More on Manners

Last week, Gracie’s favorite blue pencil disappeared off her desk while she was at school.  Her teacher later found it under one of the “reading time” mats, snapped in half.  Gracie was of course inconsolable, not merely because her favorite pencil had been broken, but because she didn’t know who had made this intrusion into the realm of her personal possessions and why.

Today, we learned that the cause of the favorite blue pencil’s demise was Gracie’s allistic classmate (I’ll call her “Allie”).  Allie’s story is that she accidentally sat on Gracie’s pencil and broke it.  Fair enough.  But when asked why she hid the pencil instead of admitting her mistake, Allie said the following three incomprehensible things:

  • “I didn’t want to hurt Gracie’s feelings.”
  • “I didn’t want to get in trouble.”
  • “What’s the big deal?  It’s only a pencil.”

The first one is so ludicrous that Gracie’s teacher (and I) think it must be an outright lie.  Not telling Gracie what happened – letting her think she simply lost her pencil, then letting her suffer with the knowledge that someone had violently intruded on her personal property – is a far, far worse intrusion on Gracie’s feelings than being forthright.  Even allistic children should be capable of understanding that!

The second statement simply makes no sense.  Even if she bizarrely believed she would get in trouble for breaking Gracie’s pencil (assuming it really was an accident), surely Allie knew she would be in trouble for lying.  Why court trouble to avoid trouble?  It’s utterly illogical.

And I still don’t know what to make of the third statement, other than that it strikes me as classically allist in nature.  A pathological inability to form attachments or associations would seem to indicate that a child would be more likely to assume something was “only” an object, independent of its owner in any conceivable way.  It’s eerily sociopathic, but that sort of eerie sociopathy does seem to be the norm for many allistic children – hence why so many of them are unable to function in normal society.

Gracie, of course, was able to regain her equilibrium when she knew the truth about what happened to her pencil.  But that Allie….  Whenever I think I have allism figured out, a person with allism does something incomprehensible again


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