My Rules, Your Rules


The parent of an AS child wrote that her son was very rule-oriented except when it came to his own behavior, where it was more a case of "anything goes." She could not understand this apparent contradiction. When several other parents wrote to thank me for the insight my response gave them, I decided to post it here. (Until then, I'd assumed I was pointing out something more or less obvious to all.) What I had written in response to the original parent's comment was:

What makes that not a contradiction is his POV. (Point of view) He has complete access to his own mind (as much as anyone does) and to how his mental world determines what he does. So there is a continuous stream of explanation going on inside him that supports whatever behavior he exhibits. I'm sure he always has a logical reason (though it may not seem logical to anyone but him :-) ) for what he does.

Other people, however, and especially children (who are less predictable than adults) are "closed books" to him. If they do not follow the rules, he has no way to predict how they will behave. It is important for AS people (esp. as children) to feel confident that the world will remain "safe," and that means it must be predictable. The failure of other people to behave as expected (i.e, their failure to follow the rules as we understand them) takes a lot of getting used to!

Perhaps a shorthand way to say this is: At this point, your son has learned to make new rules for his own behavior but he has not yet come to accept that other people are doing the same.



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