Daniel is incredibly kind. Empathy is supposed to be a struggle for Aspies. I used to be able to see that clearly with Daniel. However, he also picks up the “rules of interaction” quickly and applies them in ways that are quickly masking his lack of intuition regarding other’s emotions. Sometimes, his strict adherence to his personal rules of social interaction make him notably thoughtful.
Last week, I attended the open house at Daniel’s former and Robert’s current elementary school. I stopped into Daniel’s former ESE teacher and current tutor, Mrs. T****’s room. Daniel’s 4th grade teacher, Mrs. G****** was there visiting. I was glad to see her. I congratulated her on her pregnancy and she asked how Daniel was doing at middle school.
“You know,” she told me after we had spoken a moment,”my birthday is January 2nd. The kids are always at Winter Break during my birthday so I never get a “happy birthday” from my students. However, Daniel came back the first day after Winter Break and the first thing he said was, ‘Happy Belated Birthday Mrs. G!’ I couldn’t believe he remembered.”
Her story made me smile. I remembered Daniel telling me about Mrs. G’s birthday. He had it in his mind that NO ONE ever told her “Happy Birthday” and was very concerned. Even after I explained that she probably meant just her students, he wasn’t completely convinced. However, his concern had made him memorable to his teacher, in a good way.
This happens quite frequently with Daniel’s teachers. They will share how difficult it can be to get Daniel to focus, to push himself yet another day or to reign in his frustration and in the same breath say, “but he is just the sweetest kid! I just love that boy!”
I injured my left scapular muscles during a swim this week. By the end of my afternoon, I was laying on an ice pack in a bit of pain. Daniel was oblivious at first. However, after I had explained that I needed him to bring his agenda to me to sign because I was hurting and couldn’t get up, everything changed. He leapt up to get the door when my husband came home with arms full of take-out for dinner. He got everything set up for the younger girls to prevent me from having to do it. He cheerfully completed the dishes after dinner so I wouldn’t have to stand at the sink.
The most touching act of kindness occurred shortly after the bullying issue at school. Daniel was given Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-it-yourself Diary for Christmas nearly 2 years ago. He began filling it out with his writing, drawings and personal comics. Eventually, he found the structure of the book to confining and started his own diary in a composition notebook. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-it-yourself Diary was set aside.
On Wednesday, we discovered that in a jealous outburst his younger brother had scribbled all over the cover and on each and every page of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-it-yourself Diary. All of Daniel’s pictures, stories and drawings were ruined. He was upset. I was furious.
“I forgive you,” was Daniel’s quick but sincere response.
“That is very generous of you, Daniel,” I complimented him.
“Well, I know what it is like to be jealous,” Daniel explained, “I am jealous of Robert all the time,” he continued point towards his brother, “Everything comes so easy to him. He can read and gets straight A’s while I have to really work just to get some A’s and B’s.”
Daniel was calm, almost good natured as he hugged his brother and headed off to watch tv but Robert’s face looked like he had been punched in the stomach. The simple admission from Daniel, spoken without anger or malice had changed Robert’s paradigm completely. In that moment, he had learned more then all of my talking could have taught him.