As I mentioned in a previous post, Tom has a strongly developed sense of justice. Plenty of us (ASD or not) have a strong sense of justice, however it has been said that those with ASD often have a stronger sense or right and wrong because of their more black and white thinking – their values and beliefs can tend to be uncompromising and strong. Tom’s sense of justice extends to others having to follow the rules strictly during game play (of course this rigidity does not necessarily apply to himself), not getting into trouble for something he does not perceive as wrong (eg calling someone rude when they WERE being rude!) and also bearing a grudge against those who do unjust things to him, to others and especially to James!!!!!
One child, who we shall call “John” was routinely giving James a hard time. Now James was not always entirely innocent in all this however Tom was utterly incensed by John’s conduct and would not let it go. John’s name often came up in talk about the school day and Tom would become furious at the antics of this “rude, ignorant child” (his words!) over the course of the school day.
One day as we were disembarking from our car at the local shopping centre I heard Tom say urgently to James, “James! There’s that rude boy John over there!” I redirected them and we headed off up into the shopping centre to collect a few small items. The boys were animatedly talking to one another as I collected the bread and then headed towards the milk section. Tom said, “Mum, I’ll be back in a minute OK? I just need to go and get something!” and with that, he departed swiftly from my sight. It was only as I watched the back of him disappear that I had cause to wonder if this was in any way connected to John’s presence in the store. Sadly, I was right! Tom was quietly stalking John, waiting for his opportunity to tell John and his mother just how incredibly rude and ignorant his behaviour was. Yikes!
Another day I arrived at school to find James mid-meltdown over a soccer incident during which he had an altercation with two of his peers about the rules of the game (are you picking up on a theme here?) Tom was beside himself with fury about how James had been treated by the boys. There was much ranting from Tom about how he would “get those boys later” and that they should be “taken to the Principal’s office and sent away from this school forever!” and the old favourite “They will burn to pieces in the devil’s hideout!” Eventually, I got them both into the car. Each day I need to check that the boys have brought everything they need home with them. On this particular day James had forgotten his iPad which sent him off into meltdown mode again. Tom piped up with, “Don’t worry, James. I’ll go up and get it for you!” which I thought was lovely and helpful, and I told him so. Again, as I watched Tom’s pace pick up as he left the car I wondered if some form of retribution was about to occur. I was right! As he got back into the car he passed the iPad to James and said, “Well … THEY won’t be rude to you again! I have avenged you!” Apparently, they had been given a stern talking to as he indignantly departed from the classroom, iPad in hand.
Having a strong sense of right or wrong is to be valued, ASD or no ASD. It bears keeping in mind though for parents, teachers and friends of those with ASD children that they may often find it difficult to view a situation from another’s point of view. They can sometimes be very black and white, and uncompromising in their beliefs and thoughts. They may also bury their fury deep down and it may resurface out of nowhere at some later time. The best thing we can do is keep the lines of communication open and acknowledge their thoughts and concerns. I for one am pretty happy that these two boys have one another’s backs and that they are able to stand up for what they believe is right and good. Benjamin Franklin can rest assured that his hopes will be upheld.