So yesterday morning my autistic daughter called me from school – right as I was about to have my lovely coffee moment – and I wasn’t best pleased.
This better be good, I told her. I’m trying to drink my coffee! It iiiiiis, she whined. I’m sewing the school! You’re what? They’re getting sewed! I’m sewing them!
Through the fog of my pre-caffeinated brain, I somehow got what she meant. You mean you’re suing them? Is that what you mean? Whatever, she shrieked! They’re getting sewed!
So it went on like that for a while, the blind leading the blind. Eventually I got the facts out of her, if you can call them that.
The story is, she got caught lying about having done her homework. She and a bunch of other kids were getting detention for both not doing the homework, and then trying to cover it up. Not all ASD children actually have the ability to fib or be deceptive, but lucky me, mine can!
So she got caught out along with her friends. Doesn’t seem unfair does it? Well here comes the autistic logic – a bunch of her other friends also lied about having done their homework, but they got away with it! The teacher checked some of the kids, but not all of them.
To my daughter’s autistic brain, this was like a horror story! Everyone’s guilty but only some get punished! And to make it worse, she can’t tell the teacher about the others because they’re her friends. Unless you know ASD kids, you may not be able to understand the actual physical pain this kind of double-bind causes in the minds of autistic people.
So I tried to reason with her. Darling, you got caught out! You didn’t do your homework and you got caught! I knooooow! She’s crying now. But, she says, they didn’t either!
It went on like that for another 5 minutes. Going nowhere fast. And there’s no placating her either, because like other autistic kids, she wants to know – IN DETAIL – what I’m going to do, to restore the balance to her black and white world.
By now I’m wide awake, but not in a good way. I try to unpick this for her, so she can function for the rest of her day. I already know saying things like ‘life’s like that’ and ‘too bad, get on with it’ is a major mistake. It just leads to more squawking and confusion. So I tried this:
You didn’t do your homework, did you? No, mum. Your friends didn’t do their homework either, did they? No, mum. Do you still have to do it? I did it in detention.
Have your friends done it? No not yet. So they could still get caught, and they would still have to do it, right? Yes mum. So actually, you’re better off than your friends.
Right? She says, hmmm, meh, bye.
You’re welcome. It was a joy!