Wednesday, October 21, 2009

stand and deliver

Every once in awhile, a person's completely reasonable and innocent comment about something else altogether brings Martin's autism into dramatic relief. Take for instance a conversation I heard about new folks in our neighborhood. Someone mentioned a new resident, very studious, living in a nearby tiny house. She related her efforts to say hello and be welcoming to the new neighbor, along with the strange rebuffs she received. "She just looks away from us and walks on. It's so weird." She's right. It is kinda weird. Maybe even rude. But the first thing I thought was that the new neighbor might be on the spectrum. Maybe it's really hard for her to look into the eyes of a stranger and say hello.

I don't mean to read everything through the lens of my kid's condition. The new neighbor might just be rude or weird or both. But that relatively innocent conversation - in which the speaker expressed a natural reaction to the situation - reminded me of how fraught new interactions can be. I am so used to all of Martin's strange habits. Once you get used to them, they become quite charming. But there's a world full of people who Martin has yet to meet. And most of them will expect the standard social graces. It's not clear right now that Martin will be able to deliver.

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