Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Every Person Counts

An example of the fundamental mismatch between social expectations and Asperger behavior comes from my own childhood. My mother was socially conscious; my father was Asperger. My mother was upset whenever my father did something that did not further her social goals, such as his habit of talking to the ‘wrong people.’ Wherever we went, my father would disappear for a few minutes because he was bored or tired of waiting. I was usually sent to find him, and invariably he would be chatting with a stranger as if he had come upon a long lost friend. This infuriated my mother. Why would my father waste his time with nobodies like mechanics or janitors or poor people? She never understood that my father saw human beings as existing on an equal plane and that interest in another person can have no more motive than the pleasure of chewing the fat. It didn’t matter that my father had no prior relationship to the person; it didn’t matter that he would not see him or her again. Amazingly, my father would often find out within a few minutes more in-depth information about a person’s life than my supposedly empathetic ’people person’ mother could be bothered with. 
I often went missing too, becoming wrapped up in the impromptu conversation between my father and the stranger. I learned a great deal from these encounters, not only about wrong judgments about how people look, but that every person counts, regardless of their social status.


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