Dear Annie: In my circle of friends, there is a 23-year-old man with Asperger’s syndrome who drives me crazy. This guy has zero understanding of boundaries. He’ll argue, interrupt conversations and answer back to everyone, and he lectures incessantly. He once spent an evening interrupting every conversation I had until finally I said, “Joe, I’m talking to someone else now. Enough.” He went to interrupt someone else.
When we went to someone’s house recently, he walked in the door, asked the hostess to go to the store and buy him something he wanted and then requested that she loan him a bunch of DVDs.
Here’s the problem. We’ll be going out together as a group to a concert, and afterward, I’d like to invite some friends back to my place. I only have seats for seven people, and I don’t want to include Joe. I know he will ask to use my computer, make ridiculous requests, ask to borrow my stuff, go through my closets and monopolize every conversation.
How do I politely leave him out? Shouldn’t there be an expectation of proper courtesy and etiquette? – Bob
Dear Bob: Yes – and no. Someone with Asperger’s is unlikely to understand these expectations and needs to be taught. This means explaining nicely (and consistently) when something is inappropriate and informing him how to behave in a way that will make him welcome. Getting angry only confuses him and teaches him nothing. Nonetheless, if you are incapable of that much compassion for Joe, you do not have to invite him. But we don’t recommend you exclude him during a group activity. Instead, if you wish to entertain without him, invite each friend individually for a specific time and date, and let them know the guest list is small.
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