The Story of the Time I Flipped Off Antarctica
When I was in high school I found Geography to be an exceptionally boring class. My teacher was awesome, and he did his best to make it interesting, but, sometimes, there’s only so much you can do when it comes to memorizing countries and capitals. On one fateful Thursday I was sitting there, wriggling around in my tan plastic chair trying to get comfortable, when the assignment of the day slid onto the desk in front of me. Apparently, I was expected to label, color-code, and memorize all the regions of Antarctica.
I don’t know if it was lack of sleep, a still-developing teenage brain, or just a general love of all things rebellious, but seeing that seemingly pointless assignment in front of me ignited a spark of defiance. I scrawled across the top of the page “Dear Mr. Feingold, if you can provide me with a compelling reason for why I will ever need to know this information in my adult life then I will do this assignment.” I then read Harry Potter for the rest of class and turned in my little declaration of independence at the end.
Not surprisingly, at the end of class the next day, Mr. Feingold stopped me before I left, and asked if I could come back to see him at lunchtime. He wanted to have a talk. I felt an icy thrill of fear, but I agreed, fearing the worst.
Later that day, I walked into his classroom, sat down, and waited in apprehensive silence. My Antarctica assignment was out on Mr. Feingold’s desk, and he sat there looking at me steadily. Then he took a deep breath, smiled, and proceeded to change my life.
“You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about what you wrote here, and I think I have an answer to your question for why this is important. Do you want to hear it?”
I nodded slowly. “Go for it.”
“Thank you. Okay, so first of all, you’re probably right that memorizing the geography of Antarctica won’t make a big difference in your adult life, unless you’re planning to go on an expedition there someday. However, this is still important, albeit in a more subtle way. I’m assuming you want to have a career someday?”
“Any particular field?”
“I love psychology.”
“That’s awesome! What do you love about it?”
That was a long list, so I told him the short-and-sweet version.
“Right on. Well, in the psychology field, you’re probably going to need some kind of advanced degree, right?”
I nodded again.
“Okay, then I have some cool stuff to teach you…”
The point being, sometimes when you are talking to people with Asperger's, they might not have already connected the dots between A and B. Be explicit. Lay it out. Help them connect the dots and don't assume they already can.
Note: This was an excerpt from our book "7 Easy Ways To Motivate Someone With Asperger's". Get the whole book here.