I had the exterior of my house painted last week. As part of the process, storm windows were removed, and subsequently leaned against the garage door. I remember thinking to myself, "I hope I don't automatically hit that garage door opener button when I drive up the street." Well, Cameron came home from work, and went about his usual routine of walking the dogs, exiting through the garage door. Oops. Luckily, we only lost one window, but the circumstances surrounding the loss of the window were not brought to my attention until five days later. I thought the crew had moved the windows into the garage at the end of the day, and a window had been broken in the process of moving everything in for the night. It wasn't until I was making my punch list for the completion of the project, and asked about the replacement of the glass that I found out Cameron had been involved.
This incident got me thinking about reasonable expectations for Cameron, by me and by society in general. I would've expected Cameron to have said something to me as soon as the incident occurred. And I'm still not quite sure why he didn't. As soon as I asked him about what had happened, he told me the details. He said he didn't say anything when it happened because he was "frustrated." I have no idea how the painters reacted to him at the time, so I don't know where the source of frustration was. But it's these moments when I'm so tempted to play the autism card. Should I say to the contractor, "Hey, my kid has autism, and he was just following his routine. Your guys shouldn't have left the windows against a functioning garage door."? And then I wonder if the autism card is the appropriate card to play. Is the fact that Cameron has ASD even relevant in this matter? I said I was worried myself about accidentally opening the door, so why is my first instinct to explain Cameron's diagnosis as an excuse for what he did?
As I started mulling over my tendency to play that autism card to excuse Cameron, he gave me another opportunity to go for that card. My daughter had a friend over, and the mother and little brother of the friend were visiting during the drop off. Cameron asked if the friend would be going to the movie we planned to see later, and I said that she wouldn't. Cameron's response, in front of the mother, was, "Good!" I pointed out that it was rude to express joy that someone would not be joining, and he made the situation even better by saying, "Well it's just that brother of hers is so annoying." There are times when I feel like hanging a sign around Cameron's neck that says, "If you think I'm rude, get over it. Because I can't." I guess I have my work cut out for me teaching Cameron that being frustrated is not an excuse for being rude. But I also have my work cut out for me teaching myself that autism needn't be the excuse for everything Cameron does that I don't like. Sometimes a pane in the glass is just a pane in the glass.