I took JP to yet another birthday party this past weekend. Must say that I enjoyed this one a great deal, not least because the parents were considerate enough to have the football games on a giant screen in the living room, and even better, they were apparently fancy liquor aficionados—I had a top-shelf brown liquor drink in my hand within five minutes of entering their apartment. And they served pizza pockets!
Unfortunately, I screwed the whole thing up. At some point during the party, conversation among a gaggle of parents turned to neat things various children can do. I mentioned a young girl I met recently with Asperger’s Syndrome. I recounted how I gave the girl JP’s date and year of birth and that she was able to tell me what day of the week he was born. I think I said something like, “Pretty useful savant, eh?”
One thing I noticed at the party was how excited the birthday boy’s parents were that he and JP had become friends. They apologized for only having JP over for the party and not for a one-on-one playdate, and their friends all seemed to know who JP was; his friendship with the birthday boy had been discussed in advance. I thought this was a little unusual, but not noteworthy.
What I found out later that day from the birthday boy’s father is that the son has Asperger’s. He was telling me how much their son had thrived in his new school, how he had come out of his shell, and how Asperger’s complicated things. I felt this sinking feeling. Eventually I would go home, the friend would relate what I had said, and then… what?
Had I really done anything wrong? Or was discussing Asperger’s at all sin enough, particularly as I did so from a position of ignorance, and with a posture of slight amusement? I don’t really know, but I hope I didn’t come across as flip as I felt while telling the story. JP really likes this kid, and I’d hate to think I messed it up for him.
Oh well, just being me: dumb.
[Note: I wrote this post one-handed, with Ellie in my arms. I got mad skillz.]