Sunday, July 3, 2011

What Comes After Hello?


 The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Rule-bound behavior
*Anxiety and depression
*Too quiet or too talkative

I firmly grasped the telephone receiver and dialed the number of my carpool for elementary school. What was I supposed to say? I knew what the message was, but what would I say exactly?

After a few rings, my classmate's mom answered. She said, "Hello." Oh, of course--Hello! I couldn't go wrong with hello. So I said it--and waited.

"Hello," the voice replied.

Now what? I repeated hello, repeated it again, and got no further instructions. Then I decided she couldn't hear me. "HELLO!" I hollered, to make sure it wasn't a bad connection.

"Who is this?" she asked.

Finally, she had asked a question, and I knew the answer.

The words spilled out. "This is Sharon Rose, and my mom told me to call and tell you that she's going to drive me to school herself tomorrow morning, so you can go ahead without me, and I don't need a ride."

"Okay. That's fine. Thanks for calling and letting us know."

She had said, "Thanks," and therefore, I ought to say, "You're welcome." I did.

The next thing she said was, "Good-bye." What a relief! Not only did I know the appropriate response to good-bye, but once I said it, I could hang up, and the ordeal would be officially over.

"GOOD-BYE."

True story. And a cute story, I think--if I had been 4 years old when it happened. But I wasn't. I was 9 years old and in 5th grade.

How is it possible that a girl who studied a grade above her age level, got straight A's, and won the spelling bee that year didn't know what to say after, "Hello"? It's very possible when that same girl has Asperger's syndrome.

Why did making a phone call on my own make me nervous? (1) I had never tried it before. (2) I had not gotten specific instructions.

Nearly 20 years later, I have made innumerable phone calls and have a mental file folder stuffed with openers, or "scripts," if you will. One of my favorite openers when calling up friends who might be busy is: "Do you have time to chat?" In fact, recently, a friend called and asked if I had time to chat, and I felt almost indignant that he stole my line! It certainly works better than repeating hello, so I guess I can share.

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.