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After letter, note of thanks OK

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar

Dear Annie: In order to apply to college, get into certain clubs and receive scholarships, students often need to ask teachers for a letter of recommendation. Most of the time, my teachers give this letter back to me in an unsealed envelope. Am I allowed to read it, or is that like eavesdropping? Also, after receiving a recommendation, I feel I should get the teacher some kind of small gift. My mother says I should wait until the end of the year to do this or it will look like a bribe. What is the proper thing to do? – Curious Girl

Dear Curious: If the letter is unsealed, it means the teacher expects you to open it and you may do so. As for a small gift, it is OK to show gratitude in this way, provided you do it after the recommendation letter has been produced and not before. But frankly, a written thank-you note will mean just as much.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Lonely for Life,” the teenage girl who has few friends and doesn’t know how to make more. May I suggest she investigate the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome? It is on the autism spectrum.

People affected with Asperger’s are usually very intelligent but lack social skills. It’s much more prevalent than people realize. As a retired elementary teacher, I can tell you it’s only been diagnosed in the last eight to 10 years, so it’s now being confronted in the middle and high schools. However, much more needs to be done at the community level to support those who most likely have not been diagnosed.

My husband was a gifted attorney, but didn’t have a single friend. This teen says her activities are “the computer, watching TV or pacing in my backyard.” The last really grabs my attention. Does she engage in any other repetitive activities that would hint of autism? Please suggest she look into this. – Married to Him

Dear Married: Several readers suggested Asperger’s, and we have printed information on this in the past. Thanks for the suggestion.

Please write to Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
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