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This may just be my experience as an autistic person, but the kids I’ve nannied whose parent’s complain of ‘bad awful in cooperative selfish autistic behavior’ are… Not like that? At all?

Like, for example, I cared for a kid for a while who was nonverbal and didn’t like being touched. Around six years old? Their parent said that they were fussy and had a strict schedule, and that they had problems getting them to eat. Their last few nannies had quit out of frustration.

So, I showed up. And for the first little while, it was awkward. The kid didn’t know me, I didn’t know them, you know how it is. And for the first… Day and a half, maybe? I fucked up a few times.

I changed their diaper and they screamed at me. I put the TV off and they threw things. Not fun, but regular upset kid stuff.

Next time, I figured, hell, I wouldn’t like being manhandled and ordered around either. Who likes being physically lifted out of whatever it is they’re doing and having their pants yanked off? Fucking few, that’s who.

Next time, I go, ‘hey, kiddo. You need a new diaper?’ and check. ‘I’m gonna go grab a new one and get you clean, okay?’ ‘Wanna find a spot to lay down?’ ‘Alright, almost done. Awesome job, thanks buddy’.

I learned stuff about them. They liked a heads up before I did anything disruptive. They didn’t mind that I rattled of about nothing all day. They didn’t like grass or plastic touching their back. They were okay with carpets and towels. They liked pictionary, and the color yellow, and fish crackers, and painting. They didn’t look me in the face (which was never an issue- I hate that too, it fucking sucks) but I never had reason to believe that they were ignoring me.

Once I learned what I was doing wrong, everything was fine. Did they magically “”“become normal”“” and start talking and laughing and hugging? No, but we had fun and had a good time and found a compromise between what I was comfortable with and what they were comfortable with. (For the record, I didn’t magically sailor-moon transform into a socially adept individual, either. In case anyone was wondering.)

I don’t like eye contact. It’s distracting and painful and stresses me out.

They didn’t like eye contact either.

Is eye contact necessary to communication? No. So we just didn’t do it.

Was there ever a situation where I HAD to force them to drop everything and lay down on the lawn? No. So the thirty second warning came into play, and nobody died.

“But they never talked!”

No, they didn’t. And they didn’t know ASL, and they didn’t like being touched.

So you know what happened?

My third day in, they tugged on my shirt. ‘Hey monkey, what’s up?’ I asked. And they tugged me towards the kitchen. ‘oh, cool. You hungry?’. They raised their hands in an ‘up’ gesture. ‘you want up? Cool.’ and I lifted them up. They pointed to the fridge. I opened it. They grabbed a juice box out of the top shelf, and pushed the door closed again. ‘oh sweet, grape is the best. You are an individual of refined taste.’ I put them down and they went back to their room to play Legos.

“But they didn’t say please or thank you!” “But you should be teaching them communication skills!” “But!” Lalalalala.

1. The entire interaction was entirely considerate and polite. I was never made uncomfortable. I was made aware of the problem so that I could help them solve it. There was no mess, no tears, no bruises, no shouting.

2. Did my brain collapse into a thousand million fragments of shattered diamond dust out of sheer incomprehension? No? Then their communication skills were fine. Goal realized, solution found, objective complete. They found the most simple and painless way to communicate the situation and then did it.

Kids are not stupid. AUTISTIC kids are not stupid.

I’m willing to bet real cash money that the real reason the last few nannies had quit had a million times more to do with their own ability to cope, not the kid’s.

To this day, that was the most relaxed and enjoyable job I’ve ever had.

And I know I don’t speak for everyone. All kids are different. All adults are different. But in my time and experience, pretty much 95% of all my difficulties with children come from ME not being understanding enough. Every single “problem child” I’ve worked with turned out to be a pretty cool person once I started figuring out how to put my ego aside and let them set the pace.

Again, not speaking universally, here. I’m just saying. Sometimes social rules are bullshit, you know? People are people

Have you ever read an article about the study that found that teaching the parents to cope with autistic kids yields better results than other therapies? Because this is exactly what they were talking about.

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