Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How to Say Leave Me Alone, Nicely

The man my son met at the bus station a week or so ago has called him several times a day since then. He has sometimes left a message, but mostly he has not. My son stopped answering the calls after the first two.

This is an unusual situation for neuro-typical people, but – I suspect – much more common for our trusting children and young adults with social communications problems. My son was torn between wanting to be nice to someone who needed a friend, and wanting to ignore a man who was pretty much stalking him. My son never felt threatened, but he did start to get the sense that this friendship was destined to go nowhere. He did not want to hurt the man’s feelings, but the constant calls were getting to be a distraction.

I suggested to my son that he let the man know that classes were demanding and he was very busy – too busy to meet, and even to busy to chat on the phone. I suggested that he close the conversation with “Maybe we’ll run into each other downtown some time.”

My son made that difficult phone call last night. He waited until after 11, thinking the fellow would be sleeping and he could just leave a message, but he answered and they talked for a few minutes. I think my son handled it perfectly. He felt badly, but he also felt relief. I did too.

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