Thursday, February 23, 2012

ROL: Confirm Terms.

ROL (Return On Life) is a soft measurement for lifestyle comparable to the hard marketing measurement, ROI (Return on Investment). ROL addresses small or simple life changes that can greatly improve quality of life. This week's ROL is about speaking the same language.
Saturday Stuff.
I had a long to-do list for last Saturday. The primary item on Saturday's to-do list was to take Little Suzy to the library to get a biography for an oral book report. Usually, when I have to take Little Suzy somewhere, Mario (my son) prefers to stay home for unfettered Wii and all things Mario (the plumber). I always ask Mario if he wants to come with, knowing the answer is usually no. Much to my surprise, Mario said "OK, We're going to the public library, right?" "Yes, Mario. We're going to the public library".
Not That Library.
I briefed the kids about a stop at Big Box Mart before going the library. When we arrived at Big Box Mart, Mario said "Dad, I don't want to go in. Can I start walking and meet you at the library?".
"Mario, the library is 5 miles away. You can't walk to the library.", I replied.
     Mario responded, "NO, the library is just down the street."
"Mario, we're going to the library on 2nd Street.", I answered.
North Suburban Branch Library, Loves Park, IL

     Angrily, Mario said, "YOU said we were going to the public library. The library on 2nd Street is the North Suburban Library."
"Mario, they're all public libraries. The library on 2nd Street is the North Suburban Branch of the public library.", I answered.
    Mario ended the conversation, "Maybe, but that's not what the sign says."
OK, But That's Not The Library You Said.
The whole public library/North Suburban Library conversation may seem like minutiae, but Mario has Asperger's Syndrome.  Aspies are very literal and often inflexible, so to an Aspie, the North Suburban Library is significantly different than the public library. These seemingly insignificant differences can end a day or waste many hours for an Aspie. On this Saturday, Mario rose above it all (after 5 minutes).  A successful library trip and a good day was had by all.
Lesson Learned.
This is a wonderful lesson Aspies can teach the non-Aspie enabled world. It's easy to assume everyone is talking about the same thing, even with simple terms. Simple terms don't necessarily mean similar and certainly don't mean the same terms. Little differences can have major implications and turn good exchanges bad. Taking a moment to confirm terms keeps life simpler and more enjoyable.

Do you have any examples of finding out something you said was heard differently than it was intended? How did everything turn out?


  1. Barry,

    Great lesson for us all to learn, thank you.

    I have learnt that meaning can often be misunderstood if we rely solely on email to communicate. It is always better to pick up the phone and talk. Last night I got bent out of shape after receiving an email. This morning I picked up the phone and chatted with the sender. Turns out that I had completely missed the underlying tone of the email and should have been rather pleased to receive it rather than entirely put out by it.

    Sometimes the simplest of lessons from those around us can teach us so much!


    1. It's true that email doesn't convey tone of voice. I often use sarcasm or irony but need to be very careful about the recipient, they may not share my sense of humor. I also find often that service providers tend to speak in industry shorthand or industry jargon. I'm not sure if their doing that as a technique to keep me off guard or merely ignorant of the need to speak in simple common language.

      Thanks for stopping by and keep fighting the good fight for leadership.

  2. My son is an Aspie and we go through this song and dance quite a bit. I tend to believe the "given" part of a situation is obvious to him. I should know better by now I just assume since he's 11 years old that he understands more now.

  3. C,
    Our boys are of similar age. The whole library thing blew me away. Even with an Aspie child, I never thought of a library as anything but a public library..., at least until last Saturday. What I must remember is he's not going to change, this is how Mario is wired. He may add some coping skills as he gets older, but literal is literal and inflexible is inflexible.

    Thanks so much for stopping by my little blog. Enjoy the time with your son. It's a hoot, isn't it?

  4. Ohh my word, thanks for sharing, i am mom of aspie kid and have no idea how to handle some situations, but your blog makes me feel like i am not alone

    1. R-
      You are not alone. Meet C in the comments just above. Meet @asperger_mom. And meet @aspienaut (an adult Aspie). These contacts are just off the tip of my tongue. There is a wonderful support community out there to help and I'm always here.

  5. Stopping by from the Grow your blog {blog Hop}!

    1. Justine,
      Thanks for stooping by and happy blogging.

  6. Hello there I too have an 11 year old Aspie boy. My Jay definitely keeps things interesting. Just today he said after recovering from a misunderstanding, "We should have our reality TV show!" He is right too! LOL
    I say all the time that I learn so much from my boy. He makes me rethink things,see them from ALL angles and different points of view. I believe we all could benefit from that type of thinking! Enjoyed your post! Please stop by mine sometime too as well as my facebook page which is a community or as I like to say a VILLAGE of parents with Aspie kids!

  7. Sharon,
    I love my Aspie dearly and I am amazed at the kindness, humor and sensitivity that he is capable of sharing. But there is also the flip side that only those parents of Aspie's can understand along with the heartbreak of watching a child grow up with few if any friends. Thank you for stopping by and I'll join your village ASAP.