The man who raised me gave me good advice for my lifetime. Not only was he a twenty -five year Army veteran (having been in the trenches in Vietnam), he was also born in 1932. What he had to say about life was of much more value than any baby Boomer parent could have ever offered me.
The most valued words were his advice and views on my being a mixed race child. Growing up in the 30s, in the deep south no less, as a black man, he had a different viewpoint than most as I was growing up. From personal relationships to business matters, he had wisdom on what to expect regarding the human condition that popular media and society at large wasn’t dishing out.
Without spending time knocking out pages of specifics, I’ll jump to one single point. He always stressed my needing to be “better than most people” in all that I could, whenever I could.
He had predicted certain troubles and obstacles coming at me from both sides as an adult. As a modern 80’s child I rejected what he had to say. Decades later, I’m grateful for the hardships I avoided by taking his advice to heart.
It’s something I decided to try to teach my children.
I “being on the spectrum” with an ASD as I am, naturally, I had offspring who inherited similar tendencies from me-whether in part or in whole.
We, now deemed “ASD” folk, have been around for a very long time.
Whether there is an actual case of growing numbers or simply an uptick of incidents being reported , it’s beyond my paygrade to know. I just know that we’ve been here and have managed to make our way in life with the rest of our beautiful and also broken neighbors.
My father’s advice on “being better…” can certainly be of good benefit to my and others’ diagnosed children.
People have a hard enough time distinguishing the differences between the most simple of things as it is…never mind intricate conditions.
The fact we’ve been blatantly and officially listed as “mentally ill” means a lot.
One of the facts becoming lost is that we come in many variations (as all humans do).
Oh, people say the words about “equality” and things about us all being “the same” with a tear in their eyes and hands patting each other’s backs, sure.
But truthfully, there’s only so far an average human being is willing to imagine about a person’s abilities when the label “mental illness” is attached.
Certain characteristics and unusual habits are present in all sorts of groups, but they’re not groups currently being scrutinized and paraded in front of a panic stricken public.
The one tendency I have witnessed, struggled with and engaged in (though I was a teenager when I last did) from the spectrum involves this famous “fear of confrontation.”
What most won’t be aware of is that it leads to many choosing to engage in a certain behavior which unnerves many people. Even people with ASD.
It’s the habit of telling lies and sneaking in and around people’s lives (without permission or knowledge) to gain information otherwise not easily gotten. The telling lies part is often done for the purpose of misleading other people into a false sense of comfort so that they “tell truths they wouldn’t tell otherwise”.
It’s one of the most embarrassing tendencies I believe any human being above the age of seven can be engaged in.
I understand whole heartedly. Having had a horrid understanding at “reading” people and ending up on the ugly end of ridicule or abuse, as a young girl, I thought it was the only way I could defend myself. Better yet, to be ready for something before it could happen.
Many of us are graced with notably above average IQs; making up for the deficit in socialization.. in a poetic and useless kind of way.
As a result, we can tend to hatch intricate schemes quite a bit. Unfortunately, what we fail to realize is when we indulge in deception in matters of personal relationships…we aren’t as “invisible” as we convince ourselves we are. We end up ruining much more than what little was gained.
This is one of the disturbing behaviors which stigmatize us further into the category of “unsociable”( termed by the polite) and “creepy”(termed by the rest).
All it takes is one time for someone to be holding tangible proof of an obvious untruth and witness the liar calmly continue the lying .. to earn a permanent reputation of being “wrong in the head” or “avoided at all costs because if they can lie about something that simple or stupid…?”
All it takes is one time for a room mate to show the hidden video coverage of you sneaking through his belongings in the dorm, while he and your (former) friends in their open mouthed horror wonder why on earth couldn’t you have simply asked..to be seen as an inhumane and unsuitable companion. Or a joke.
It would do our children a world of good to learn the importance of humility when tackling this behavior.
Bright eyes and genius test scores or not, to take other human being’s intelligence for granted by purposefully misdirecting them for selfish gain is an ugly thing to do. It is no better than groups of children at school who whisper, point and giggle at the target of their gossip. As if she or he doesn’t have eyes or somehow has forgotten how the children have been treating her or him the entire year anyway.
No person deserves to be insulted when they haven’t harmed anyone nor given any cause to be deceived.
Somewhere along the way we’ve ceased stressing this to our children; ASD children being naturally expected to not care for others are at a greater risk of it not being taught at all.
With the “lack of empathy” reputation many people will be unaware that many of us can and do learn to respect how we make others feel.
Taking the time to introduce the foundation of humility will go far towards keeping them grounded. It is certainly worth a shot if only to lessen the notion of how “cold hearted” we “are” as a people .
Especially as terms “lack of empathy” and “loner” continue to be associated with criminal profiles and crimes with increased frequency in the media.
Life’s going to be tough anyway, I would say to an ASD young man or woman.
Life has never been that fair nor have the people who’ve lived in it.
People are going to have opinions and assumptions of you that will embarrass you. They will say things out loud that you won’t believe they said to your face. But it’s only because these things will have been said by the media and experts unchallenged for years.
You will be insulted by some who will treat you as if you’re unable to do or say the most simple of things, without knowing how bright you actually shine and how tough you truly are.
Learning to be humble will help you learn that not everyone is going to try to learn how to respect other people. Hopefully, you also learn to respect that it’s their choice to do as they wish, that it has nothing to do with you.
Humility will help you learn a little something about it being okay if you don’t know everything about a person. It’s not your right to. Just like it’s not their right to invade your privacy uninvited.
You gain nothing from sneaking and/or deceiving others except maybe a private moment of how clever you must be. A sense of superiority that means nothing and should mean nothing when you become a grown adult, because of what you risk.
You can either be content at “being in the dark” or you can opt for being known as a creep…a sneak…dangerous…untrustworthy. And if your lie was so painfully obvious, in part due to things like signals from your body language that you’re unaware of, you will risk the humiliation of being seen as a “moron”. Often times, depending on how long you insist on playing such games, for the rest of your life.
Like I said, life is hard enough. The last thing you need to do is be the one to paint yourself in such a humiliating way.
Being humble, most simply of all, will at least help you understand that neither you nor anyone else is ever guaranteed to be “that smart” at any given time. You are , however, too smart to risk so precious much for something so trivial.
You’re better than to spend your life that way;
being seen this way, as a weasel or some lowly creature.
Instead of as a proud and decent human being, the way you should be seen. The way you are.
If you are compelled to manipulate in such a way because of something bad they did in the first place, then you need to know that you’re certainly worth making better friends with better people.
Then I’d show them an article like this one:
It’s a perfect summary of the personal damage they can do to themselves by lying and basically padding the odds of them becoming despised and eventually alone.
A fate no parent wants for their child-not in this world or the times fast coming.
photo By Robert Mizerek