female study of which she was one of the co-authors). And I seriously doubt Peterson is autistic – so he has no idea what he is even faking. He might have the smarts to fake it, but not the neurology to understand what he is looking at (or the willingness to try and understand). And I don’t think Jordan Peterson is the only one – there are a number of fake gurus and spiritual guides out there who try to mimic such things to sell stuff – but when you see the real thing you can tell those sellers are faking it.

        1. I have another article on this half way finished and it’s all about the conclusions we draw and the hints we are making (guess culture is new to me), but you’re spot on!

      2. The people that you refer to as born Weavers and that I refer to as Model Builders are definitely a minority. The extent to which they are recognised as unusual, appreciated, or marginalised and pathologised depends on culture. In cultures that appreciate Weavers / Model Builders it is to be expected that their way of social interaction and knowledge sharing will find its way into the mainstream culture. The born Concluders / Story Tellers in such inclusive cultures will likely strive to adopt or at least imitate Weaver / Model Builder style communication to some extent.

        Also, there are many different ways of weaving / model building. Scientific models that focus on narrow silos / disciplines are very different from semantic models of complex living systems that include model building agents (not only humans develop mental maps / models :-). The world of agent based models is recursive.

        1. As a Concluder who sometimes connects certain things and applies those connections in conversation, I think “Weaver” is the more appropriate and specific term of the two, as “model builder” could just as easily refer to my subtype of Concluder as it could to a Weaver.

    2. I feel like you’re begging the question here. I don’t think it was ever stated or implied that weavers are unwilling or unable to draw conclusions – it’s just not the way we *communicate* – that doesn’t mean we won’t, after an exploration and rapport-building exchange of relevant information – come to a conclusion ( to the degree we feel the evidence warrants) but we’d have to do it by formally calling the question and then doing a little more back and forth fact stating. We’re capable of writing formal essays, and delivering coherent lectures too. We just prefer to delveop and come to those conclusions in a less declarative way. At least, that’s my personal sense of it as someone who deeply identifies with this entire concept.

  3. I love this so much! I never knew about this, but the Weaver communication style resonates so much with me.

  4. I was recently diagnosed with Autism and ADHD and I definitely identify as a concluder. Social interaction just never flows for me so I’m better off just getting to the point and getting the conversation over with. I don’t want a conversation with no end point. I’m probably considered the more serious and boring friend because of this.

  5. Fascinating read! I’m thinking about about how this might correlate with other differences within the autistic (or otherwise neurodivergent) community.

    One thing that came to mind is, how much harder it might be for a non speaking Weaver that’s learning to use a form assisted communication to not get his attempts at communicating dismissed by Concluders at the receiving end?

    1. This is eye-opening. As never-diagnosed spectrum-dweller, I’ve learned a lot of what I know about non-neuro-typical people from having non-neurotypical children. Certainly many things about my life make more sense when viewed through that lens – like needing metaphors and similarities to understand new concepts, for example. “Oh, so it’s like [previously learned skill], but left-handed? Cool.”

      In that respect, your article made me realize I’m a natural Weaver with learned Concluder tendencies… while my stories sometimes have a point, I’m often just sharing facts and am more comfortable making those facts about me, since I can’t trust I can remember facts about others as well. I resonate deeply with meme culture, in the sense that it is a modern hieroglyphic-style language shared by people who use references to them as touchstones and facts to Weave with. Much like the Tamarians of Star Trek:TNG, whose entire language is built on shared references and metaphor, many of my most enjoyable interactions are just quoting Vines at each other.

      I think my youngest is a weaver and that’s why I’m sometimes in sync with her and other times completely frustrated with not knowing where she’s going with what she’s saying. This theory of yours gives me another lens to see through, and something to remember when I’m feeling the rising panic of the Concluder part of me, so I can relax and see if I can get back to the Weave she’s building.

      Thank you!

  6. I’m NT and I believe I have a young weaver in my life. Communicating with her is like being in an improv show based on shared source materials (at the moment Daniel Tiger, Peppa Pig, and various children’s stories). It’s incredibly fun! I am wondering what you feel the connection between echolalia/delayed echolalia is with the 2 communication styles, and how the weaver communication style may fit with gestalt language processing/development. Thank you so much for writing this article–it’s fascinating and resonated so much! It also made me think about how when I know someone very very well and we have beloved shared referents, we communicate in the weaver style (mainly for connecting with levity), but ultimately can’t sustain this style or use it for deeper/more personal conversations because it’s not our (neurological?) default. Maybe there is some amount of fluidity to it?

    1. My partner and I use echolalia and certain repeated routines as part of our weaver communication to stitch together the shared fabric of our days.

  7. I do relate to this, but also as Lucy says, I would suspect cultural layers to this, too. Saying this also based on my experience with some people from the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East – you obviously can’t generalise over whole “cultures” (like it’s a monolith), but I have heard from people that certainly storytelling, or even referencing poetry and other shared cultural goods is far more common in some circles than others as a “standard” form of communication / play.

    My strongest example is a friend from a Jewish ultra-orthodox tradition which – according to his interpretation – upholds theoretical debate about religious matter as the standard way of socialising for [educated] men: the debate is explicitly *not* to have a “point”, i.e. it’s not about who is right, or what solution you are going to apply; it’s purely about connecting via a playful, imaginative, witty interaction based on intellectual twists, push-and-pull, and far-flung metaphors, associations, of course based on shared references from the Talmudic texts / traditions (I hope I didn’t write anything too stupid, I’m not an expert on the tradition, just trying to paraphrase my friend who is).

    Now whenever my friend is outside his circles and in the secular “Western” world, he tries to socialise that way, and it’s a total and utter disaster – people think he wants to pick a fight, make fun of them, or that he is dishonest / doesn’t have an opinion (because he will change positions so as to make the debate interesting – it’s boring if you all agree).

    Inside his society, on the other hand, he was popular and top of his class for being good at this. And he saw other people, those who think more linearly and practically (I would suspect your “concluders” – those who want a practical upshot from a discussion and get confused when there isn’t one), struggle and get depressed in this environment / hierarchy of values.

    So regarding my latter statement, it would confirm your theory that this is to some degree a quite fixed personal inclination / cognitive style – as the concluders in this case didn’t adapt well to this culture of connecting through “pointless [philosophical] debate”. But I also think culture plays a role in pushing people more one way or the other – as you say in our society “weavers” learn to “conclude” somewhat, and in my friend’s society the natural concluders are being trained to get better at the weaver style, at least within specific circles. The natural weavers in these cultures stay weavers and never learn the concluder style. The people who are in the middle might also get influenced one way or the other by their culture.


    Also, if we’re talking about the same thing here, I would understand what you call the “weaver” style basically as using words to connect through play – rather than to (only) arrive at practical points (= deciding what to do, getting what you want, gaining information, etc.).

    I do think there are people who can do both, I’d say I’m definitely one of them. My natural leaning is to make random noises, stories, associations, and philosophical theories as a form of playing with others – and yes, lots of people don’t get that (my partner included: my understanding is that these people use language mostly as a tool coordinate actions – not as a flexible “toy” to connect through its their own right).

    Would you agree with my perception that this is a bit about using language as play vs. utility? Roughly “connect through playing with ideas / images / words / associations” vs. “connect through coordinating and implementing practical actions”?

    I have a feeling there’s more and that’s not all there is to it, but for me this is a salient aspect. Also Janelle mentioned the term “improv show”, and I’d say that’s an apt description of what the “point” is when I engage in this – it’s a specific form of play, “dance”, fun, creativity. Ah and my weaver friend’s most kindred sister is also a comedy artist 🙂

    1. I love this post. It’s so Weaver 😂. In fact, there’s an article that is so on brand with syntax that it’s almost like you’re the same author. It’s about sapiosexuality and whether it’s an ableist concept.

      I think that your friend’s peak Weaver communication is culturally influenced but seems to also be very much distilled through a Weaver lens. There are a lot of aspects of Jewish culture and of Eastern collectivist cultures that are inherently more inclusive of NDs, which I think means that fewer NDs would be diagnosed in those cultures since they’re naturally accommodated.

      Weaver communication is like a dance or play, but it’s not always levity or banter. It can be profoundly deep, meaningful, sexual, or emotional, too.

      I think most literary greats are weavers

    2. I distinguish between Story Tellers and Model Builders. Storytellers travel from A to B. Model builders are observers, ask questions, add new perspectives, and attempt to connect the dots between perspectives.

      But spoken language is linear. The linear format makes life easy for storytellers. But linear stories can literally be misleading unless the destination B is a place where you (as the listener or reader) would like to be.

      Spoken language forces model builders to serialise their mental models into linear strings of words. Model builders are acutely aware of the associative structures of their mental models (all the semantic links between different concepts). Mental models are literally the first language for model builders. Linear spoken language is like a second language for model builders that we are forced to use whenever we speak or write.

      At home I have a 2.5 m * 6 m white board that is covered in visual (non linear) representations of mental models. At work I use visual modelling and screen sharing tools to communicate as much as possible without creating misunderstandings.

      All humans build semantic mental models. For some this is a conscious activity and for others it seems to be much more of a subconscious background activity. Here is a very good book that explains the fundamental role of metaphors and conceptual blending of metaphors in human thought: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/799328.The_Way_We_Think. Visual (non linear) diagrams are a natural language for representing, instantiating, and blending metaphors. George Lakoff was one of the first people to explore and research the role of metaphors in human thought and communication.

      I have written a longer article about the problematic aspects of storytelling that may be of interest: https://jornbettin.com/2017/08/22/are-you-a-model-builder-or-a-story-teller/.

      1. One of my favorite things about posting something that’s a new theory (in my head) is that I get to see other autistic people have already reached the same or similar conclusions— then we can weave in discussion!

        1. Yes 🙂 A lot of the time something similar happens in my work as part of the Creative Collaboration service our company offers https://s23m.com/creative-collaboration.html. In that context I don’t walk in with any theories, but I ask questions that help others communicate their experiences and illustrate their theories. If more than one person in the room offers a theory, then the weaving can begin. And this by the way is *very* different from arguing with each other, in an attempt to win or convince the other person(s). The objective is to find semantic connections between the different perspectives, and not to negate any perspective. Everyone learns as part of the process, and knowledge flows in all directions.

  8. This means so much to me!! I immediately resonated with the Weaver style and it explained so much of my life. Thank you!

  9. This helps so much! I am a weaver, and all my life I’ve felt I had to be a concluder to talk with most everyone. I fake it, but it hurts and isn’t satisfying to either party and leads to misunderstanding. I have a few weaver friends and a weaver partner, and it never hurts to talk to them, unless I forget and try to be a concluder with them. This is exciting to read this. I’m a rhinoceros.

  10. Love this, I identify with both though, and now want to have several conversations with people of each style to clarify my understanding! Love the texts between your and your brother. I love word play and association games (songs with shapes in the title, for example) which seems very Weaver, but I always try to find the point of a conversation, which is very Concluder. But if the point of a conversation is to play (Weaver-style word games) then the Concluder part of me that needs to know the point is happy and I will play way past the point where everyone else has had enough 😂

  11. The weaver style is how I communicate, and this article strongly resonates with me. (I am autistic). Thank you for explaining concluder communication.

  12. I’m Autistic and ADHD, I am definitely a weaver. I hadn’t come across a more perfect explanation of my communication style until now. I’ve been accused of not being interested, being rude and self centred, which unfortunately is very far from the truth. I don’t understand how to develop a naturally flowing conversation by being a concluder without feeling overwhelmed and panicking. If I have to think of questions to ask I go blank, I can forget the point and I can’t tell when and where the appropriate windows are for the questions when I do think of them.

  13. Have you ever wondered why “storytelling” is such a trendy topic? If this question bothers you and makes you uncomfortable, your perspective on human affairs and your cognitive lens is rather unusual. Are you a model builder or a story teller? https://jornbettin.com/2017/08/22/are-you-a-model-builder-or-a-story-teller/

    Autistic social motivation is deeply rooted in the desire to share knowledge and in the desire to learn. This has big implications for the protocols that are used in autistic communication. In contrast, the societies we grow up in and live in value abstract social status symbols more than developing a shared understanding, and this leads to the communication challenges that define our social experiences. https://neuroclastic.com/2019/10/22/what-can-be-misunderstood-will-be-misunderstood/

    Complexification is the civilised© operating model for normal™ human primates®. I remain an uncertifiable life form in a perfect® world. https://autcollab.org/2021/03/29/rediscovering-the-purpose-of-learning/

    Human mental models are based on past experiences and our unique cognitive profile. This shapes the metaphors that are the building blocks of human thought. Over time every human ends up with a unique set of preferred thinking tools. Some develop and refine these tools consciously, for others it is as subconscious background process. https://ciic.s23m.com/2017/09/28/the-language-of-thought-is-underrated/

    At the most fundamental level each person (and each culture) makes a binary choice regarding the dominant force of life:

    A. Either the world is predominantly a place that has evolved for life to thrive ➜ “Life creates conditions conducive to life.” – Janine Benyus ➜ https://neuroclastic.com/2020/10/20/rediscovering-the-language-of-life/

    B. Or the world is dominated by homo economicus ➜ A W.E.I.R.D. monoculture of competitive games ➜ https://neuroclastic.com/2020/09/01/pathologisation-of-life-and-neurodiversity-in-w-e-i-r-d-monocultures/

    Conclusion: We all weave. But those who only weave in linear language easily get entangled in myths and memes that are continuously perpetuated by those who believe in B. more than in A.

  14. This is so interesting! Thanks for the thought-provoking article. I am dyslexic so thought I’d add my ND perspective.

    Firstly, I think you’d likely consider me a Concluder (as the first line of this post might evidence!) So it was so good to have the Weaver form of conversation explained. I have a friend with autism who hates it when I ask direct questions (such as ‘what’s your favourite computer game?’) and he often doesn’t answer me. I realise now perhaps because I’m messing up the carefully woven conversation. This has really helped me to think about how I can approach our conversations in a more nuanced, sensitive way.

    As someone who is dyslexic I find that I wander all over the place when speaking about something and come back to points that were made a couple of hours ago or go off topic when someone asks me a question only to return to it later. As my memory isn’t great, I often interrupt myself as I remember something off-topic that I want to say before I forget. (This also causes me anxiety as I realise it makes me look flakey). I see myself as someone who has many ideas and connected thoughts at once and love the idea of long, thoughtful conversations with no set rules. I see myself as someone who is always analysing during a conversation, but wonder whether that still resides under the ‘Concluder’ umbrella? As someone with dyslexia, memorising names, quotes and facts is a total nightmare for me and for that reason I wouldn’t make a very good Weaver! I admit I therefore often find it frustrating and boring when others rely heavily on names and quotes in a conversation. Having said that, I do love it when other people share facts with me as I love learning from them!

    Thinking about Supertramp’s comment about his friend’s form of communication being a “standard way of socialising for [educated] men”, I’d be interested to know if gender creates some differences here too, based on society’s expectations of how men and women use language and therefore the interactions each are rewarded for. Your stubbing the toe scripts also made me think about this issue. Is the use of facts and declarative statements rewarded more if your male? Is asking others questions and showing NT ‘empathy’ for others rewarded more in women?

    Anyway, thanks again!

  15. I think I used to be a weaver and now work hard to be a concluder. When I get on a favorite topic or feel free to speak, i meander. I feel like I’ve withdrawn from weaver so much that I can’t do it often anymore, but I’m not able to be a good concluder so I just have poor relationships and social anxiety.

  16. This reminds me of plenty of conversations I’ve had with other visual artists…we’re weavers. This is how we talk. I plan to read more responses later. My husband and I were raised in a time where there were no diagnoses, however we do have an autistic son. Since it’s an inheritable condition the writing is on the wall. I would say he is a concluder, while I’m the weaver. I have worked very hard over the years to communicate well. My husband was a high school and college debater.

    1. Cyncha, I was also a high school and college debater. I’m a concluder too.

  17. Interesting article. I recognise myself in it as a weaver. I can do both communication styles, but the weaver style comes more naturally. I’ve developed the concluder style to mask, but it doesn’t feel so much like my natural way of communicating.

    I don’t like when people pick apart what I’m saying and go too much into it. It can feel intrusive at worst, like they are trying to debate my personal experiences. I don’t mind questions if they come from a genuine place of curiosity, but I don’t like when people do it in a way that feels like they are just trying to extract information out of me.

    I love conversations in depth and detail where people really listen to each other, rather than pursuing a certain end goal. When people get too caught up in trying to make a point or have a debate, I feel like they don’t really hear what I’m saying and it becomes difficult to listen to them as I then also get caught up in trying hard to get my point across. That’s where it begins to feel exhausting and unpleasant.

    Weaver style conversations feel relaxed, like there’s no pressure to respond in a certain way and they’re just flowing. They are not confined within a certain structure, but there’s a free flow and creativity to them which means they don’t really get boring. Concluders might find them boring or confusing, but as a weaver I could just go on forever. The conversations can feel like a work of art.

    1. I’ve observed the sorts of conversation that you are talking about and I agree they are a work of art. As a concluder, it feels like I stand on the outside looking in and have wished to be a part of the creation but had no idea how to engage. I have had a lot of weavers in my life and I feel like a real outsider or that I can’t ‘lighten up’ when I find myself in these scenarios.

  18. I’m happy to see that the term concluder doesn’t seem to rattle self-identified concluding-inclining folks! I love Jorn’s story-telling / model-building parse, and its dimensionality. I’m intellectually inclined to disassemble models rather than to build them, though I’m very impressed by those who do the latter. While just the smell of a story tends to shut my system down, much to the frustration of my storytelling friends.

    1. In my experience the greatest flows of valuable knowledge and questions happen when people share and compare models and related experiences / examples. In our culture storytelling has been hijacked by politicians and corporations with interests that usually stand in opposition to the needs of local communities.

  19. Thank you thank you thank you! As a concluder I will get to the point, haha, this article has blown my mind. My mother is a weaver and I FINALLY understand why for 53 years I have frequently left our conversations feeling unheard, unappreciated and generally frustrated. You have just saved me $1000’s in therapy and more importantly given me an understanding from which to create a better relationship. I am sharing this article far and wide.

  20. You’ve described exactly how my oldest son and I communicate – constant quotes and references and inside jokes

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