Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Do It 'Cause They Told Me To?" or "Do It 'Cause No One Told Me Not To"

So, I know kids with Asperger's are often picked on or made fun of, but I always have to wake myself up a little more when problems arise at school.

A big problem for MJ is that kids will tell him to do things at school, which aren't the smartest, and he'll just do them without thinking twice.

One day I got a note home from his teacher explaining that MJ had gotten into a lot of trouble during lunchtime. Apparently, MJ had been chosen to help with the lunch staff, and he was supposed to be wiping off tables with a rag along with another student. The other student comes up to MJ and says, "Squeeze the rag over my head and get me wet." And so MJ does it, and then the kitchen staff sees him and he gets into a lot of trouble.

I ask MJ about this, and he seems confused that he would get in trouble since the other kid told him to do it. I asked my husband this also, and was enlightened that he wouldn't think either, he would just do as instructed. (Well, not now, but when he was in school.)

I added this to another problem that we've discovered. Although they take everything literal and don't understand the underlying meaning if not spoken to directly, it seems they also don't understand when someone says to do something directly, that it shouldn't always be taken literally and followed. (How confusing, right? I mean, I'm not an Aspie, and it seems confusing to me!)

So how do I explain to them what to do? Obviously they have learned through experience. My husband is not going to drip a rag on someone's head now, although he says he would have acted the same way years ago. My husband learned after much error that you shouldn't always do what your peers tell you to do.

I explain to MJ that just because someone tells you to do something, that you don't always have to do it. Especially if it is not an adult and if it is not a good thing. Now I, myself sit here and think, well, gee, of course we shouldn't be dripping rags on people's heads, but MJ doesn't understand all these social rules and reason. I mean, why not? Why should it matter?

As my husband explains to me that the way they think it is different. Like why not say this or that or act in this certain way? I am always reminded by it when MJ comes out with a striped shirt and camo pants that are way off together and I try to explain to him why he can't wear that. Aspies don't see reason for social norms or rules. It seems dumb to them almost.

When I've gone to people's homes or different places I have an awful time with MJ going through their houses or a business in different rooms uninvited or areas where he shouldn't be, and he doesn't understand why that is bad. When we are at a doctor's office, my own husband is opening every cupboard and going through every drawer like it is just natural and fine to do whatever out of curiosity's sake. Drives me nuts!!!

I've had to sit down with MJ and tell him that he needs to think of the world as a "Don't Touch, Do Not Enter unless told to do so or invited" place. He doesn't understand why it should matter, (back to the whole not understanding ways of the world and nonspoken social rules) but I just tell him he needs to do this. Don't go in people's bedrooms when we go over to see someone and we're sitting in the living room. Don't go behind the storage area of stores. Just don't. Don't touch anything unless you are told you can do so!

This is frustrating, but the other is more worrisome. The whole "Do it 'cause they told me to" thing bothers me. I guess I need to sit here and think of every little scenario and tell MJ that this or that is bad and to never do it if someone tells him to, but I can't think of everything! I suppose my greatest responsibility will come to talk about drugs, sex, violence, stealing, etc, but all these little things we'll just have to learn as we go.

This is the difference in an Aspie that I see almost the greatest. I think it is just common sense that you should do this or that, or not stick your nose into other people's places or business, or not do stupid things if someone suggests it. To an Aspie, they don't see why a lot of things would be stupid, or not, or wrong, or weird, or socially wrong. It's just another day and another experience. Most of us can just learn the social know-how as we grow and mature, but an Aspie never quite picks up on it without a little bit extra of instruction, or learning by mistake, or as my husband tells me, there are hundreds of things he doesn't even realize that he shouldn't be doing according to the "social norm".

Again I always fall back to what is the reasoning for this "social norm" anyway? I mean, so what if we wear mismatching clothes or say what's on our mind or do stupid things sometimes? It does add some variety and spice in life. But yes, I guess it isn't always taken with such appreciation.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

My son who is 10 sounds a lot like yours. He also has ADHD. When I need an example for his teachers on his "literalness" I tell this story. Last year in my sons gifted class the teacher told him that when he completes a timed activity he may go play on the computer while he waits for everyone else to finish. A couple of weeks after this she came to me and said his work had gone downhill. His handwriting was messier (and its pretty bad to begin with)and there were incorrect answers when she knew he knew the correct answer. I looked at her and told her " you didn't tell him it had to be neat and you didn't tell him it had to be correct. Only that he had to be finished" she just looked at me. lol