In Russia, where I grew up, mathematicians were celebrated. Chess was taken seriously. People were uniformly obsessed with the common cultural rituals, like the morning gymnastics, like every meal starting with soup and proceeding to potatoes.
The man-child – overachieving in his field but apparently unable to demonstrate even the most basic self-care competency – was common.
Is there such a thing as an autistic culture – where the neurotypicals feel subfunctional?
“Ugly mug “
“Poo poo Troll Face”
I’d been ignoring the rising volume on the back seat while navigating tricky motorway traffic, but it really wasn’t getting better. Time for parenting.
“Don’t call your brother Fatso”
“He called me Troll Face”
“Don’t call your brother Troll Face”
“Trolls are beautiful creatures. What have you got against trolls??”
“That’s not what he meant. Muuuuum. And why is he…”
Not winning really. I turned the music up extremely loud, drove them home in enforced silence and sat them down to write essays.
One was titled: “Calling my brother an Ugly Mug: What did I expect would happen? What did happen. How did he feel? How did you feel?” . It was returned saying “I expected him to stop namecalling. He called me a troll. We are now both angry”.
The other one was titled: “Calling my brother Idiot: What did I expect would happen? What did happen. How did he feel? How did you feel?”. It was returned with two A4 sides of grievances about sibling alliances and lack of appreciation for efforts made for other people.
Wish me luck sorting that out.
Funeral Etiqutte on What to Do:
1. Go. Attend the funeral in person. Miss weddings and baby showers if you must but attend the funerals. People never forget that you attended a funeral and you will bring them comfort and care even if you stay a little while.
2. Wear strictly black
3. Express your sincere condolences directly to the immediate family.
4. Share a story or a memory with the close family. You will be adding to their treasure “box” of memories.
5. Be on your best behavior. Take along your best manners of greeting and conversing.
6. Contribute to the charity or foundation of their wishes or else take flowers. The amount does not matter. It matters that you do not show up empty-handed.
7. Follow the wishes and traditions of the family. I am not religious but for weddings and funerals of those that I care about, I would gladly spend any necessary time in their house of worship.
8. Perform any favors that is asked of you, be it to sing, to read a poem, to fulfill any other action to fulfill their wishes.
Funeral Etiqutte on What Not to Do:
1. Wear flip-flops.
2. Bring up sensitive issues
3. Laugh unnecessarily loud or God forbid, tell jokes.
4. Discuss your body aches and pains
5. Draw attention to yourself. Change the conversation if you must, especially when you don’t want the attention.
6. Say much if you have nothing useful to say. Words, once outside the mouth, cannot be taken back.
Adapted from Prolific Living
This is the list that I edited for my autistic teenager. I find it works best if I explain behaviour expectations very clearly, particularly given that funerals are formal and don't happen very often.
She seemed to appreciate the list and coped well with the day. In hindsight, I would have maybe built in a break and a recap of the rules half way through the day. Right after the service, the body language became more dramatic, and we sat in the car for half an hour so as to not be a distraction while people grieved.
The instruction that she found the hardest was to share a story about the deceased. She just did not feel confident in being able to judge the correct tone. She chose to just be largely silent for the entire afternoon, which was fine.
Squid’s Dad found this excellent little activity book – which had a helpful page with each pony’s special friendship skills. She doesn’t know any of those words – but she knows all those ponies – so it was a nice hook to chat about what makes a good friend.
The great thing about doing ‘social skills’ through the ponies is that it is one step removed. There is no personal judgement of her or her behaviour – she can be the external observer with a birds-eye unemotive view of the ponies. And I’m hoping the theoretical lessons will translate into practical friendship skills. And the darn blighters are so cute it was a nice rainy-day activity in any case.