Over the last several weeks, I’ve been making some very basic observations about human nature in regard to patience and kindness. I guess that sometimes I get too busy or too bogged down with life to really spend time noticing or thinking about other people’s behaviors, because we have enough “behavior” on our plates to deal with any given day, but lately I’ve been noticing that some people are patient and kind and some are NOT – at least they are not with Ethan.
Now, I know that Ethan can be hard to handle sometimes. While we’ve been diligently working on social behaviors and reactions for 5 years, Ethan still interrupts conversations on occasion; he doesn’t always look at people when he’s speaking with them and he still needs work “filtering” what he says and does before he speaks or acts. I do know these things. And I know that there are other issues, but I get the impression that these are the main things that irritate what I will refer to as the NOT people. And yet, I also know that Ethan is 9. Other 9-year-olds I know (typical kids) are challenged with some of these same issues, too.
So, lately, when Ethan and I are out and about accomplishing our daily tasks – whether it be volunteering in the community, going to the doctor’s office, to the store, to restaurants, to Ethan’s school or even visiting family or friends – I’ve found myself noticing that some people have patience for Ethan and others simply do NOT. Sometimes these NOT people are outright rude (see my post about a rude waitress last summer HERE), but mostly, NOT people are just short and impatient and make it obvious that interacting with Ethan is taxing to them. For the most part, this goes right over Ethan’s head – but I notice.
Maybe I’m developing a tougher skin (after 5 years) or maybe I’m going through a phase of detachment from negative people…but I’m not taking the NOT people’s responses as personally as I used to. Maybe they’re reactions are just human nature? Maybe the bottom line is that some people [in general] are patient and kind and others are…well – they are just – NOT. Something so simple that I know I already knew…but here I am relearning this and realizing that I don’t have to bend over backwards to teach Ethan to “please” this kind of person. The bottom line is that it isn’t possible to “please” this kind of person in most situations but I think that’s exactly what I’ve done in the past; I’ve gone above and beyond to try to teach Ethan how to be a people pleaser (because that tends to be my nature).
But, I’m done with that. Ethan is not going to be a “people pleaser” – that is clear. So, from today forward I will continue to teach Ethan to be respectful and kind. I will teach him (and model for him) how to be patient. We will continue to work on being thoughtful of other people. Yes, I will continue to do all these things and more, but I refuse to let the NOT people get me (or him) down. I’m done with that.
Leigh Attaway Wilcox is Editor in Charge of the internationally acclaimed AutismSpot.com and her work can be found on many of the pLDNetworks sites. Leigh is the author of ALL BETTER: A Touch-and-Heal Book published by Piggy Toes Press in 2007 (now available for digital download via Moving Picture Books). Leigh lives in North Texas with her husband and young son who loves reading, LEGOs, Mario Bros. and also happens to live with Asperger's Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder.