Look at me while I misunderstand you: A Neurodivergent Morning

The Amazing Craig and I were chatting this morning… but not about anything particularly significant. For us it is more about the few stolen minutes to connect before H awakens and arrives in the kitchen at supersonic-now-I-am-awake-speed as a happy blur. This morning I was checking my email and whatnot before getting ready to head to work and Craig was collecting the garbage from various household bins to be put out at the curb because Wednesday is garbage/recycling day.

Craig was mentioning how much he likes our compost bucket and that we are really doing good things for the environment. He went on to explain the he had just emptied the bucket into the back yard compost container… then he indicated it, and said it was great.

Revealing that I was only half-listening, I looked up from my computer…”What?? What is it you like…?”

“I pointed right to it Leah… I am giving you excellent eye-contact… I am doing everything right.”

“Sorry… hon! Your eye-contact is excellent!”

He is now doing his best Gene Wilder impression and we are both starting to crack up!

“It must be all that Crystal Light Mangosteen Juice I am drinking!”  Craig continues with his sardonic wit, and irony – which I am afraid exposes his attitude toward curing what we both consider a genetic trait in our family. Now I am not saying that there could not be benefits to drinking mangosteen for some people. My Dad, for instance, reports that has been able to greatly reduce some of the anti-inflammatory medication he was taking because of this – and that it is benefiting his kidneys tremendously. I am putting forth however – my doubt that these same healing properties are available in the Crystal Light version to which Craig is referring.

We both laugh… and he adds something sarcastic about Jenny McCarthy.

I quip… “Hey… Look at me while I misunderstand you!”

And the laughter begins anew…

While this statement was quite amusing to us both – it is the perfect embodiment a deeper message about communication.

Look at me while I misunderstand you is a useful reminder that just because a person has skills to communicate and is able to use them to the best of their ability – it doesn’t mean that the message will be noticed and/or acknowledged. Communication takes at least two participants: a sender and a receiver – and the responsibility for effective communication is a shared one.

As a partner to an Autistic person – it might be easy to get into a pattern of assumption that the fault for miscommunication lies with the partner who supposedly is the one with the social communication challenges. But this is wrong: communication is a shared interaction. There are many ways to communicate and interpret communication and the differences between us do not mean one particular way is somehow incorrect or lesser. We don’t always get this right at our house… but I love the effort we are making to improve our skills and effectiveness together!! Both of us!!

And… upon reflection…  it might also be noted that the compost bucket is rather lovely!!


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2012)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
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21 Responses to Look at me while I misunderstand you: A Neurodivergent Morning

  1. I love that phrase “Look at me while I misunderstand you!” It made my morning 🙂


  2. Erin says:

    Yes, “Look at me while I misunderstand you!” is a great phrase. That happens in my house on a regular basis. Out of four people, my husband is the only NT in the house. My husband and I joke a lot about that. We like to say that he is the one who is not “normal”. : )


  3. arianezurcher says:

    Just found you and your blog! Love this post. Thank you E. for tweeting. I was actually trying to figure out how to reply to tweets and then saw E. had tweeted the link to this, then got totally waylaid and had to read this post and now I have the daunting task of trying to figure out how to get back to the tutorial on tweeting, which I so desperately need! And just in case anyone’s wondering, I’m NT challenged. Oh, but you’ve probably already guessed that..


    • Leah Kelley says:

      I love this! Thank you for reading my tale and also for leaving a comment! Perhaps if you leave enough of them they will act like electronic bread crumbs and you will find your way back to where you began! LOL! I hope you wind your way back here again soon 🙂 I will look for you on Twitter!


      • arianezurcher says:

        That is hilarious! So glad you replied because I got a little “notice” that you had and was able to find you again. Oh, boy, do I need to figure out a better way to do all of this. And I never did get back to that tutorial on tweeting!! Luckily my posts are automatically tweeted… I think. Anyway, I have to read your most recent post, before something else distracts me.


  4. A Quiet Week says:

    I enjoyed your cheery post! We are all ASD here and our days are filled with, “What do you mean by that?” It’s good to remember that communication is very complex! 🙂


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thank you. It is nice to look on the lighter side when we are able. That is not always an option – but it sure helps when things get tricky – as they invariably do…


  5. I really loved this Leah!. Like many we have come to realize after our son’s diagnosis that I am married to an aspie as well as parenting one. We have some really crazy miscommunications on a pretty regular basis before getting around to realizing what each of us really meant to say and not what the other interpreted us as saying. it’s both crazy making and hilarious at times.


  6. Jeni Decker says:

    Hey, lady… Look At Me While I Misunderstand You would make a great book title… just sayin’

    You two might think about co-writing one from dual perspectives 🙂


  7. Sue says:

    Definitely can relate to this one! lol


  8. 1funmum says:

    Great blog post great way to start my day. Loved reading all the comments posted here. Lmao to start the day is really just a great way to start the day.


  9. coyotetooth says:

    Now. Although I realise the main focus is communication, my focus remains with the compost bucket. It appears to be a sealed anaerobic system. . . . Oh, I should discuss this with H, and push a more aerobic design, but say to you, “this post continues to make me smile.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leah Kelley says:

      ‘Yote, your compost technology knowledge seems to far exceed mine…

      I can share that the ‘bucket’ is metal and no odors can get out – so it is a fully sealed collection/containment system that allows us to transport it to the compost bin/system in the backyard… which I assume is aerobic (I would rather have the decomposing happen there). Hee hee ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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