It’s so hard for our loved ones to understand what “appropriate” means.
It’s hard for anyone with social challenges to understand what it means. That’s because that meaning is so fluid. Pajamas are appropriate at bedtime, but not in the movie theater. Dancing works in the right setting, but not in the grocery store. Singing is a joyful noise that brings a smile… but not in the classroom during a test.
The list goes on.
Sometimes – okay, who am I kidding? Often – people don’t understand this phenomenon. It’s too “weird” for them. As a parent, it gets old seeing that shocked face telling me what my son – gasp – did today.
If someone doesn’t understand what just “isn’t done”, then they might do that thing. Their shoes might not match their purses. They might wear white after labor day. They might stand on a chair in the middle of class (the view’s pretty good from up there). Good heavens. The world will come to an end!
Sometimes (often), it gets old dealing with this, and I forget that it’s new to these adults, these caregivers. That they’ve never experienced it before and are expressing shock not for my benefit, but because they’re confused and don’t know what to do.
And they really want an explanation that makes sense.
I let an opportunity slip by the other day. Tired of shocked people, I just didn’t react at all to a teacher’s wide eyes and amazement.
I guess I’ve reached that jaded stage. Shame on me.
Now, I feel bad about it. I should have explained. I should have calmly made it clear that “appropriate” is a difficult concept for autistic children to understand, since its meaning changes so often. I think she would not only have appreciated this reassurance, but that she would have spread the word. And then more teachers and people would understand.
But I calmly ignored it. As if she was exhibiting bad manners, and I was pretending not to see.
So, if I talk too much about other people’s problems, or blame others for not being understanding, my apologies. Last week, I was the insensitive one.
Nobody – least of all me – is perfect.
Hopefully, next time – and yes, there will be a next time – I’ll remember to be calm and reassuring, and spread the word. Hopefully, it will sink in and hit just the right chord. Hopefully, that teacher will understand and pass along her wisdom to others.
And then we’ll all benefit.