This post originally appeared in October 2009. In conjunction with our discussion on @thecoffeeklatch about manners, society and the sheer rudeness of others I offer it up as a redux for your perusal.
So collegeman has an art class where the students have to do critiques of each other's work. He usually says nothing and doesn't want to participate because it is hard for him in a large setting to think of the right things to say. However, the ability to critique is 25% of his grade and the professor told his aide that if he doesn't start to participate his grade will devolved from an A to a B. She was't going to change anything for him. OK that said, I completley agree with the professor. If you are going to be in college and the requirement is to participate then you have to participate. It's like in life, if you are in a meeting and have to give a presentation you have to talk in front of people. Now we do know that collegeman does not have this problem in other classes, most probably because he has formulated a question from the materials assigned. So its not that he has to create random thoughts but can tack onto what is already being discussed. But here in art class it is very different. Here he has to think completely ab initio and apply the techniques he has learned so far to be critical of someone else's work.
OK I told him he has to start participating or his grade would suffer. So he went to class last time determined to participate and participate he did. His participation got him called into the hall by the professor. Let me explain: Collegeman does not watch American Idol but Simon Cowell is everywhere. You can go on You Tube and watch clips of his antics. Also if you watch those luxury life shows you will see that his rudeness has gotten him a wonderful material life. Now for collegeman that is a good thing. Who doesn't want to have lots of stuff and be very comfortable. Who doesn't want to be able to afford anything you want and to be able to go on luxury vacations and have lots of pretty girls around you. So collegeman decided to be Simon Cowell. Well it did not go over well and he got pulled out for a lecture. Of course he understood how rude he was when it was explained to him by the professor and immediately apologized to the other students (his idea). He then called me after class and told me what happened, even referencing Simon Cowell. Collegeman was very mortified.
Told hubby what happened. Hubby got home from work and searched on the internet for information on how to do art critiques. (You can find anything on the internet) He found some wonderful articles full of examples of what to say and how to say things. How to intertwine the art technique with the picture and make a postive critique of the person's work. It was really good information that collegeman could apply to his classwork and classmates' work. Collegeman read it and hubby helped him model some comments so he understood better. Today we will see how it goes. Additionally, the aide who had not been coming to that part of class was able to work out her childcare issues so she could be there as well (Big thank you to her). Maybe with the information and the aide's support everything will go better today. (Like I have mentioned in an earlier blog. Collegeman had not needed assistance in art last year so we are a little disappointed that he needs the help now. But on the other hand, the aide is able to pull back in his academic classes and he will be more on his own there)
But the question remains how to help your child understand what is and is not appropriate in the real world. It is so hard for the average teenager or child to ascertain that what celebrities do or say is inappropriate, never mind how is an autistic child supposed to parcel out the social aspects of the Culture of Rude. I think that is what I am going to call it. The culture of our society is just plain rude. Civility has left the building. They have celebrities who make a fortune being nasty to other people, or the comics who say racially biased bits and get away with it and make a fortune, or how about the politicians who call each other names if you disagree with them and they still get reelected and make or have a fortune (either you're a racist, unamerican evil monger, unamerican socialist, and lets not forget the really nasty politics of the blogosphere). So what do you do with your autistic child?
You can sit them down and try to explain to them that sometimes life makes no sense. That if they said any of these rude or racist things in school they would be suspended and in college possibly expelled. That sometimes celebrities say things to get attention, and that to some celebrities even negative attention is good for their business. Of course, then you have to explan to them how negative attention is not good for those of us who live in the real work-a-day world. What I have generally found is that you have to stay on top of what is watched and what comes over the internet. I think it just adds another dimension to our stress. But you can't close them off from the world. Perhaps the old adage that our mother's used to teach us..".If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing" can work. But I am still trying to figure out how to explain to collegeman why rudeness gets you an elegant life style when rude people are anything but themselves elegant.
From a world where civility is still considered a virtue,
Until next time,