Caley and I both immediately tensed - Caley because this subject is very triggering for her, considering her elementary school tried to kick her out when she was in fifth grade (despite the fact that she was an honor roll student), and me because, well, I know how triggering it is for Caley. Immediately I, of course, tried to change the topic...but succeeded only in changing it from schools to autism itself, which is potentially even worse!
Bless our grandmother, she actually handled it well, listening to what Caley and I had to say and mostly avoiding offense. But it made me realize what a minefield such conversations are to navigate for people who don't know much about the disability and/or autism community. They don't know it, and even I didn't think about it until last night, but one wrong step, even saying something that most of the world sees as just common sense, can actually be very upsetting and offensive to their audience.
I took several lessons from this conversation. First, giant kudos to our grandma for navigating that conversation without incident. It's a lot harder to do than you'd think, and says a lot about her that she managed to do so. Second, we need to educate the world at large, but especially the friends and relatives of Autistics, who are likely to run into these issues more often than others. And finally, we need to be understanding of people when they do accidentally step on one of these proverbial mines. We should correct and educate, yes, but always with compassion. After all, if we've never taught them any differently, how would they know?