Friday, April 26, 2013

Autism Awareness #13 - The Power of Thank You

Mind your P's and Q's.  Be polite. I was raised with consistent reminders of how to show common courtesy to others.  I can't say I was always successful over the years mind you, but I heard the message often and it did sink in.  My wife and I have done our best to impart that same philosophy into my 3 boys. 

On a related note, I so want my boys to grow up with a strong sense of self worth and self-esteem.  I want them to feel good about who they are, their abilities and know that they are a valued person.  Those with Aspergers struggle a good deal with self-esteem given their desire yet frequent failures to connect with others.  I don't hear as much about self-esteem and those with an autism diagnosis.   I need to check into that more...

At any rate, I wanted to comment on one minor example of manners and self-esteem issues.  It makes me smile and I believe showcases the small victories we parents with kids on the spectrum celebrate.

My son M has an inclination to say 'I know' when you pay him a compliment.  And why not from his perspective as you're obviously stating a fact!  When I tuck him in at night and tell him how proud I am of him and what a good boy he is.  He will lie there and give a dead pan "I know" back.  He's right.  He does know.  Honestly, though, when I hear this my initial thought is one of concern that we are not connecting.  That remains in his own world.  I can celebrate that he's verbal and that he responds for those are things that not always the case with others on the spectrum.  When I stop to think more about it, however, I have come to conclusion that he does know.  It is a fact to him.  He really is a good boy.  Then I smile.  I know his positive self-esteem is there, lurking in the weeds.  At some level I need to get over the response because it doesn't fit the model I have in my head - no different than the French (i.e., don't say "thank you" to a compliment in France - say "do you really think so?")

Even better is that a few weeks back I commented to him that the more appropriate way to respond to comments such as this is "thank you".  I explained in concrete terms that it's not polite to say that when somone pays you a compliment (ah - the hidden curriculum of social interaction raises it's head again).  I suggest him simply say "thank you" even though he might be thinking "I know".  Several nights later I was tucking him in and again I said something to the effect that he is doing a great job in school and I'm so proud of him working so hard.  He looked at me and with a bit of a twinkle in his eye he said "thank you".  I smiled.  He smiled.  He knew he had said the right thing.  I think he also was proud of his ability to translate.  To play the right card at the right time.  A boost to the self-esteem and a demonstration of the power of 'thank you'.  Progress!

Thank you for reading.  =)

1 comment:

  1. Isn't that what we always want for our kids as far as social interactions go - to play the right card at the right time? I love that phrase.