Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Moment Of Insight

I've mentioned a few times that Son16 has multiple special needs. And kind folks have ask to learn more. And I've promised to write about it. And I will. But for the moment, just a quickie...

It is always interesting when he has one of those moments where he can share what it feels like to be him. And this morning was one of those moments. A brief insight into a disability that is awash in social skill deficits.

The youth group from our church, of which he participates, was going out for brunch. So before we left the house to get him to the church, I was making sure he had plenty of money and telling him which restaurant they were going to visit. And he asked the question:

"Is this the kind of restaurant where you go to the counter and order or the kind where they come to the table?"

I told him it was not a fast food place. It was a regular restaurant where the person would come to the table to take his order.

He breathed a sigh of relief and said that was good because "he hated confrontations".

Huh?

I asked him what that meant? What confrontation was he talking about?

He explained that going up to the counter to order felt very "confrontational" to him because he had to go up and get into their space and tell them what he wanted. He felt more comfortable when they came to the table to ask.

Fascinating! The way the simple act of ordering at a fast food restaurant feels so hard to a kid who processes social interactions differently than the rest of us. He has done it plenty of times but I never realized how he felt every time it happened.

That moment of insight, of learning a bit more about how things are for him, is one more small step in the journey to understanding.

33 comments:

Kati said...

Ya know, I never thought about it THAT way, but he's right. It does feel rather confrontational to order at a fast-food place. Even when I know what I want, I feel stressed & pressured to make that order at a counter at a fast-food place.

It is interesting to hear about comments such as your son's, that are so intuitive, that most of us don't even understand how to put them into words.

You say he's got special needs & issues, maybe he does, but in this case it sounds more like We've got the special needs & issues, while Son16's got the ability to put into words what some people just can't verbalize.

Star said...

Hi Em. Michele sent me this time. I think your son has hit that nail on the head , It can be a confrontational experience, trying to deide and order quickly and efficiently. Then you wait for your food. THe fast in fast food is the ordering, not the service.

Chicky Pea said...

Yes, I can totally see his point. That whole process is far more intimidating than when you are seated and someone approaches you. It's almost like when you have to go to the counter the expectations are higher. It is hard to explain but I do understand. I'm glad he was able to give you some insight.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

What he said really makes a lot of sense. I'm glad you had the opportunity to gain more understanding and then share it with us.

Justin said...

That's interesting. In a way, it does feel confrontational to me also. But, that's usually because they're not getting tips for being nice or they simply can't get an order right.

I much prefer sitting at a table and having a server take my order. Plus, as others have said, you're expected to know exactly what you want when you step up to the counter. I like to think it over for a while.

Teena said...

I'm glad you are taking the steps and have the patience. Our brains don't all work the same.

kate said...

wow...

Interesting that he feels this way and good for you that you have an open relationship that you cantalk about this kind of thing! I wonder if there is any way to help him get over the feeling of it being confrontational... idk just a thought.

I have 2 kids with mild learning issues.. but they are learning issues for all of us that is for sure!

Thanks for sharing.

Jenster said...

Not something I've ever thought about before, but it makes perfect sense.

Did he have a good time??

Redneck Mommy said...

Thanks Em, to you and to your son, for sharing this with us.

I love learning a new perspective.

He's right, it does seem confrontational.

Tell him that the old blonde hanging around your blog wants to give him a squeeze. (In that non-perverted way we discussed earlier..._

ramblingwoman said...

I agree with all your readers Em. It can be quite a stressful experience trying to order so quickly with loads of people standing behind you and a person in front of you staring at you waiting for you to get your words out!

I'd never thought about it as confrontrational before but he's right, it is!

andy said...

I can so relate to your son's situation, Em. As a child, and well into early adulthood (and still occasionally now), I had a very bad stammer, which made every sort of social interaction a form of torture. It'd be worst where the dialogue was with a stranger, and there was no way to avoid it, especially when the situation felt public and exposed, like standing at the head of an impatient queue. So although my situation may not have been exactly the same as your son's, I do have an inkling of how he feels.

SzélsőFa said...

Hello, Em.
the good thing is that he seems to be able to articulate what his difficulties were - so much better for him, for you can help him more if wou know what his problems are.

Elle said...

You know, whenever you talk about son16, it gives me a better understanding about my own child. I wish I knew what was going on in her head. It's good to hear what he has to say, because maybe it's things she's wanting to tell me too.

Above Average Joe said...

Makes sense once explained. Besides, keeping him out of the fast-food joints is a plus.

Trish said...

How very insightful!

I always feel a little stressed and rushed when I make an order over the counter because I don't want to keep the people behind me waiting...

Beth said...

i never thought about it like that, but he's right! And he sounds like a sweetheart.

Thomas said...

I always think of it that way.
I can really identify with that issue.

I hate dealing with people in their space. I will walk out of a store if I have to ask for help.

Small world.

TV

Sheila said...

Wow, what an experience! Thanks for sharing. Son16 sounds very intelligent.... you must be proud

My Comfy Chair said...

Hi! :) Found you through Elle's blog. I have worked fast food off and on (mostly on) for the last 10 years and have OFTEN wondered why people apologize to me for taking a long time to order. I generally make a joke and say something about "take your time, gives me longer to just stand around and not get in trouble."

I have always found it facinating to hear why people do the things they do and the way he worded that was just awesome. Will really make me think about how I take orders on front counter at my job (if they ever let me off drive-thru that is...LOL)

Wizened Wizard said...

When you think about this, he's so right. It is so much nicer to be served or asked than it is to approach and seek something from a stranger. And yet, this one small fragment of his day, this few seconds of necessary interaction... so meaningless to most of us... has the potential to ruin hours of Son16's time.

May you have many more opportunities to know the world he experiences and to share it with others. He made us all think and understand some subtlety today.

Oh, The Joys said...

I hope you do write more because your writing really pulled me in on that one. Now I'm all curious with the rest!!

Dorky Dad said...

Wow. Clearly he must be going to the fast food restaurants I've been to.

Actually, it does feel pretty stressful, especially when there are people all around you listening to your order. That is a pretty fascinating observation and I've never really thought about it until now ...

Gardener Greg said...

Great insight into the thoughts of the youth. I try to get my son to open up and think I do a pretty good job but sometimes I miss the simple things. One of my goals in life is to do a better job of communicating with my son than my father did with me. Thanks,

Greg

MarmiteToasty said...

ya know........ sometimes I think it is us with the learning difficulties...... these children actually get it right first time, its us that have to suss and sort it out........ fanks for sharing............. 2 of the little lads I mind have some mild learning difficulties, but they teach me something every week..... these kids are more in tune with the world then we sometimes give then credit for........

x

CSL said...

Aspberger's is so interesting in terms of the sensory overload that occurs. I wonder, too if both people standing adds to that confrontational feel for him - you know, face to face rather than the more homey feel of sitting as someone puts food in front of you?

MileHighDivaCyn said...

He does make a lot of sense with this thought process. I think we have lots to learn from kids if we just ask the right questions.

Melody said...

Wow. That's a good insight to remember...

How did he go??

velvet girl said...

Wow, that is an amazing insight. I never thought about that before and he's so right.

Thank you (and Son16) for sharing that!

Chelle said...

Thank you for sharing that. That is an interesting way to look at it.....I've certainly not thought of it like that before...but now...

Dirk_Star said...

How cool.

Nice post and is really a lesson in viewpoint...

Jocelyn said...

I love these little moments of life that are so revealing. Now I ask of you: MORE, MORE, MORE. It's a pleasure to get to know your son in such a way, and I can completely see what he means by that interaction feeling "confrontational."

Wow.

liv said...

Em, I love being able to see a teenage perspective because I think I wonder what the future will be like for my little D. We had soccer tonight which boils down to being a parent-child clinic, and for the most part D ran around, away or was non-compliant. I found myself wondering if I could ever expect team sports from him? Would it ever be in his comfort zone or interests? I guess I feel like it's sort of important to try, but there's also a part of me that wonders what exactly the point is. Maybe it's normal to get a bit down in the mouth especially when the differences are glaring at you in technicolor.(?)

psycho-therapist said...

i work with kids with emotional disabilities and this was fascinating to me. i would love to know which disabilities your son has. you have given me a new perspective that will hopefully help me even more in my work.
thank you. i'm so glad your son has you for parents. how lucky he is. i wish all of my kids were so blessed.