Friday, April 20, 2012

The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships 20: Who's At Fault?

For my write-up today on The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationship, I'll quote something that Temple Grandin says on page 278:

"Not all social situations are ruined because of a person's autism; sometimes it's the fault of the other person involved. However, we concentrate so much on teaching appropriate behavior and responses that we overlook teaching a child or adult that all people in a social situation contribute to its success or failure. The public behaviors of typical people are not always appropriate; regularly pointing this out helps the person gain better social perspective and understand that social relationships require that all participants accept responsibility for their own actions."

It's easy for people with Asperger's Syndrome to assume that they are at fault when it comes to all of their failed social interactions. While Asperger's Syndrome may make a person come across as unusual, I don't think that means that a person with AS is the one who is always at fault in social encounters. There are plenty of neurotypical people who are judgmental, or picky, or elitist, or stand-offish, or who have bad days. I agree with Temple that people with AS (and people in general) should identify where they may have been at fault in certain social interactions, but they should not assume that they are the only ones at fault.

I'm reminded of a post that Izgad wrote in 2007. Izgad states:

"The New York Times has a story on Asperger Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome Gets a Very Public Face. The story focuses on Heather Kuzmich, who competed on the show America’s Top Model with much success and has now become a bit of a celebrity. While overall the article took a positive stand to Aspies, the author, Tara Parker-Pope, still insisted on describing Asperger Syndrome as a 'neurological disorder' and as a 'disability.' This is a wonderful example of a journalist coming into a story with preconceived notions and holding onto them even when they fly in the face of the facts. Heather, as the article points out, is a talented art student, is on the edge high fashion and has a knack for connecting with the camera. She was voted favorite model eight weeks in a row. So what is Heather’s problem? She had difficulty relating to the other girl’s on the show, who were at times quite mean to her. But is that a problem with her or with the other girls on the show? Heather did nothing wrong, it was the other girls who mistreated her. It is they who have a problem; it is they who need to learn to be more tolerant and accepting of other people’s differences."

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