How They Talk – Best Friends and Autism
Articles,  Blog

How They Talk – Best Friends and Autism

– So, this is Summer, and this
is my daughter’s best friend. Now, Abigail, if you’re not familiar, Abigail is 14, she is nonverbal. She’s never spoken a word
in her life, she has autism. Summer is, how old are you, 22 now? – Mm-mm, 21.
– 21, still 21. (Summer laughs) Summer is 21, and she’s a college student, and she’s obviously verbal, and all that, but they have a special
way of communicating, and I’ve been talking
about making this video for a long time, it actually
turned out way different than I thought it would. So, you guys don’t
communicate differently. You do, but you don’t.
(Summer laughs) She says the same things
to you that she says to us, but her communication is
way different with you than it is with parents, or even with her brother, for that matter. – Yeah, 100%.
(upbeat music in background) Can I sit here? – You want the pillow? – So, that’s the thing is I
thought we would find something like just amazing and groundbreaking, but really what I found
by watching you guys communicate is it’s very typical. – Right. – And I gotta come
clean, I gotta be honest. When we first started calling you our daughter’s best friend, it very… It was cute, and she
reacted differently to you than she did other people,
but I didn’t see it as a traditional best friend relationship, but now, I’m like, yeah, I
mean, that’s how you guys communicate, is like best friends. When she communicates
with us like parents, it’s crazy how typical it is
in a very nontypical situation. I mean, let alone the fact
of her developmental delay and her autism, you also
have seven years on her. – [Summer] Yeah, even though
I’m technically a caregiver, even when I’m doing caregiver things, her and I don’t look at it that way. Does that make sense? I don’t know, it’s hard to explain, but it’s not the same dynamic as when y’all are getting
her ready in the morning versus when I am, you know? She looks at it like, “Oh,
my gosh, we’re getting ready “for the day, us girls.” – [Asa] Right. – [Summer] But versus
when it’s with y’all, it’s like, “Okay, we’re
getting ready for school, “let’s just get it over and done with.” – And that’s what kind of hit me, especially since you moved in. Summer moved in, she’s
going to college here, if you’re just meeting us.
(Summer laughs) So, she moved in, we’ve known her for a long time as a family friend, but that’s something that I noticed, too, that at first, I thought it
was just, you’re more fun, you’re more easy going than parents are, so she has more fun. But then I realized, it’s
seriously like girl time. She enjoys that time with you, and then, a respite worker that
we have for Abigail, Becca, and Becca’s your friend, same thing there. You guys go out and hang
out, just as the girls. So, let’s say Abigail’s requesting
something to eat from us, verus something to eat from you, or requesting to go somewhere or whatever, what is the difference between us and then how she does it with you. – I think the difference is first, I think that she requests
a lot more things with me, and I think that because part
of she wants those things, but also, just wanting
to be able to have that communication, I mean,
that’s the only really things that she can talk about are
the couple modified signs that she has, so when she’s
trying have girl talk, and hang out together, that’s all she has, so she’ll tap on me and laugh, and I’ll see food, and I’m just like, “No, we’re not gonna have good now.” Or she’ll ask me to go
in the cart for 20 times, after we just got home
from being on the cart. But I totally feel like it’s
a, “Hey, girl, how you doing? “What are you doing on your phone? “What TikTok you watching? “Can you change the music for me “so we can listen to a
different Justin Bieber song?” It’s so different, so. – That makes sense, when you’re sitting around with girlfriends, or guys sitting around together,
none of your conversations have depth and have meaning, sometimes you’re just
talking to socialize. And I think you’re right,
and it’s what she’s doing, she’s like, “Hey, golf
cart,” and you’re like, “No,” and she’s like, “Okay.” (Summer laughs)
– Yeah, exactly. – And it’s just this fantastic
little back and forth that you guys have. So, what is different than
between just the communication? I know that Isiah communicates
differently with his friends than he does with us, does that
exist as well with Abigail? – Yeah, I do, I think that even though she doesn’t have words, but even
if when you’re with somebody for a long time, like Becca and I, we say a lot of the same things at the same exact time, it’s like that. Abigail will look at me and I know exactly what she’s thinking, like “Let’s go run upstairs real fast. “I’m gonna try and wrestle you
because I want to wrestle,” or I don’t know, there’s different looks, and I know that’s hard to explain. – [Asa] No, it’s an unspoken language, I think everybody has that when they spend a lot of time of
time around each other. – [Summer] Right, you look at somebody and you can just tell,
“Oh, go look at what’s “happening over there,” just by a look. So, it’s like that with her and I. – So, the language and the communication that you guys have, that’s different than it is between us and her. It’s almost like, like I said, when Isiah’s hanging out with his friends, he talks differently with his
friends than he does with us. I think everybody has that, no matter what your level
of communication is. She’s definitely behaves
differently around you. So, since we’re being honest, there’s always that…
(sighs) I wish she was as happy around us as she is around her
friends, around Summer. And then really, again,
with you moving in here, I was like, “Okay, this makes sense.” Every teenage girl is
happier around their friends, hanging out with their friends, than they are with their parents. That just makes sense, so
it was that reassurance. And another thing that I was like, “This is a legit friendship.” And you have lots of other
friends and stuff like that, and she does, too, she has other people that I would consider her friends, but you are definitely her best friend. You’re her bestie. So, it’s awesome that she has that, so I’m okay with her
(Summer laughs) being happier around you, that’s normal. It’s how it should be. So, has anybody ever
thought that it was bizarre, or do you think it’s strange at all that you guys are such good friends? Beyond the caregiver side of things, beyond the fact that you
live in the same house, do you think find it odd? – [Summer] I’ve had a couple people, ’cause there’s a lot of explaining
when it comes to Abigail just because she’s not related
to me, people are like, “Wait, you live there with
them, but you’re not family?” But they do think it’s odd, but once I explain it, they’re
like, “Oh, that makes sense.” And then it changes also
when I bring friends here who have never met her. They see her, and they
see my relationship, and they’re like, “Oh,
that makes perfect sense.” It just goes, it just makes sense. So, people do think it’s
odd, but once you explain it, they understand the way she communicates and the way her brain works,
it all comes together. – Well, and friendship can be based on an intellectual level as well. People do need an intellectual,
level playing field to associate with sometimes,
as far as friendships and people that they associate with. But you don’t have to have that in every single person either,
’cause obviously you guys are not cognitively at the same level, but you get that from other people, just like she gets it from her friends at school and stuff like that, being at level playing
field with other people. But I think that maybe had
answered a lot of questions as far as people that
have been watching us for a long time, how
that relationship works, and it explains a lot,
it’s really much simpler than you might think it is. – Right. – They like each other as people. – And we just hang out, even
though she doesn’t have words, one of my closets- I feel close to her, I feel
like she feels close to me. It doesn’t matter that she
doesn’t say actual words. She makes lots of noises, so that kind of makes
up for it anyways, so. – Love needs no words.
– Love needs no words. – March, oh, I’m not wearing that shirt. – Neither am I.
(Asa laughs) I have an OG Fathering
Autism shirt on though. (laughs) – Well, thank you for being her friend. – Of course! – It means the world to us. And thank you guys for watching, I hope this helped to
explain a lot of things and you got to see all that
super cute communication between the two of ’em. – Bye, guys.
– Bye. (beeping) – What’s up? All done, you want me to be all done here? (Abigail hums agreement) You want me to take a break? (Abigail hums agreement)
You do? Okay, I’ll come with you. You want me to come with you? (Abigail hums agreement) You want me to come sit with you? (laughs)
Okay. (Abigail laughs) (Abigail yelling happily) (heavy footsteps)
(laughing) (Abigail groans) (Summer laughs)
He’s still right there. (laughing) (Abigail verbalizing)
(laughs) We’re gonna go eat dinner with Grandpop (Abigail excitedly verbalizing) (clapping)
(laughs) and Grandmom in a little bit. (Abigail laughs) Can I sit? I can’t sit? Oh, okay, no?
(Abigail laughs) Where’s the, ha! (Abigail laughs) Hey, can I sit now? No! (Abigail laughing) – Later.
(clapping) Can I sit next to you? Thanks.


  • Jillian Howell

    I think about Abbies reaction like 8ish months ago whenever Summer left and Abbie had a full on meltdown (I know..depressing right?) but I think about that reaction because you can so genuinely tell that Summer is her favorite person. Same as her reaction every time Summer goes to pick her up. It’s just so precious❤️

  • gabriella padilla

    This was a great video and I’m glad you made it. And I’m glad summer and Abby have each other she seems to be happy most of the time around her and that’s great. Summer is lucky to have Abby as a friend because she seems like a really fun girl to have as a friend love watching the two of them together. Much love

  • Just another human

    They're more than BFFs, they're like sisters. Heck some biological sisters I know don't even have that strong bond like those two have with each other. It's like it was meant to be.

  • Emmy Zima

    1:26 all best friends do this with eachother and it's adorable to see Abbie and Sumner do it too 😁 I used to be a little confused as to howwhy they are best friends but over the year that I've been following I can now definitely see why. They are a great pair and makes me miss my old best friend. Abbie you are such a beautiful soul and I'm so happy you have such great people surrounding you ❤

  • Lesang Bieliauskas

    This is a very rare and wonderful relationship, I pray that it becomes permanent. Summer and Abbey are lucky to have each other. I am curious how they met ❤️

  • Maureen Ahad

    Abbies eye contact with Summer is awesome, I’ve always thought that people who are autistic have difficulty looking at others straight in the eye. Please correct me if I’m wrong..💜

  • Amanda Bohmler

    Hey Asa, can we get a day in the life of Abbie n Summer? This video is great, I've watched this one 3 times now, but I couldn't concentrate on the voice over interview cuz I was trying to "hear" the clips of the girls! (More of what was after the beep!!!) Watching them reminded me of way back when Summer n Becca took Abbie to make candy.

  • Sassy Boofle

    This definitely should be a huge compliment to summer , before you stated this to everyone I could see that Abbie would generally migrate toward summer when the opportunity was there. And this is hard for autistic people , so I knew that summer was a care giver but I knew there was a certain bond there too . Wonderful and it doesn’t come along often . 👑❤️👍🇬🇧

  • Callie Thompson

    That clip at the end was the perfect example, while Abbie never verbally spoke it was obvious that they were talking as such! So special!

  • Claudia Robinson

    I wish I had a friend like Summer. The world needs more Summers, Beckas, and loving siblings. Abbie, you are a very blessed young lady!! May I borrow Summer to help take care of my finacee after heart surgery? She can come anytime for a 3 day dry run.

  • missinvisible666

    It's really interesting to see the difference in Abbie with different people, it's really nice to see that she has soo many people that genuinely care about her and want to spend time with her. ♥♥

  • Sytske Roskam

    What I recognize about Abbie talking about riding the cart after they having been riding the cart… , having an uncle with a mental handicap, and also being nonverbal is that after activities or a day out he clearly wants to recap, and talk about it. So for example at dinner he starts making loud noises and gestures. For an outsider maybe out of the blue, but for us very clear that he wants to talk about all the things we did together.

  • Christa 777

    As a caregiver for people with autism, watching the interaction between Abbie and Summer is so inspiring. I love the point Summer made about Abbie's signs and how they are "the only thing she has" in terms of initiating conversation and the innate desire to communicate with the ones we love. It doesn't always matter so much WHAT we say; sometimes it's just about reaching out.

  • Marianne lovesbabies

    I am 44 and hav cerebral palsy. My care-givers who hav lleft won't see me, they don't keep in touch. Summer shood hav the best prize ever. I mite hav a speech inpediment but I got a diploma. I don't get y 1 of my carers can't wait 2 retire so that shehis out of my life!

  • Debbie Modesitt

    It is amazing to see them hang out together. When you get close to someone who is nonverbal autistic you do develope your own communication style. I teach swim lessons and one of my students is nonverbal and autistic. I started out doing some ask to be able to understand what she wanted. But as time has gone on we just know what each other wants or is trying to communicate.. I just feel blessed to having had this opportunity.

  • Ajay W

    Summer ur an amazing young lady ur a credit to ur family(and ur “adoptive” family to) The girls have such a strong bond. It’s a strong friendship I’m sure a lot of “neuro typical” ppl wish they had with someone. You understand each other and a whole different level. As always sending you loads of AUsome hugs and love from me over here in England. 💙💪🏻🇬🇧🧩💜

  • Jodi M

    Their relationship is so fun to watch!! This was a great video hearing Summer’s point of view. Thanks for sharing! 🥰

  • Kayla Cempa

    I love this video. ♥️ Thank you so much for sharing this with us Asa. I can tell that Summer really loves Abbie and would go to the end of the earth for her… Not only that Abbie needs that girl time! She loves it. Just two girls bein girls. 😘 I need those leggings Abbie has! I love them so much.

  • Kenneth Robinson

    my brothers non verbal pretty much, after an accident he had when he was 7. i can talk to him without him speaking. he can say yes and no and few other words. I can basically read his mind. just with looks. its a unique special bond. he speaks with us thru dynavox and computer.

  • Timothy Courtemanche

    The dynamics between Abbie, Summer and Becca always leave me smiling, they are just so amazing together! But, you can just see the love and bond between Summer and Abbie, and it’s awesome. Summer, you are such a sweet and beautiful young woman! How did you come to be part of this family? Was it as a respite worker? What is your major?

  • Jessica Strunk

    I love it when you caption her signs. I try to watch for them but they're so subtle sometimes that I miss them. It's helpful to be able to hear/see the conversation between her and whomever she's conversing with.

  • Carmen Weber

    I honestly love this channel!! I enjoy watching this channel a lot!! If I get distracted with YouTube instead of working on school- this channel is worth it!!😂 I love watching and looking forward to see Abigail and this awesome fam and her friends! I’ve been with this channel for a while and I’ve worked at a special needs care center for a few years and volunteered at a special needs camp! I know everyone is different but watching this channel I feel like I get a better understanding what autism is. Seeing how awesome of a relationship Abby has with her bf is really sweet and so cool! It really shows that love and friendship has no specific language it comes down to just spending quality time with others! Honestly, I hope i can get a chance to meet the awesome ppl in fatheringautism one day!

  • Fredrikke Falleth

    Every one need that kind of relationship a person has with a best friend. And it's weary different than that kind of relashenchip you have with family. No matter what disability or ability you have 😊💙💙

  • Wendy Lefever

    I love watching the special relationship between Abbie and Summer. I do have a question about Abbie's communicating. Approximately how many signs does she have, and do you add new signs for her? Also, with her iPad, how many pictures/categories does she have that she can choose from when she is communicating and how do you decide if new things should be added? I have been watching for a while now, and Abbie has just grown so much, she is really becoming a wonderful teenage girl😄❤

  • Fredrikke Falleth

    I now what you mean Summer. I have that kind of best friend connection with someone I work with that have special needs😊. And it don't feel like work when i am with them, just the order stuff around I have to do. If I see that they need my attention or something, I never hurry out the dor if I already is finished at work. I always make time for them, and say goodbye…(so I oftentimes stay a few minutes overtime 😅) It's kind of like I get paid for being with my friends 😂. They are the reason I go to work. You are weary lucky to get to live with your best friend, and get to be together when you want to. I can't do that, I have to separate work with personal life. When you oftentimes want to stay a little longer and heng out 🙄

  • April Graham

    When you aren't even watching a video but still talking about Abbie, she's just a really awesome spirit.Thanks for sharing her with us all. The world is a little bit better with people like her in it. She teaches us how to love and be better people💜

  • YourRyeBread

    Sometimes when im nonverbal i use signs or stuff around me that the first letter is the one i want. Like if i wanted to ask for my lamp be turned off but dont know the sign i might use a sign i do know that starts with the letter im looking for like Lemonade Apple Marker Pants or something that Ab maybe does is know you arent doing something right now but expresses she wants to alot by acting like youre gonna go now. Idk just stuff i relate to

  • Joanne Gipson

    I think it's wonderful that Abbie has these young ladies in her life , you can see the love and friendship between them. I am a respite care worker, and I have to tell you what a wonderful experience I have had working with non-verbal disabled adults. Its so rewarding to see them make progress. I continue to pray for you and your family. 🙏💕

  • Kim Whitehead

    Abbie holds eye contact for such a longer time with Summer. It’s amazing, and a testament to Summer’s empathy and compassion.

  • Abra AWE-bruh Singleton

    Wow… Yeah, that makes sense, Summer. Since Abbie can't do typical girl-talk, but WANTS to be in constant communication with you, she'll sign about what she knows and often repeat herself.

  • Rachel Rodriguez

    I love that Summer respects her boundaries!! it’s really hard to set boundaries, I would assume, so I really love that Summer waited until she “ said “ yes to sit down!! 🥰

  • Anniek

    Is it my imagination, or does Abbie have more eyecontact with summer? And at 1:31 she mimmicked Summer almost perfectly with the turning of her head and making eye contact.
    (It was with the game that summer tried to get her to stick out her tongue. It was clearly visible that Abbie was enjoying the game.)
    Was super cute to watch.

  • Leeza Hayes

    Summer is like a sister to Abbie. A big sis that she looks up to cause shes a girl. I've always loved their connection. Its great!!!!

  • Joseph Bennett

    It would be absolutely amazing if eventually Abby learns a few vocal words and surprises you guys , Abby is incredibly smart and some autistic kids eventually get some words out and overcome most of their autism hopefully Abby turns out like that.

  • HelloImBrettipher

    These videos really get to me. My daughter is almost 4, nonverbal, autistic, with a global developmental delay. She acts exactly like Abby. It’s so emotional to be so connected with someone that you don’t even need words. It’s beautiful 💖

  • Amie Hebekeuser

    Summer is amazing & I think it’s amazing that she’s able to be there everyday!! Huge pat on back for Asa & Priscilla🤍

  • Britt Bee

    I’m big on soul mates. They don’t always have to be a partner it can be a best friend or a sister. The connection they have could have gone on in multiple different life times and in this one they found each other and their souls connected. Soul sisters. Soul mates. Whatever it is there connection is strong. We love to see it!

  • Lynn Clarkson

    People with autism still need friends they just relate differently and translate the world differently. This is a fabulous, uplifting friendship. She is a happy young lady surrounded by a lot of love. Fantastic to see 😊

  • sam phillips

    The love between Summer and Abbie is so beautiful and special! It's adorable, Summer is so loving towards Abbie and it's so wonderful to see them 'communicating' together! It makes me laugh, when Abbie laughs at Summer because you can tell she is really connecting!

  • Simeon Yves

    Hey Guys.

    Oh Boy, this is gonna be a Cute One.

    Hey Abbie 🙂

    Its lovely that Abbie has a Best Friend all for Herself 🙂

    I have noticed that Abbie Communicates with Summer a lot More than She does with anyone Else, She is more likely to Respond Positively, and it seems to Me that Summer is able to get Abbie to do things She otherwise would flat out Refuse to do.

    "Best Friend" sounds right to Me, Abbie and Summer are 100% Classic best Friends for sure.

    Indeed, Summer is a Lot more Fun for Abbie as a Bestie than You are as Her Parents, which makes Her, basically, and No Offense Intended Her, more "Effective" as a Caregiver, as Abbie has a better Time with Summer and is more likely to do a She is asked as a Result 🙂

    I have Noticed that Abbie has Blossomed Since Summer Moved in 🙂 She has come on Miles 🙂

    Yes, Abbie does Seem to Request things from Summer more than from Anyone Else, I had no idea that it was Abbie's Equivalent of "Teen Chat" however, that is Very Interesting Indeed.

    Yes, there are Times You really can just Read Abbie's Thoughts, She is blessed with an Extremely Expressive Face.

    Yes, My Parents say that I am very Different in the way I talk when I am at Respite than I am a Home. At Home I am very Monotonal, very Quiet, very..Subdued and Quite Robotic, at Respite I am very Excitable, Animated, and Enthusiastic, completely Different, as I am with Friends there.

    I think every Parent Wishes that their Teenager was as Happy around themselves as they are around their Friends.

    Yup, Summer is Abbie's BFF for certain.

    Oh You can guarantee there are People who will find Summer and Abbie's friendship Odd, because they either Can't or Won't Understand. 🙁

    Summer is an absolute Wonderful Advocate for Abbie 🙂

    Friendship, I find, is nothing to do with Intellect and is Entirely based upon Emotional Feedback.

    I am actually very Unlikely to be Friends with someone who Is on My own intellectual Level, as, given that they Probably wont have My Developmental Delay, and thus Mental Age of only Ten Years, they are vastly Above Me in Terms of Communication Abilities and Topical Knowledge, and I Personally Find that to be Incredibly Intimidating.

    Indeed, Love needs no Words. This is True of all best Friendships, many best Friends are perfectly Happy, just like Abbie and Summer, just sitting Quietly on a Couch watching Movies, Abbie and Summer had a 100% Typical "Besties" Relationship 🙂

    Well, take care now Guys, Bye 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *