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!!
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)