Sunday, November 13, 2011

No I Didn't!

Jordan's initial response to just about anything is "No I didn't!"  I think that's because typically kind behaviors don't come naturally to Jordan the way they do for most of us.  Though he doesn't want to be mean or unkind, he can come across that way with his lack of natural kindness. This results in lots and lots and lots of discussions about what is kind behavior and what is not.  Today, explaining to Jordan that what he had done WAS kind took just as much effort as explaining why some things he does aren't kind...

Having been sick in bed most of the day, Kacey didn't get to eat dinner with the family.  When Kacey emerged from her room awhile later, Jordan asked if she would like him to make her a plate of food because the rest of the family had already eaten.  This seemed quite out of character for Jordan, so Kacey brought it to my attention.

Being impressed with Jordan's thoughtfulness, I wanted to praise him, so I asked, "Jordan, did you offer to make Kacey a plate of food for dinner?"

"NO!" was the response--as if he had stopped listening after "Jordan, did you..." and he was being blamed for something he didn't do.

Knowing Jordan hadn't grasped that I was in the process of praising, I got a little more specific and asked if, when Kacey got out of bed, he had offered to get her some food since she had missed dinner.

The clarification did nothing other than make Jordan more specific with his response which was, "NO! I did NOT offer to make her a plate of food.  I told her that her plate was at the table and she could go make herself some food."

This was one of those times where the connections just weren't coming together.  Because Jordan had assumed whatever I was asking was a result of some misdeed on his part, it didn't matter what I said.  He was bound and determined to deny.

Why would someone deny a good deed?  Doesn't make a lot of sense unless you live with Jordan.  It all goes in the same bucket as not making the connection that someone crying might be sad or someone making a stern face is upset. The version in Jordan's brain didn't match the story we were telling. 

But I know.

And Kacey knows.

By the end of the whole "incident," Jordan was genuinely confused that a kind gesture had come naturally to him, but he managed a smile that seemed to say, "I guess I did good." 

Next time I'll just say, "Hey, Jordan, good job!"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Genius Savant

The other day Jordan helped a neighbor move.  Being kind of new in the neighborhood ourselves, we didn't really know the neighbor, but when Jason learned he needed help, Jason readily offered Jordan's services.

Jordan was the only helper that day.  Jason and I were working and taking the girls to their various activities, so it was just Jordan and a 60-something year-old man.  The neighbor knew nothing of Jordan prior to their day together--just that Jordan was a 17 year-old 175 lb. kid who could probably help lift a few things.  So, for several hours, it was just Jordan and Darnell, a U-haul, and a few trips back and forth.  I would have liked to have been a fly on the dashboard of that U-haul!

Jordan has enough social skills to know not to comment on Darnell's color.  He learned that social skill the hard way when he called a black friend "Nigger" in 9th grade.  To this day, Jordan cannot understand why black people can call other black people that name and be joking and having fun, but when Jordan uses that term, he gets sent to the principle.  Regardless, we were certain color would not come up.

I didn't waste any time worrying about Jordan and the neighbor.  Maybe it was because the neighbor was moving anyway.  Maybe it was because the help was free, so a little enlightening conversation in Darnell's day should have been okay.  After reflecting on his offer of his child's free help, Jason asked me, "Do you think it was okay for me to send Jordan with a virtual stranger?" Hmmm.  Why didn't we think of that before?  I don't know, but the story of "The Ransom of Red Chief" came to mind.  For those of you who don't know the story, to summarize, a little indian was kidnapped and ransom was demanded.  The little indian kid drove the kidnappers so crazy that, by the end of the story, not only had the ransom amount been reduced again and again, but the kidnappers begged to PAY the Indian Chief to take the indian kid back.

I got a call or two throughout the day from Jordan.  One was when Darnell drove into a gate downtown and the police were summoned.  The second was when Jordan wanted to know if I was interested in the salon pedicure chair Darnell offered Jordan as payment for his help. Nothing out of the ordinary for Jordan.

A few days after the move, Jordan asked me if I knew what a genius savant was.  I asked why he wanted to know.  Then Jordan told me about a conversation he and Darnell had.

Darnell: "Why do you think so much?"
Jordan: "Because I have autism."
Darnell: "Oh.  Well you are a genius savant, then, cuz you sure ain't no idiot savant!"

Then Jordan said to me, "I just wondered if you knew I was a genius savant."