The Compliment of Autism

16 Sep

My mom always said I was a horrible recipient of a compliments. I’d find a way to put myself down, side step the issue, or redirect the conversation. “Queen of the Dodge,” she’d say.

When talking to a client about how well he has been managing the transition from elementary to middle school, I mentioned that his teacher was supremely impressed. “‘If all of my students were like Garrett, I’d be the luckiest teacher in the world’,” I recounted verbatim from his teacher.

“Like what?” Garrett asked. “Autistic?”

Initially, I thought, “Garrett, come on, you are missing the point. Accept the compliment and let’s use this as a starting point for more positive self-talk. Don’t be  King of the Dodge.”

Then, I realized, he wasn’t disagreeing, shirking, or even changing the subject. Just the opposite, in fact. Not only did Garrett view his diagnosis as his primary identification. He also recognized his diagnosis as the critical component for his success. He wasn’t deflecting the compliment — he was qualifying it.

I guess I keep the crown. In this case, I’m glad.

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Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Educating the NTs


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