I went on a mini camping trip the other weekend, in the lovely Turlock Lake State Rec Area. It was quite nice having sun and warmth for a change, wading around in the river, and hanging around with friends I hadn't seen for quite a while. Saturday night, I went strolling around the campgrounds with the organizer and her son; her son is 8 (I think), and definitely on the autistic spectrum. I hadn't really been exposed to high-functioning kids with autism before, only adults, and few people who were both outgoing and autistic. I was mentally hitting checkboxes as I was talking with him and his mom ("flattened tones when talking, check") but it was how he described his social interactions that was the most interesting, in no small part because some of those things mirrored my own childhood experiences. He was able and willing to look at lists of rules, say "this is dumb", and question authority as to why they were enforcing stupid things - but didn't have the acumen to know why one should go along with stupid things anyway. He mentioned his frustration with social skills classes where they use scripts to enact skits - and how he couldn't see the value of enacting the thing when he could just read it, and reading it didn't make a lot of sense anyway. His Theory of Mind is definitely far behind his cognitive development. The most interesting moment was when he was telling me about his stupid vice principal and the rules he was enforcing, and how when challenged about "why does this rule exist?" said Tall One blustered on about authority and listening to adults and crap like that. I laughed ruefully at his exposure to blatant authoritarianism, which made him pause. "Are you laughing at me, or laughing at the story?" he asked, not sounding offended at all, only genuinely curious (if a bit perplexed.) That he was able to formulate the question, read enough of the situation and emotional state to not react defensively, and to trust me enough to actually ask the question with the expectation of getting a response raised my spirits, even if it meant that I had to attempt to give a short explanation of power dynamics to an eight year old. (Couldn't quite tell him, "Oh, go read this when you get back.)
One of my coworkers left the company after four years and change, and announced he was going to be at the local beer garden to celebrate his funemployment. While I've had my tiffs with him, I've known him for about ten years and he's a good egg. Even though I was almost dozing off due to insomnia having caught up with me, I figured I should at least drop by. He'd had a few pints by the time I got there, and was in cheery spirits. (This did not prevent him from bitching about some of the more dysfunctional processes at his now-former workplace.) After a little while, he decided that it was about time to move to an indoor bar; as he was preparing to depart, he told me, "Good to see you!" and made the uniquely-Californian "would you like to shake hands or maybe a hug if you're into that" gesture; when I took him up on the latter option, he grinned and said, "Wow, a hug from the Aspie!" I chuckled and bid them my adieus as they took off. As I walked towards home, though, I was really pretty confused. Said ex-coworker was high up on the list of "Coworkers who I suspect are on the autism spectrum themselves"; furthermore, I don't think I'd ever actually discussed Asperger's with him. It made me wonder if I was displaying more symptoms than usual (or if my brutal repression of some of them were failing), that there was some conversation I missed, or something else entirely. All in all, kinda odd.