Moving past assumptions

Never assume

There is an old saying “when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me”, yet I think it’s something we do all the time. To an extent, human nature.

We make assumptions based on the information we’ve already learned, when making decisions for the future. We base our behaviour on assumptions we make of others behaviours; assuming we understand what has motivated them to act in a particular way.

In my experience, we often assume that people know the things we know; not wanting to offend by asking them, or sometimes not even thinking they wouldn’t. We assume that others will do things in a similar way we do  – because surely, that’s how it’s done?

Of course this doesn’t always end well. Actions don’t meet with expectations and assumptions are uncovered.

But a lot of the time, I think it goes mostly unnoticed. We assume that others know what is happening.

One of the big lessons I took from the Victorian Autism Conference last week was that I make too many assumptions, especially when it comes to Poss and her understanding of the world.

Her social language is limited, yet I assume she understands much more than she probably does. I forget in the rush of life, especially when she is coping well with things, that she might not get it, might not understand.

Our language is littered with euphemisms and idioms, and I think someone quoted at the conference that there are literally millions of social and cultural ‘rules’ that inform our daily interactions with each other.

I tested this over the weekend. We were watching an ad for a shopping centre. The screen showed a city made of shopping bags, the tag line was something like ‘a world of shopping’. I asked her what she thought the ad was for – she had no idea. “Maybe a world made of shopping bags? Wouldn’t they get wet when it rains?”

I asked her “how does it make you feel?”. “Confused”, she said. “I don’t like ads. They’re all confusing, that’s why I like to fast forward them”.

Aha. Right. She does tape almost all her shows on IQ and fast forwards the ads, getting panicky if she has to watch them. I just assumed she hated ads – don’t we all? I didn’t realise how confusing they were for her.

I am not sure how to uncover all of these assumptions, to find out the extent of what she does know. Or maybe more importantly, I am not sure how important it is either? Will she ask eventually?

For the moment, I guess we will just keep checking she gets it. Not assume she knows. Write her social stories without the assumptions and keep fast forwarding the ads.

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  1. i think you are right. we assume we know our kids best, sometimes without questioning..
    i find motherhood quite confusing at this point, and i feel overwhelmed by what i learn now, how this world – that is upsetting even from our point of view – looks for him.
    we are a bit at war with commercials also, me and my husband can’t help commenting on the particularly dumb ones and when they come up again, Nemo has this urge to repeat our comments, every time they show them, even if it’s say, 50 times already. I think now it may be a form of echolalia but when we tell him ALRIGHT-y WE KNOW-oh! we assume he should be able to ignore it, just like us, instead of being triggered, again and again.
    so much to learn, and i did not know the saying for ASS U ME.
    good on your daughter to be able to just skip the ads to see her shows.
    (psst! are you living IN Melbourne, ya? because… uhm.. )
    nikki recently posted..Dear Diary…! we made a friend and we might move to Melbourne.My Profile

    • Oh my goodness – the echolalia drives us NUTS! We know it’s her way of making sense of her world, but it’s so. freaking. annoying!

      And yes… we are in Melbourne!!

  2. I love reading your insights into Poss’ world, Renee. I honestly couldn’t count the number of times I’ve read one of your posts, really thought about it, and realised that the same thing rings true for my little brother. If not 100% accurate, pretty darn close. I’m going to quiz him on this one… X
    P.s – Also hadn’t heard the ‘assume’ saying. But love the hell out of it.
    Bec | Bird with a chip recently posted..I heart PinterestMy Profile

    • Hmmm – it’s a conversation Ms K and I have had a number of times; I am sure it’s why both of them get on so well! And glad you learned a new saying – happy to help! 😉

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