Different voices / negative feelings

  • Different voices express, on the one hand, socially acceptable communication, and on the other, how the person actually feels.
  • Instead of different voices, the person may use a  “good puppet” and a  “bad puppet”.
  • Rejection of “unacceptable feelings” can lead to projection of negative affect and loss of sense of self in adulthood.
  • We really need to take notice of how the person is feeling by acknowledging their negative feelings and using the words they do as a template – (“I want to hit Phoebe” – “you must feel you want to hit Phoebe”). In doing so, we can support the person to re-centre their sense of self.
  • Validating the person’s negative feelings can reduce their stress and negative behaviour rather than increasing it.
  • Do not ask questions as they add to sensory overload.
  • Behavioural strategies which fail to acknowledge the person’s negative affect may increase their feeling that they have lost their sense of self.


This series of short films shows an extended conversation  between Phoebe Caldwell (DSc, Expert Responsive Communication Practitioner who has worked with autistic people for 45 years) and Janet Gurney (BA, PGCT, Director of Training for Us in a Bus, a service based in Surrey that supports adults and children with profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism).