I’m very thankful not to have had to deal with being picked on at school the way that a lot of people with Asperger’s have.  I think that part of this is because I’ve always been a shy, compliant person.  I spend a lot of time and energy trying to overcome the fear of possibly offending someone.  If I don’t know the right thing to say or do, I’m more likely to try to fade into the background than to speak up with something that people might possibly see as inappropriate.  (Of course, the avoidant approach brings its own problems.)

But my classmates also deserve a lot of credit for being patient and kind with me and shrugging off my idiosyncracies.  There’s one time in particular that makes me laugh when I look back on it now, because if ever I deserved to be given a hard time, this was it!  The culprit was my literal mind that sought to follow all rules to the letter.

We were in 7th grade, and we were in Mrs. R.’s classroom for grammar.  I loved grammar– especially sentence diagrams.  Everything in the workbook was about remembering and applying rules.  It was like math with words.

Our teacher, Mrs. R., had given us a couple sections from the workbook to do, and she had us trade papers with a neighbor so that we could grade each other’s work before handing them in.  Each of the two sections consisted of a list of sentences, and the instructions were to mark specific words within those sentences (adverbs, prepositions, or something like that).

My classmate had gotten most of the sentences right.  But there was still something wrong.  The first section’s instructions said to circle the correct words, while the second section said to underline the correct words.  (There was no particular reason for the change; the task in both sections was the same.)  My classmate had circled words in both sections!

I had to find out what to do, so I raised my hand to ask Mrs. R. a question.  “What if someone circled the words instead of underlining them?”  I’m not sure if she had noticed that the sections had different instructions.  “Well, it’s important to read the instructions,” she said (I’m paraphrasing).  “If you circled instead of underlining, you didn’t follow the instructions.”  So, I dutifully marked every answer in the second section on the page wrong.  If any other students had made the same mistake, they probably also saw their grade on that page reduced by 50%.

I really didn’t think much of it at the time, but now that I look back on it, it’s kind of amazing I didn’t get stuffed into a locker or something for that, isn’t it?  😀

It’s good to keep things like this in mind when other people do things that frustrate me.

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