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Friday, June 15, 2012

Barbie Bummer

The Asperger's traits addressed in this post include:
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Rule-bound behavior

While watching a video lecture by Tony Attwood on the topic of Asperger's syndrome, I received new insight on an experience I had in childhood. Tony Attwood describes part of the way he diagnoses or rules out Asperger's syndrome in children. He reads the child a story about a little girl who really, really wants a puppy for her birthday, but instead she receives a book. In the story, the little girl smiles at her parents and says, "Thank you. I like the book very much." Tony Attwood explains that when he asks why the girl in the story would say that, children without Asperger's know immediately that it's because she wants to be nice to her parents and not hurt their feelings by saying she was disappointed not to get a puppy. Children with Asperger's, says Attwood, can come to the same conclusion, but only after thinking it through carefully. This example shows the Aspie preference for openness and honesty over shielding other people's feelings from being hurt.

This example brought back a memory of a time when I received a gift I didn't like. As I remember, the gift was not from a relative but from an acquaintance of my parents, a lady I never saw again. I don't believe it was Christmas or my birthday either, so the fact that I was getting a gift at all made me excited. I had more than the usual anticipation in opening my present, and I really didn't have a clue what it could be. I just didn't expect it to be a Barbie doll. But it was. And I hated it.

For most seven-year-old girls, a Barbie doll like this one would bring ecstatic joy . . . but for whatever reason, I didn't want any more Barbie dolls. I did not have a large collection and seldom played with the ones I had. I played along when visiting other little girls who wanted to "play Barbie," but I'd rather have played almost any other game instead.

So I was disappointed. The next thing I knew, the nice lady who had given me this unwanted toy was asking, "Do you have one already?"

"No," I stuttered. "I don't have one already. Thank you very much." At that point, my mom started enthusing over the gift for me, and all I had to do was nod and attempt to smile when she said, "Ooh, isn't she pretty, Sharon Rose? Look at her sparkly gown and long, blonde hair!"

Of course, I had been ready and willing to say, "Thank you very much," when I opened my present. I knew enough to be polite when receiving a gift. And I actually wanted the lady to think I was happy with my present. What shocked me was that she realized I was disappointed in my gift without my saying so. I guessed by the way she asked if I already had the same doll that she could tell I was unhappy, and she was trying to guess the reason. I didn't like her knowing I was disappointed when I hadn't said so.

It was the first time I can remember realizing that my face communicated my feelings.

How this topic applies to Christian living:

Proverbs 15:13
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.