Rudeness as a matter of perspective

I recently had an interaction with a teenage boy with ADD and Autism. I give that background only to inform generalities of what his perspective is. He said something to me with a very sharp tone of voice and with words that were quite cutting. He took that position that since he wasn’t intending to be rude, then he was not being rude. I tried a few different ways to give my perspective that actually, it is up to the person who is HEARING the word or tone of voice as to whether or not it is rude. We went round and round the hamster wheel a few times sharing our competing perspectives on this.

This was a tricky concept for the black and white thinking of a middle school boy with Autism. He had a clear understanding that if he was saying words that were intended to clarify or give his opinion on a matter and the intent was harmless, then there was no way this could be considered rude.

I stopped my part of the discussion, knowing that on that day, at that time, he was unlikely to change his mind. But this is a topic that I will continue to support him to understand. He doesn’t have to adopt my way of thinking or take my suggestion to change his actions, but it is important that he learn, on some level, that what other people perceive is partly his responsibility. He is a person who functions in a world with others and learning the interplay between perception and intent will likely help him to be more successful in that world.