I have a client that has Asperger's Syndrome. One of the symptoms of it is being unaware of social boundaries or appropriate behavior; often individuals with it simply do not know how to function socially.
In addition to this, she also has the Church Lady Syndrome. While my other clients with Asperger's are genuinely sweet souls that are simply trying to learn the skills that will allow them to fit into the world of employment, she is actually very judgmental and stubborn. Needless to say, it's difficult to coach someone that is constantly reprimanding me.
Last week when I arrived for my meeting with her, she was already there waiting in the lobby. Our appointment was at 10:00, and I arrived at 9:50. I said hello to her and told her I'd be out to get her as soon as I settled in and got the computer up. I called her back at 9:57.
As soon as she walked in and sat down, she told me that I must have gone the wrong way in traffic and that if she'd taken that route, she'd have been, "later than you."
"Our appointment was for 10:00, R, and we actually started a few minutes early."
"Well I've been here since 9:30, and you weren't".
"Right. That's great that you're early, but that doesn't mean that I was late."
"But I was sitting here, waiting for you, and you must have taken the wrong way because you weren't here when I was."
"R, our appointment was at 10:00. If we were starting after that time, I would have been considered late, but the fact is that I was on time and you were simply early."
"Well, you should always be early. You should know that if you're supposed to be teaching people how to get a job."
I stopped myself then; the woman has lost so many jobs because of her inability to function within a work environment--I knew that arguing this point was mute.
At today's appointment, the first thing that she did when she sat down was say, "I see you have a sore." The snarky woman living in my head replied, "Really? Hadn't noticed."
Instead, I told her that yes, I did and explained that I had drank lemon water and that whenever I have citrus, I end up with cold sores. To which she replied:
"Those are herpes. You get it from sex."
At that point, I was leaning over into my briefcase, pulling out her file. Initially, I told myself, "She did.not.just.say.that." I sat up ramrod straight in my chair and looked pointedly at her.
"No, R, there are many different strains of herpes and what I have is not the one associated with sex. I've had them since I was a child."
"No, it's herpes and you get it from boys."
I tilted my head and bit my lip.
"I think I'm more familiar with my medical conditions than you, and actually, you saying that is completely inappropriate. That is not something that you'd say to a fellow employee or colleague."
"Well, whatever you say, I know how you got it." Her eyes challenged mine as I sat there for a few moments; a battle waging within my head. It was ugly.
In one scenario, I asked her if she knew how a person would get a black eye.
In another, she had a conversation with the person that referred her to me, talking about Jenn, her case worker with herpes that was always late.
In another, I just laid my head on the desk and cried.
I ended up telling her that discussing this issue was not in any way pertinent to what we were doing that day and that we needed to move along. She accepted this with a self-satisfied smile--certain that she'd just put her slutty placement specialist in her place.
When we ended our session and I handed her an appointment card, she visually flinched when she took it from me with her fingertips.
"Well, I guess you better take care of yourself for our appointment next week."
"Thanks R. I will."
I glanced up from my case notes and she was still standing there, looking at me. For one second I thought that maybe that was her way of caring, that she was concerned for me, that despite her delivery, she was just trying to help, and there I was, judging her, thinking very unkind thoughts about her.
"So that you won't be late anymore or get anymore herpes sores". (Not even "cold sores", but "herpes sores".)