My son is confused between what we tell him to do at home, and what his teacher tells him at school. To a normal six year year old the directions seem to be conflicting, but for a child with Autism it has to be just mind boggling.
One of the most common challenges for those with Autism is a delayed or limited understanding of social interaction.
Most need to be taught how to read someone’s face to understand emotions: mouth turned up means smile which means happy and tears with mouth down is sad. Some don’t want to be touched, some are the opposite and don’t understand personal space. Those that are verbal tend to talk exclusively and repeatedly about one topic (for us, Ninja Turtles) whether or not the listener is interested or not. And almost all of them have a difficulty making eye contact with people they are talking to.
Pay attention to other people:
J understands that other people exist, but he can be completely oblivious to them when he is focused. He will run right through kids and parents to get to line when the bell rings and not even notice he might have hurt them on his way. In his mind, the bell rang and he needs to go to line immediately.
In his role playing games, he tells people EXACTLY what to say and how to say it. He doesn’t understand that people might want to say something different. We are working on it.
Mind your own business: He loves to work on the computer at school. Unfortunately, when it is another group’s turn on the computers he wants to see what they are doing. In my time volunteering I have seen him get up from my activity and walk over to look over someone’s shoulder at the computer.
He is not alone:
I know he is not the only one his age that does one or the other or both things.
The other day a student had the computer a little loud and I had to repeatedly remind the students to focus on my activity. If someone comes in to the room all eyes follow that person around the room to find out why they are there.
And the boys especially, will bump and push in line not noticing that they are stepping on each other or pushing someone in to someone else.
J, and probably his other classmates too, hear “pay attention to other people” BUT “mind your own business”.
It is a fine line that many adults cross regularly. But, like the other social interactions we need to keep teaching him the subtleties and hope we don’t confuse him too much.