The first was with friends. One of my friends wasn't talking much and looked over at me with tears at one point. I just looked back and couldn't speak or act - I was frozen. I had no idea what to do. I tried to look at my other friend to convey the need to break conversation and do something, but I couldn't even do that. In a few minutes, she realized the situation and went over to hug our friend. I stayed in my chair because I didn't think it would help for me to squeeze in among them, too. My friend did ask me to pray, though - and I could do that much. Later, as they talked, I just listened. I didn't know what to contribute. I didn't know what my friend was thinking or feeling or what words to bring to that - should I speak encouragement or ask questions and listen? I just listened and prayed. Then as the situation calmed and the conversation trailed off, I offered to make my friend some tea. I felt very bad, but I hoped she felt better. In The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome, Tony Attwood writes:
"Being unsure of what someone may be thinking or feeling can be a contributory factor to general feelings of uncertainty and anxiety." page 121
"Typical children quickly suggest words or gestures of affection to cheer her up. Children with Asperger's Syndrome tend to prefer a practical action to make her feel better, such as getting her some tissues for the tears, making her a cup of tea..." page 134
"'I knew she was upset, but I didn't want to do the wrong thing.'" page 135
Another situation was with a family. I visited them after church and their children warmly engaged me in conversation and activities. As I was sitting in the car on our way back from church, they talked to me. But I think I had a very blank look on my face. I wasn't sure what to say. I wasn't sure if it was ok to turn their empty plastic cups upside down and tap the ends and pop them. Should I smile and laugh with them or are they not allowed to make this much noise in the car? In between the smile and the frown I was just...trying desperately to do something and feeling like a deer in the headlights. I ended up following them around and feeling like I had zero level of authority. I was lost. They were super sweet, though, so it was very kind of them to let me visit :) Tony Attwood writes:
"...the child...[uses] intellectual abilities rather than intuition to determine what to say or do." -page 46
Other situations like these have happened recently, too. It leaves me to wonder - what can I do? How do I know what the guidelines are if they aren't explicitly laid out? How can I understand another person's intention? How do I know when to encourage versus when to correct? How do I know my own intentions (there seem to be none, just things I have to do)? How can I have a sense of authority when with children when I feel like the child in need of instruction?