Sweet Sarcasm by: Kimberly Larochelle
Sweet sarcasm? The very thought may seem like the biggest oxymoron in the world! Sarcasm, Sweet, I don’t thing so. Of course, when we are victims of sarcasm, it is very cruel. Yet, what if we don’t understand sarcasm? What if we just don’t get it when someone is being sarcastic with us? For instance, What if someone told you, “Well, you look so nice today.” Let’s say they were being sarcastic and so this statement was said with a slur in their voice and a facial expression that didn’t fit with anything nice. Now imagine, that we respond with the sincerest of a “Thank You” to this sarcasm…BECAUSE…we just don’t get it. Even though we don’t understand the slur, it may confuse and upset us, as the words do not seem to match the face.
Now imagine it’s not us at all who experiences this situation…it is our child and we watch painfully as this scenario unfolds. If we have a child with Aspergers or on the Autism Spectrum, no doubt we have endured this torturous experience. We wonder perhaps… Do they understand the sarcasm? If they understand, do they feel hurt and humiliated? Or does the sarcasm even bother them? We don’t know most times and we long for the ability somehow, someway to get inside our child’s head and heart to be able to understand how they perceive these things. That way, we would also know how to pick up the pieces and soothe the specific hurt, if in fact there even were some injury. We just don’t know do we?
I would like to share with you a conversation that I heard from the back seat of my car. This particular conversation came from my two children, one with ASD who has never understood sarcasm and his typical younger sibling, not ASD. It went like this: “Here Jacob…You play the bad Guy.”, said my ASD child as he handed his brother the enemy toy figure. He brother quipped back with a sarcastic smile and slur, “Well, thanks a lot, Levi.” The next statement made me forget to breathe…”Jacob, you’re being sarcastic aren’t you?” What? Did I just hear that right? He recognized “Sarcasm” for the very first time in his life of 11 years! This happened 2 weeks ago and in addition to recognizing more incidents of sarcasm, he has used expressions with double meanings, such as, “Thrown under the bus”, used in the right context, very naturally, and even being able to explain what this expression meant to a younger family member as it’s not meaning a literal bus. Wow!
A sigh of relief also has come over me! Social/Emotional Intellect as it emerges in our children is the best sleeping pill ever! Our children may possess all the intellect in the world, however, as parents, we worry constantly about our children’s ability to find happiness and have successful social / emotional relationships with others. To mature successfully, and thrive as humans, we must be able to incorporate our greatest gift, the Emotional/Social Connection with others. In order for this to be a success, we know that two things must happen: 1. our children must be able to understand others. And: 2. our children must be able to be understood by others. To the extent that this is the case, the more likely we as parents can breathe more sighs of relief as we slowly start letting go and the time comes when they have to make it on their own, if in fact this is possible. It can be a very scary thought even with typical children and much more frightening for our parents with children on the Autism Spectrum.
Things such as sarcasm, humor, pragmatic language, broadminded thought processes, etc., all have huge effects on social/ emotional awareness. The greater the understanding of these socialites, the better the overall understanding of others can be, along with greater understanding of oneself. These very things, can be taken for granted when they are not missing. However, if these have been lost somewhere inside our beautiful children, and then, found, it is like a hidden treasure, worth more than we could ever have thought possible. It is in this instance, you see, that “Sarcasm” can be sweet and as sweet as honey, as long as it is “Understood”.
By: Kimberly Larochelle