Communication Minefield

While subbing as an aide in a school gym, I was approached by a 5th grade girl who pointed to her friend sitting beside her on the floor and said, “She told me you were old.”

One of my struggles of living on the autisms spectrum is having a slow response time in conversations.  I don’t think quick on my feet.  The first thing that pops out of my mouth is one I’d usually like to take back after I have had sufficient time to come up with a far better response.

This was a rare occasion when I had a good answer though.  It even surprised me that it came out of my mouth right on the spot.  I told the 5th grader, “Tell your friend that maybe she will GET to be old someday.”  The girls just looked at one another with their eyes like saucers, mouths wide open, with an expression of “what the heck”.  I enjoyed so much in getting the last word that I forgot all about being offended.  HA!

My struggle on the job isn’t tying a child’s shoes.  It’s understanding that’s what a child wants when a child asks without sticking their foot out. It is a struggle interacting with human beings, pint-sized included.  The school ground, like so many other places, is a communication minefield.

Such as I have a tendency to take what someone says literally.  I often miss their true message unless they finally give up on  me and say literally what they should have said in the first place.  A simple example is someone saying “we need to ….”.  The person really means “ME” instead of “we”.

This reminds me of another student in another school gym who came up to me and asked, “If you don’t drink water, can you get sick?”  I had her repeat that twice.  HA!  It was one of those one-of-a-kind questions.  I just never know what a child approaching me is going to say.  My answer wasn’t just a simple yes.  I elaborated too much.  She responded with, “Well, when I don’t drink water, I don’t get sick.”  This child was making me want to go somewhere and pace the floor, or sit and do some rocking or bite my nails.  I told her she’d get sick if she didn’t drink water after so many days.

That’s when she finally got to the point of the conversation.  She asks, “Can I go get a drink of water?”

Kids…you gotta love ’em!








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