Afternoon Inquisition

Afternoon Inquisition 1.24

Last weekend, talking to a friend who is a parent, the topic of popularity came up. She was talking about helping her son to seize strategic social opportunities (such as sitting near the cake at a birthday party) so he will be successful socially. I completely understand the impulse to try to prevent your child going through the pains of being a social outcast, but at the same time, even though it completely sucked when it was happening, I value my outcast experience very highly. I don’t think my life would be nearly as interesting if I hadn’t come through what I did.

What do you think about this? Do you or will you try to steer you children socially? Is the suffering worth the outcome?

Thanks to Kammy for inspiring this one.

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  1. Since I was a social outcast for almost my entire grade and high school experience, I’d have traded some of that suffering for a little help and encouragement. College was a little better, because by then I didn’t care what other people thought as much.

    I suppose that some of that experience is good for a person, but like the old saw goes, “Too much of anything can be bad for you.”

  2. Like you said, the same goes for me; I value my having been considered an outcast. I wasn’t entirely, I had friends of the same social standing, but we certainly weren’t getting invited to those “party of the year” type events.

    I have a mommy-friend who seems to feel the exact opposite. She was an outcast in high school and before, and now that she has an 8-year old daughter she lives vicariously through her. They live in a rich area, and so every penny is spent to make sure she’s in the latest fashions to keep up with her classmates. She signs her up for literally every extra-curricular possible, whether the daughter really wants to do it or not. I could go on…

    At any rate, I think that to a certain point it’s natural for a parent to want their kids to be liked and to fit in. However, there is a line that gets crossed by putting too much pressure on the kids.

    And I must add, I never became anyone’s BFF just by sitting closest to them when they blew out the candles on their cake.

  3. I think parents shouldn’t be quick to solve problems that their children haven’t asked them to. I know I learn more and better when I figure things out for myself and being awkward in social situations is a powerful motivation. If your kid comes to you and says “I need help with this,” that’s another case all together.

    I was never with the popular crowd when I was growing up and usually wasn’t with much of a crowd at all. As a consequence very little of my behavior was geared towards gaining social acceptance. This has served me well as an adult because I am much more self-motivated and self-directed than my more socially adjusted peers. The downside is I had to pick up skills like tact and empathy fairly late in life, but a very patient wife has been most helpful with these. The other downside is I have never been comfortable in large groups so I avoid weddings, funerals, large concerts, and family reunions like the plague. Then again, I really don’t see this as that much of a downside. Does anyone really enjoy weddings?

  4. I agree with everything already said. I never had many friends, but I’d much rather be friends with the people I liked than be forced into being friends with the “popular crowd” just for the sake of being popular.

  5. Boy that is a tough one. My evil impulse is to hate doting parents that manage every aspect of their children’s lives and drag them to a specialist if there is the first sign of abnormality, but if I get honest with myself there is a strong element of jealousy running through my emotions. My parents were kind of the polar opposite of the doting yuppies each with Ivy league graduate degrees. They tried to be good parents, but they were beset with problems that were probably out of their control (definitely in my mom’s case with her mental illness, and maybe not so much in my dad’s case with his alchoholism).

    I would like to say that I was a hearty soul that thrived despite all the adversity, but that wouldn’t be correct. My life could easily be described as somewhat of a cluster f$%k. I feel like I am just starting to sort it all out at 43. My gradual decision to embrace skepticism has been immensley helpful in this process. I think the turning point came when my wife (then girlfriend) bought me a copy of Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World”. It really clicked with me. Skepticism gave me the confidence to trust that hard medical science might have the answer for me and not a bunch of crackpot hucksters peddling snake oil. It also gave me the courage to question my psychiatrists when they said the medicine they were giving me for depression and anxiety shouldn’t be working the way it was (empericism vs. dogma) and the knowledge to fight back when they tried to dismiss my experience as being simply a placebo effect without hearing me out (as well as the self-skepticism not to totally dismiss the possibility of a placebo effect without careful consideration).

    But I digress. The question is would I trade my clinically depressed mom and alcoholic dad and the insane life journey that accompanied that circumstance for a couple of doting ivy league yuppy parents – no probably not, but I say that knowing full well that a “do-over” isn’t possible. Perhaps a better question is would I want another kid to experience what I experienced to get where I am today – No, probably not.

    I am not a parent, so take my opinion with that grain of salt, but I suspect that the healthy approach is to let kids skin their knees out in the world, but be there for them with support when they come in at night. And for heavens sake keep an eye out for pathlogical problems that are above and beyond the normal growing pains that kids experience (some doting is good).


    P.S. If you are a doting Ivy league parent, please accept my apology for picking on you. It’s a hangup that I have.

  6. As a current high schooler, I do not appreciate the social “steering” I get from parents. I consider myself a social outcast, but there are always others. I have a very small circle of friends, but because of that, it’s very closely knit.

    I don’t think that my future children will ever receive such coddling, because it is insulting to try to live their lives for them, as well as depriving them of chances to assert themselves. As davew said, it’s much easier to learn and pick up on how to act in social situations if you have to go and figure it out. Helping children along and hand-feeding them social decorum may be helpful in a popularity contest, but the learning experience that comes with picking their own way through social situations is well worth it.

  7. Trying to steer your child to prevent them being outcast, no. Teaching them the skills to choose for themselves the life they want, yes.

    Most people will value whatever path they took through life, if they are contented with where they are. So, the fact that any one person values the time they spent as an outcast is no indicator. Just as many will value having been popular.

    So, the proper thing to do is the teach your child social skills. That way your child will be more likely to have a positive experience if he or she isn’t in the popular group, because it will be by his or her choice.

  8. the most popular girl at my high school was Katie Fisher. She was a cheerleader. She was cute, she came from a wonderful family. She was not only really smart, she was a fabulous artist. She was voted homecoming queen, much to the dismay of the real mean girls at the school that thought they were better looking and such… but I remember during voting everyone said “you know Katie is nice!” I once thought, “boy life must be great as Katie Fisher.” But then… one day during a basketball game I look over. The cheerleaders all sat on the first row of benches. I hear 2 of them talking “no YOU go sit over next to her… I’m not sitting with HER!” Katie was sitting all by herself. She was crying. OPENLY crying just sobbing into her hands during the basketball game. The entire school could see her crying, and hear the other cheerleaders complaining.. and no one went over to sit with her.

    It would be nice if I had, but I didn’t really KNOW her, part of me was “If I go over and say anything, she will probably tell me to go away…because I’m not cool like she is.” I was the uncool art person (and on a technical level her art kicked my arts ass). I never did find out why the other cheerleaders didn’t like her at that game. I never figured out why no teacher or anyone went up to see what has happening with her.

    She was the most popular person at the school… except at that moment. What I learned is that even Katie Fisher will have her bad days. It may seem like others never have an unpopular or sad moment and float through life. But everyone has a time when they aren’t popluar and learning to deal with that, and how to deal with it, can define how happy you are in life.

    We are all our own best friend and worst enemy.

  9. I’d say it’s best to let kids find their own way. Having someone coach them on ways to manipulate their social status might work but there’s also the possibility that it’d backfire. Your friend’s son might become more popular or he might end up being “the weird kid who always sits next to the cake”, for example.

  10. @steve: Sometimes, as was the case with me, we can’t find our way for some reason. Where’s the line between allowing them to fail socially and deciding that something must be done? (In this post, I’m referring to the kind of kid that always seems to be the “odd one out” as I tended to be, not the kid that’s trying to be the number one most popular kid in the county.)

    I was lucky in that both of our kids did very well on their own socially and needed little guidance. I honestly don’t know what I would have said or done if one of my kids turned out to be socially invisible (or tormented) as I did .

  11. Hmm – I think the independence I had growing up is a part of what helped me to become who I am. But it was in some ways a chosen independence as opposed to being an outcast – I enjoyed being the weird one, so I never really tried to fit in, and still usually ended up with a few close friends. Of course I got picked on too, but I also learned how to diffuse that and deal with it.

    But as a previous commenter mentioned, there’s a difference between choosing to be an outsider, and trying to fit in and never understanding why you don’t. And there are times when I wished I had a better understanding of how the social game was played earlier than I did. So I do plan to try to help my kid learn more about social interactions from an early age – even things as simple as people watching in a store and asking the child to try to figure out what people are thinking or feeling to raise an awareness of body language.

    But I also realize that social skills are a learned skill set just like any other set of skills. And while it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of a wide range of skills, if you’re going to specialize in one, it’s much harder to have the time need to practice to also specialize in others. So if I have a child who is inclined to be a social coordinator, that’s fine. But if I have a kid who would rather spend the time learning music or science skills, etc, that’s fine too. I plan to treat the social skills much like the other skills a child learns during childhood – make sure the child has a basic exposure to all of them, and at least a certain level of comfort with them all, and then let them figure out for themselves which areas they want to pursue more.

  12. I think the important thing is to let kids know it’s OK to not fit in with the “in crowd”. I was one of the misfits and found a good life with other misfits.

  13. @blu: “Trying to steer your child to prevent them being outcast, no. Teaching them the skills to choose for themselves the life they want, yes.”

    This is it in a nutshell. I’m a parent of four (not that that makes me an expert), and my philosophy is that it’s important to teach children how to deal with people, even ones they don’t really like or who don’t like them. Maybe I’m turning into a conservative old fart, but it seems to me that basic social skills such as courtesy and empathy, are sorely lacking. But there’s a big difference between teaching a child fundamental social skills and indoctrinating them into a life role of using those skills solely for their own advancement.

  14. There is nothing wrong about what this parent did. The parent did not say tell the kid to be someone else, but rather gave the child some pointers on how to gain acceptance. This is not a bad thing and is healthy. The parent wasn’t saying that being popular is everything, either. She gave the son social pointers, which are very similar pointers to being successful in business.

    As a counter example, would you criticize the parent if she said that the teacher will notice him more if he sits in the front of the class? I have been a teacher in college, and my experience is that regardless of ability, the front row students attain more favor than the back row students.

    The important point is that the advice did not ask the kid to change, but rather social pointers. Nothing wrong with this.

  15. As a lifelong introvert (and socially dysfunctional nerd, truth be told), I resent the hell out of any and all efforts that have ever been made to “pull me out of my shell.” You ask me, it’s the sick extroverts who are “broken” and need “fixed.”

    I say steer the kid towards other outcasts and introverts.

  16. I’m going to parrot a lot of what others have said, it’s going to sound corny, and when we’re done we can all hug it out.

    Basically it’s important to let the kid be themselves and it usually works itself out in the end. I was an introvert in high school and middle school, got made fun of a lot and generally didn’t enjoy life. THEN, I went to college, and had a blast, the secret was I was I had to be myself (also being away from an overbearing mother who was always trying to “fix things” helped to), but really, more people, and an environment were there was less concern about social status and if you were one of the “cool kids”or not, those attitudes were generally disdained (except for maybe the frats and sororities but they were looked down upon by the university population at large) all and all and it all shaked out to good friends and eventually a happy marriage.

    If there was one thing I could convey to the youth of america, it would be this, “middle school and high school doesn’t fucking matter in the big picture, your social standing in high school won’t mean dick one year after graduation.” Of course try to tell that to a high schooler, all they know is right in front of them and every thing is SO SERIOUS, and YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.

  17. I wouldn’t call it steering – but I’d try to be very good at listening to questions and answering from experience whenever I can, and researching answers when I can’t do that. Having an atmosphere of open communication seems to me to be about 90% of the solution – maintaining that means not injecting advice where is isn’t looked for.

    I certainly would never give advice to assimilate with morons in order to avoid conflict with them.

  18. Shyness in children can be severe enough (and paradoxical enough) that the child will not only avoid activities they think they won’t like, they’ll even avoid participating in activities that they think they _will_ like. They can reflexively say “No” to participation even when interested, then later regret it. Parents of such children should understand that “No” doesn’t always really mean No. (Wow, there’s a statement otherwise _highly_ unlikely to appear on Skepchick…) Gently, supportively, pushing shy children to participate is a good thing.

    Similarly, in cases of childhood depression coupled with the low self-esteem often associated with depression, a child may decline to participate in something that appeals to them because they think they’re not worthy or not deserving of participation. Again, supportive parental prodding to participate is very much called for.

    What disturbs me is parents choosing exactly which activities the child must participate in, due to parental obsession with prestige. Parent saying “Chess Club, Football, or Piano…you need to pick one” – That’s good prodding. Parent saying “Piano. Discussion Over.” – That’s bad prodding.

  19. In the unlikely event I have children I couldn’t given them social prodding even if I wanted to. My own social ineptness would make giving useful advice almost impossible.

  20. @ekimbrough: “Shyness in children can be severe enough (and paradoxical enough) that the child will not only avoid activities they think they won’t like, they’ll even avoid participating in activities that they think they _will_ like. They can reflexively say “No” to participation even when interested, then later regret it. Parents of such children should understand that “No” doesn’t always really mean No. (Wow, there’s a statement otherwise _highly_ unlikely to appear on Skepchick…) Gently, supportively, pushing shy children to participate is a good thing.

    Similarly, in cases of childhood depression coupled with the low self-esteem often associated with depression, a child may decline to participate in something that appeals to them because they think they’re not worthy or not deserving of participation. Again, supportive parental prodding to participate is very much called for.”

    I think that was my situation growing up, ekimbrough. The gain of participation didn’t seem worth the pain, so I didn’t participate in many things that I really wanted to. I think a vigilant parent would have caught on to this. In my case my “parents” were my 80 year old grandmother who took over after my parents died. I think she was pretty overwhelmed with the basics (i.e. keeping herself alive until we all got through high school). I think a cultural bias against the helping professions (psychology and psychiatry) and the stigma of mental illness may have also played a role in her not trying to get me into some kind of counseling. People just didn’t do that back then in rural Ohio (they probably are still reluctant). They just let Jesus “weed out the weak” :-) :-) If that turned out to be you – tough shit.


  21. Speaking as an ex-social outcast, I would not try to steer my daughter socially because I wouldn’t know what the $%@! I was doing. All I can do is provide moral support and my perspective.

  22. @jreedgt: “As a counter example, would you criticize the parent if she said that the teacher will notice him more if he sits in the front of the class?”

    I would not presume to criticize the parent if she were just sitting back and giving the child advice. However, as I read the scenario, she was “helping” him to get a seat by the cake. In your hypothetical, I WOULD criticize the parent if she said that the teacher will notice him more in the front of the room, and then proceeded to make sure he got a seat right in front.

  23. Unfortunately, there are some components of social interaction that are genetic and thus not controllable; for example, looks and shyness. Some kids are born shy – not much you can do about it. And kids can be cruel about looks.
    I think the best thing parents can do is raise their children to be confident in themselves and let them find their own way. Give them opportunities to try out different activities and let them find what they’re interested in or good at.
    But we can’t control how other children perceive our kids, and there’s not a lot we can do about it.

  24. Wow – the question could not have come at a better time. While I was always the “happy fat girl” in school, I always had a boyfriend, was on student council, and knew everyone. I was even goth one year, wearing black trenchcoats waaay before it was considered threatening. I died my hair every few months, and generally dressed like a kook. The secret to my success though – I was always myself. I did not drink or do drugs, because I grew up with parents who did so. I also considered drugs and alcohol to be a cop-out of sorts. Therefore, while I knew everyone, I was also not invited to the drinking parties because, duh, I didn’t drink. In fact, when people came to my parties, they got a massive tongue lashing from me if they drank or smoked weed at my house.

    My husband on the other hand, who I dated briefly in high school, was painfully shy until about 11th grade. He started forcing himself to go to parties, and started drinking. In a case that goes against everything ever taught in after-school specials, the drinking actually lowered his inhibitions enough where he started to feel much more comfortable in ALL social situations. He is now in a job that requires constant interaction with people, and drinks on a rare basis. He is lucky he did not have the genetic predisposition for alcoholism, though, because that could have been a bad combination.

    Anyhoo, we now have a 6 1/2 year-old son who is so painfully shy that he sometimes explodes in anger at school, like actually punching kids. Since it is too early for him to start drinking, and he does have my genetics for addiction, we have been taking him the full round of specialists trying to work it out.

    However, I never force him to be something he is not. I help him find children like him, or children that share his interests (Star Wars, etc.). I also pay an obscene amount of money on a monthly basis for him to be surrounded by other “different” kids at the local Montessori. It may turn out that he needs medication of a prescribed kind rather than the liquid courage his father chose, but through it all I will help him find himself.

    The younger son will eventually be able to sell ice to Eskimos and charm the panties off a nun. Siblings can be so different

    As I am sure you can not get enough of this

  25. My wife did not enjoy being a social outcast, while I relished it. She spent a lot of time trying to help our first daughter be popular, I didn’t resist much. The kid hung out with the A list until junior high, when she decided on her own that she didn’t want to hang out with that crowd. She is much closer to her new friends and I can see she is happier. The wife has relaxed a lot with the next two girls. She is a bit more OK with the second daughter’s nerdiness. The third is looking to turn out to be a snot all by herself.

    Not everyone benefits from being a nerd, a weirdo, or a loser. While most of us feel we have a richer life because of our experiences, some are genuinely scarred by being excluded. My wife did not want her children to go through what she went through, however bad it really was, and still fights the urge to intervene in the children’s social lifes.

    It’s hard for me to understand that when I feel my life is so much more full due to my differences. I can’t imagine a life without obscure punk rock, good marijuana, and scientific exploration. I don’t mind when my oldest kid calls me a dork. I couldn’t have it any other way.

  26. There is a husge difference in my eyes between teaching social skills, like courtesy and empathy, and teaching social manipulation. The former is teaching the kid to be a good person and giving them the skills to be able to handle social situations with grace. The latter is teaching the kid that to be liked one must manipulate situations to give oneself some advantage. Also it instills insecurity, insinuating that the kid must manipulate social situations to be liked and fit in. It’s rather the opposite of the former scenario. This, to me, is a nasty skill to pass on (if it even works), and is very disempowering.

    From my experience as a kid, it seemed that the majority of the ‘popular’ kids were just that manipulative, fake type that were horrible to whatever kids were not in the in group that day. The kids that were quality sincere people rarely became popular. I think sacrificing sincerety for grade school popularity is a craptastic trade-off.

  27. Man, I do not like the kid who DELIBERATELY sits next to the cake or is in EVERY SINGLE STINKING picture of my kid’s birthday party. I probably would really dislike the parents who encouraged their kid to do this. This is my personal preference against people who are out to climb socially at the expense of others. I see it this way because the US is a nation of individuals to the detriment of the whole. Where have we heard this before? Go on, call me a socialist. I don’t care – I’m an outcast.

  28. @BCT: I can’t imagine your life as a kid. I thought mine was bad enough with an alcoholic mother. She finally drank herself to death shortly after I graduated from high school. Of course, the emphesyma from the chain smoking helped do her in. My Dad focused more and more on work the worse she got, so he wasn’t much assistance. My sister (older) took off into a bad marriage to escape the situation.

    I was basically left to ‘sink or swim’ during my teen years – that’s how the Fundies picked me up for awhile. At least I had the bad example of drinking and smoking to keep me out of major trouble. I was in clinical depression from my childhood years until my thirties. I thought everyone felt as bad as I did, so I didn’t question it until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Turns out that one of the dirty family secrets was that depression runs strong on one side. One MD told me that she could do a paper on the genetic linkages between depression and heredity just from my case history.

    As to whether to offer help to a kid that’s having social trouble: I suppose it depends a lot on the entire situation and the personalities involved. Where many here were able to prosper in spite of it all, I would have welcomed some help coping. I was in well over my head with nowhere to find help. I coped, but in my case, some of the damage is permanent.

  29. Being a social outcast totally sucked. I was too weird even for the geeks and stoners. I ended up basically burning a few years on drugs and more on just being unhappy. I blew a lot of opportunities to be successful because I was too wrapped up in being weird and depressed.

    If I could fix any of that, I would, and screw the consequences to my present state.

    I can’t force my kid to be popular, though. If you sit too near the birthday cake and it isn’t really your spot, no one is fooled. I have not idea how to be popular and successful anyway.

    The best I can hope for is that I can help the Highlander and the Dark Phoenix be self-confident without being arrogant, and quick witted without being smart-asses. If I can accomplish that minor miracle of parenting, their place in the pecking order will sort itself out and they’ll be okay.

    Oh, and they are going to know Brazilian Ju Jitsu like they know how to walk.

  30. I think the whole “popularity” thing has a lot less importance in the UK, or at least when I was at school. I went to a selective Christian Brothers run all boys Grammer School. There were no “social outcasts”, everyone was united in adversity.

    Also unlike schools in the US we wore uniforms. How can you be uncool when you’re where exactly the same clothes as everyone else (right down to the regulation underpants), have exactly the same haircut as everyone else, have exactly the same regulation satchel, pencil case, stationary and disposable income (zero) as everyone else? The son of a Engineer from Leeds equalised with the son of an Italian Prince. An almost perfect Socialist State.

    Of course there was competition, only natural in an all male testosterone filled environment, but rather than forming cliques against one another we had the house system (Shackleton, Livingston, Hilary and Armstrong) to channel our natural competitative inclinations where different abilities where required from the boys of a house to win the school cup; Academics, Sports, Debate, Chess Club, Morale (i.e. house unity), Honour (i.e. behaviour), Scholarship (i.e. how much effort put in as opposed to results) and so forth.

    By making it impossible to win without a combination of “brains AND brawn” no one became an outcast because on one could afford to cast out a member of their own house as all effort was needed beat the other three houses.

    When the Chess Team is as important as the Rubgy Team then everyone is united.

    Of course that’s not to say I wouldn’t have advice for my sons starting school;

    1) Don’t fight. But if you have to fight, remember most fights are decided in the first three blows, so strike first, fast, hard and dirty. If you can hold it, it’s a weapon.

    2) Stick together and look out for one another. If you try to go it alone, you’ll not last 5 minutes. Unity is Strength.

    3) Pick your battles, and make sure they’re ones you know you can win. Otherwise back off.

  31. @heidiho: I have Aspergers and got into fights pretty much every day when I was that age through shear frustration, and it sounds like your son might have Aspergers too.

    Rather than planning for his future medication, which with most AS people is a process where everything is tried until Zombiefiction is achieved to produce a “nice, docile child who does not hit others”, it would be more productive to have a councilor teaching him coping stratagies and accept that he’s different.

    In fact, thats probably the best thing to do regardless of him having AS or not.

  32. @carr2d2: Me, too. Dark brown slacks, white shirt, dark brown tie, dark brown shoes.
    In the tropics.
    Same colors for girls, with knee length skirts.

    And, yes, one can be very uncool, even if you look like everyone else.

    @RussellSugden: Speaking of Asperger’s, have you read any of Dr. Temple Grandin’s work on both humans and animals? She also has Asperger’s. Fascinating reading – explains a lot and helps those without that burden to understand those that do have it.

  33. “But as a previous commenter mentioned, there’s a difference between choosing to be an outsider, and trying to fit in and never understanding why you don’t. And there are times when I wished I had a better understanding of how the social game was played earlier than I did.” (Mazzlyn)

    Yes. This is much like what I meant when we were talking.

    I curb my desire to push my little guy forward all the time. As a parent, I’d like to somehow help him find a balance between being an outsider by thinking for himself and being a follower who goes along for the sake of popularity. I really think that with even a little understanding of how things work socially, a child doesn’t have to be either an outcast or a popular kid. There has to be a place in the middle, where they can think and speak for themselves and still have most people like them.

  34. Kids, boys or girls, that are currently having problems with bullies are a sub-specialty at most boxing gyms.

    It has always amazed be how popular these same kids become, after about six months of lessons.

    I’m not always sure if it’s the confidence that they gain or that they decked someone, or a little of both, but I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times in my life.

    It works,


  35. @QuestionAuthority: I’m aware of Temple Grandin, though I haven’t read any of her work.

    I don’t consider myself to be “burdend” or disabled because of it, because well, I’m not. I wasn’t diagnosed until my early 20’s and I’d managed perfectly well until then. Being hard of hearing (nothing to do with AS, my habit of drowning out the world with a personal stereo did that) however can be an incovience at times, but the deafness has only come on in the last couple of years, mostly though it’s a handy excuse to ignore people (and I think most people would be gratful to walk around busy city centres in near silence)

    Asperger’s is not “mild Autism” like some people think. I certainly can’t perform amazing feats of calculation or recall like Kim Peak or Daniel Tammet. Personally, I would describe it as being unable to read other people’s minds. The more Formal a situation the easier (more comfortable) I find it, the more Relaxed the harder I find it.

    Asperger’s wasn’t on the radar until the 1950’s probably because prior to that a more formal, structured and stoic society exsisted so Aspies had little or no difficulty navigating a world where no one talked about how they felt about everything all the time, and everybody had “monday clothes, tuesday clothes, wednesday clothes…”

  36. @RussellSugden:
    My apologies, I didn’t meant that the way it came out on “paper.” No insult implied or intended.

    As I understand her work as an uneducated layman, her theory is that there are significant links between Asperger’s and “true autism,” as she calls it, though they are not the same.

    What I found interesting is her description of the perceptual differences and her description of and methods of working with what you call “being unable to read other people’s minds.” She also discusses her way of “thinking in pictures” versus what most in society call “thinking in words.”

  37. @russellsugden:

    Its pretty funny that you say that, because we have batted that one around numerous times. The therapists and psychologists seem pretty convinced he is not an Aspie – we will see.

    In the Montessori he is attending (due to HUGE issues at his public school) one of his classmates told the teacher “Maybe he has Asperger’s.” The child that said that was about 8.

    Despite less than helpful professionals, he had a great day today because of something I came up with. I helped him make a collage of all the things he LIKES about Montessori and posters with the photos and names of all his new classmates .I also have merged two ideas from separate sources into how he can deal with his anger. He can choose to turtle or tiger! If he chooses to turtle when he is angry, then he needs to pull into himself like a turtle. If he chooses to tiger, then he needs to pace back and forth or run in laps to get his energy out.

    I bought him some turtle and tiger stickers and will put one on each hand to remind him tomorrow. I told his teachers and his classmates to help him remember to choose turtle or tiger when he gets angry. I also bought him a turtle and a tiger stuffed animal to help him reinforce the behavior.

    I am still not convinced he is not an Aspie.

  38. @carr2d2: *splutter* How dare you accuse me of such language? I… I …. what? Oh, well never mind then.

    A false dichotomy for the sake of setting up a question to get people thinking/talking about a topic isn’t the same as using a false dichotomy to flog a point. In my opinion, you should be safe from having charges brought by the logical fallacy police. Be careful, though. We’re watching you. Always watching. :P

  39. @ Question Authority: Sorry to hear that you are also in the club for “neurotransmitter challenged families”, but it is also nice to know that I am not the only one. I too could have used some help coping. Some things are too big for kids to cope with on their own. Yes, things are finally working out, but there was a lot of wasted energy expended along the long winding road. Along these lines, I think the best description I think I ever heard of life growing up in a very dysfunctional family was that it was a “cruel hoax”.

    Thanks for sharing your story of triumph over adversity.



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