Sunday, May 31, 2009

Amelia Bedelia and Asperger Syndrome

Both of my kids have loved the Amelia Bedelia series for awhile now, just as I (and countless others) did as a child. Being a very literal thinker, it's been kind of interesting to watch Boo's connection with Amelia Bedelia. I've actually been sort of perplexed as to the appeal. I mean, I can see that if one has Asperger's, Amelia could be seen as a kindred spirit or maddening force.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, Boo was reading Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower at the kitchen table with The Dean. For the uninitiated, this is the one where the very literal thinking (and undiagnosed Aspie?) Amelia, who is employed as a housekeeper for the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, is asked to coordinate preparations for a shower. It is a member of Mrs. Rogers' sewing circle who is engaged. Hence, the shower. Amelia screws up a number of tasks like icing the fish (she's in the midst of icing cupcakes, so why shouldn't fish be iced similarly?), pruning the hedge, running over the tablecloth with an iron, and putting cut flowers in a bowl. Her biggest blunder is turning the garden hose on the guest of honor (i.e., giving her a shower).

"Why does Amelia Bedelia do everything wrong?" Boo asked me.
"Why do you think she does things wrong?" I said, turning the question back on him.
"Because there's two ways of understanding things."
"Right! Like when she gives the lady a shower, that means two things, right?"
"Right," said Boo. "But why do Mr. and Mrs. Rogers get angry with her?"
"That's a very good question," I acknowledged. "Why do you think they get angry?"
"Because she didn't understand what they meant."
"Right. And how could that problem be solved?" I asked.
"Amelia Bedelia should ask for help."

The irony of Amelia Bedelia is that, while she doesn't seem to be very helpful, she's one of the most helpful teachers for kids like Boo who have Asperger Syndrome.

Makes me appreciate and love one of my childhood favorites even more.


Priya said...

:) Amelia Bedelia books used to be my favorites several years ago.

Mel @ A Box of Chocolates said...

Amelia Bedelia is one of my favorite children's series of all times. I love how she does everything literally. It makes you think about some of the things you say. Thanks for visiting my blog and saying hello!!