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On Acting Normal (Part One)

It may seem stramge. but i spent most of my life not really knowing how to behave.  Acts of cowardice came from fearing that i had broken rules that did not exist for 95 percent of my coinhabitants; and rare acts of apparent courage usually came from breaking rules that i did not know about.  Proper behavior, of course, comes from obeying the right rules in the right way in the right time and place.  Negotiating proper behavior is difficult for autistic people because they don't understand the behavior of neurotypical people because that behavior is often not logical from an autistic point of view.  They are like visitors to a country where they do not understand the language or the culture or the values and the best information based on thought and observation will not make them natives.

In 2002, Temple Grandin and Sean Barron wrote Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspective of Autism which i began reading two years later at the age of seventy-four.  I had lived in this country all of my life; i had taught a university course in Deviant Behavior nearly twenty different times.  Still i did not know when, how, or why to act like a normal person.  I continue to use Temple and Barron as a life guide.

On page 119 they introduce "the ten unwritten ruies of social relationships:

 1) Rules are not absolute.  They are situation based and people based.

 2) Not everything is equally important in  the grand scheme of things.

 3) Everyone in the world makes mistakes; it doesn't have to ruin your day.

 4) Honesty is different from diplomacy.

 5) Being polite is appropriate in any situation.

 6) Not everyone who is nice to me is my friend.

 7) People act differently in publid than they do in private.

 8) Know when you are turning people off.

 9) "Fitting in" is often linked to looking and sounding like you fit in.

10) People are responsible for their own behavior.

Regarding some of these rules, folks might say: "Everybody knows that."  (No, they don't!)  To others one  might respond: "everybody needs to learn that." (Yes, they do, but the lessons come slower and harder to some than to others.)  Not all autistic people have to struggle with all those rules and not all neurotypical people have an easy time with all of them.  But in general, autistic people find them harder to grasp, generally less obvious  I had a particularly difficult time learning 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8.  Number 4, i still can't deal with and am not sure i want to.

Under Rule #1 Grandin and Barron make a four fold categorization of rule breaking.:

Really Bad Things

Courtesy Rules

Illegal but Not Bad Things

Sins of the Systm . "These are rules that must never be broken, although they may seem to have little or no basis in logic. They must simply be accepted within our country and our culture. For instance, a small sexual transgression that would result in your name being added to a sex-offender list in the U.S. may have little or no consequence in another country. In theU.S. the two major sins of the system are sexual transgressions and drug offenses. Never commit a “sin of the system” because the penalties are usually very severe. -- Temple Grandin. Learning Social Rules - Autism Asperger's Digest Autism Asperger's Digest

There was a saying somewhere that what is wrong north of the Pyrennes is right south of the Pyrennes, which may be a bit of an exaggeration since France and Spain are both Latin, Roman Catholic countries.  But for places more separate in time and/or space, there are plenty of examples.  This even includes what are Realy Bad Things.   Yes, murder is always wrong.  But what is murder.  Murder is a legal term.  Whether or not the kllling of a human being is a murder depends on the law in the place and time that the killing occurs.  This may vary from country to country and from State to State within the U. S.  An autistic person is likely to be horrified by acts that don't bother other people and unbothered by things that horrify others.

(More in December)


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 3rd, 2015 01:14 pm (UTC)
I will look forward to reading more. And miss you while you're gone.

Do you have a service provider lined up for November?
Nov. 3rd, 2015 10:13 pm (UTC)

Yes. I should get hooked up Nov. 23rd.
Nov. 3rd, 2015 11:11 pm (UTC)
That's a l-o-n-g- t-i-m-e!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )



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