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My name is Leanne, I'm 20 years old, and I have Asperger Syndrome (now called High-Functioning Autism).  If you were to just look at my physical features, you wouldn't know that I have any kind of disability whatsoever, but I do.  And although I don't have any physical difficulties, I do have difficulty with certain aspects of language.  For example, when you explain things in the same way to me as you would to a neurotypical person, I might not understand it in the same way.

 

One example is the concept of lying.  My parents just told me that lying is saying something that is not the truth, and that it's wrong to lie.  They didn't explain that it's only considered lying if you know it's not true, and you still say it.  One year, my family was talking about taking a summer trip to Colorado.  At the end of the school year that year (I think it was fourth grade), my classmates and I all had little paper booklets for our classmates and teachers to sign and write notes in.  When I asked my teacher to sign my booklet, she asked me if I was going anywhere on an airplane over the summer (she knew how much I loved flying). I told her that we were going to Colorado.  Later, I overheard my mom talking about how we had changed our summer plans, and we weren't going to Colorado after all.  I was DEVASTATED and embarrassed, because I thought I had lied to my teacher when I told her that we were going to Colorado!  I was afraid that my parents would be disappointed in me if they found out!  After all, they were the ones who told me what lying was.  I was also afraid that if my fourth grade teacher found out, she wouldn't trust me anymore!  When I told my mom that I lied to my teacher about going to Colorado, I was surprised, but relieved by what she said.  She told me, "No, honey, you weren't lying I'd bet you just didn't know the truth.  When you get back to school, you can tell her, we were talking about going to Colorado over the summer, but we changed our plans and decided to just stay home."  Once I had the concept of lying explained to me in a way that I could understand better, I was very relieved!  It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders!  

 

I also have difficulty knowing when it's ok to bend the rules.  In fact, until I was 17, almost 18, I didn't know that it was ever ok to bend the rules!  I thought the rules were just black and white, and that either you're following the rules or you're breaking them! When I was on my senior class trip to New York City, the school speech and language pathologist had decided to go as one of the chaperones.  One day, while we were in New York, she and I were supposed to meet the rest of the class somewhere (I don't remember where, though), and we didn't know how to get there.  I saw her ask a random woman.  The woman didn't look like a police officer or anyone of higher authority.  I turned to my speech therapist and said, "Mrs. White, you did the wrong thing!  You didn't ask a police officer!"  When we got back to school, after the New York City trip, she talked to me about bending the rules.  Before that, if I thought something was against the rules, I would either not do it, or I would be mean to the people who were doing it.  For example, When I was in (I think it was) sixth grade, I told my aide that I didn't like criticism, feed back, raising your voice, etc.  But then, a safety situation came up where she had to do something even though I had already asked her not to.  Well, I thought she was breaking the rule.  I only remembered my parents and teachers from earlier years telling me that when somebody tells you not to do something that means don't do it, without going into detail about situations where you might have to do something regardless of what anyone else says or thinks.  I was REALLY nasty to her after that!  Now, I would usually know to ask for clarification.  I would know to say something like, "Should I do this?"  or, "Were you supposed to do that?"  I think that if somebody had explained bending the rules to me when I was younger, I might've already known to ask if I thought something was against the rules.  

 

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I'm in an internship program at a hospital via my local ARC program.  It consists of 3 12 week internships with a 2 week break in between each internship.  The first internship I'm doing is at the daycare center at the same hospital where the program is taking place.  I'm working in a room of (I think) mostly 3 and 4 year olds.  I do try to ask for clarification when the kids can hear, so that they know that if they see someone doing something that is not usually acceptable (or if someone is trying to get one of them to do something that is not usually acceptable), they should ask.  I try to 'model' what they should do if they're not sure about something, because I know that kids that age usually learn better through seeing and doing rather than through talking and listening.

 

On President's Day, we talked about how George Washington never told a lie, and then while the teacher was on the subject, he told the class that lying is, for example, saying, "I went potty on the toilet," when really, you didn't.  I pointed out that it's only lying if you know it's not true, and you still say it.  Because I don't want them to have to feel as badly as I did if they say something and then later find out that it's not true.

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When I was interning at the daycare center at the hospital, I was working in a room of mostly 3 and 4-year-olds, and we had one kid who is going to be going to kindergarten in the fall (2014), so I made extra sure to teach her to ask for clarification if she thinks something is against 'the rules.'
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