Autism and disconnects

Jeff Katz

“How was your American Government test Nate?” Nate had been studying hard for at least one week, both independently and with me in preparation for his first test. This semester is turning out to be a tough one for Nate. There’s no course in his Graphic Design major, and those are the ones where his strengths are most clear.

“I think I mostly passed.” Now what does that mean?

Elise grimaced and told me she thought he failed, but that he probably got half right. She knew that he knew more though. That’s always the most difficult part, knowing how much effort he puts in and how erratically he puts out. I’ve studied with him for years, and he can get a 0 or a 100, despite identical dedication and work. The noble me feels that what’s important is that he tries hard. The baser me wants him to get good grades.

Since the test, Nate has been harping on the result, which we don’t know yet.

“I don’t want to fail! I want to do better!”

“Nate, I think you should study all your class notes every day. If you want to pass you have to work harder.”

Some grumbling, not much. Connecting the need for increased effort to improved results is a skill Nate doesn’t come near having. I was reminded of an earlier episode, a rare moment when Nate recognized his social situation.

This was in high school, maybe 10th grade. Nate was sitting in his favorite chair in front of our oldest color TV. That’s his station. As I walked passed him on my way from the kitchen to the big TV room, he spoke.

“I don’t have any friends.” He said it devoid of inflection, but the fact he said it at all stunned me. I always took great comfort in Nate’s asocial-ness. I figured if he didn’t realize how alone he was, then he wouldn’t be sad about it. But he knew, and he was.

So I turned left and plopped myself down into the blue damask sofa behind his seat.

“Nate, if you want friends, you have to talk to people. You can tell them the things you like doing and are interested in, but you have to ask them what they like too.”

“OK, I’ll try,” but he replied disinterestedly. He was past it already.

He’s never mentioned friends since then. I don’t know whether he thinks about it much or not. At school, he’s a bit more social; at home much more so.

But does Nate really know that how he acts leads to certain results, whether in his studies or his interaction with others? I don’t think so and I still don’t know how to teach him that.

Courtesy of Mission of Complex

Related Articles

Autism & compassion

Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Compass ..

read more

Autism advocacy – making sure we don't lose ourselves along the way

advocacy – active support of an idea or cause etc.; especially the act of pleading or arguing for something ..

read more

Video: "Parent Coach" Bonnie Bogen - a resource for parents of kids on the autism spectrum

Seeking advice from seasoned experts that have "been there, done that" is nothing new. "Parent Coaches" - now ..

read more

Our Support Community

Join our free support community and connect with thousands of other families and individuals touched by ASD. Find out what’s working for others, coping strategies, and life guides from others living what you’re going through now. Click here to join for free!

Resources in Your Area

Looking for autism resources nearby? Check our listings for professionals and services that might help.

Post your services | Help out in general


9th World Rett Syndrome Congress
Surfers Paradise, QLD - Australia
Sep-30-2020 - 09:00 am
The Rett Syndrome Association of Australia (RSAA)email rettaust@bigpond.comwishes to draw attention to the fact that it is staging the 9th World Rett Syndrome Congress i ..
Go to Event site

view all events