Doesn't it seem odd that I can title a post 'Never Known A Stranger' when I am writing about a person with autism? Most, but not all, of course, individuals on the autism or asperger spectrum do not excel in social situations. Kalisha is and always has been an exception to that rule.
She has had to learn a lot of the social graces and still sometimes has no tact, but she has never been shy. When she was very young, we would tell her she was limited to three questions per person. Sometimes she would forget and I would surreptitiously get her attention and hold up three fingers. She knew exactly what that meant. I was told by a professional that her questioning was her way of identifying the person in her mind and not forgetting them.
When she was nine years old, we went to San Francisco to participate in a wine and goat cheese tasting festival at one of the wineries. While her dad and I were answering questions about the cheese, Kalisha was asking questions of everyone who stopped by the tables. One gentleman told us he thought she would grow up to work for the CIA.
If you ever want to find something at a store, just take Kalisha with you. She was probably five the first time I remember talking to myself and wondering aloud where a certain item could be found at Wal-Mart. The next thing I heard was Kalisha's voice, "Excuse me, Sir, excuse me, where can we find the Fisher Price dog with the wagging tail?" She had seen a sales person in another aisle and was going to make certain that he didn't get away. She still does that to this day.
She flew to Texas to see her sister and on her flight home, she was seated next to the president of a university in Fort Wayne. By the time they landed and disembarked, Kalisha had the lady's phone number and e-mail address. (Maybe she should apply at the CIA)
Last weekend we were Christmas shopping at a local department store. I heard someone say hello to Kalisha and then carry on a conversation with her. After she left, Kalisha told me she was the manager of Build-A-Bear at the mall. Obviously, when Kalisha goes to Build-A-Bear, she talks to the employees....a lot.
Shortly after that, I heard Kalisha say, "Hi Wendy!" like she had just spotted a long lost friend. I turned in time to see Wendy Robinson, the superintendant of Fort Wayne Community Schools. Kalisha only knows her from seeing her on TV, but feels like she knows her, so of course, she would feel the need to speak to her.
She always notices peoples' name tags and addresses them by name. Sometimes they are startled when she does that.
Kalisha is a very friendly, knows no strangers kind of person. It can be a blessing, but occasionally it gets her into some not so good situations. It is difficult to help her understand when to engage people, and when not to.