Need advice / help

Need advice / help

Hello everybody!

I'll cut to the chase. There is this girl in my college course who is always being picked on. She says something in class and everybody mocks her because she asks the most random questions.

Well, I just thought she could use some company, so I sat beside her in one of my lectures and said, "Hi."

Well, within seconds of talking to her it was pretty clear that she is autistic or has aspagers or something similar -- she started asking me insane questions like, "What's your favourite type of meat?" or "What age did you first get a job at?" and that sort of thing.

Now, I really mean no offense to people who have learning / mental difficulties but ... she's started following me around all the time and I don't really know what to say. I'm also not really sure how to handle her. She, lovely though she is, talks in completely strange ways about things I am uncomfortable talking about. I really don't know how to go about handling this because I am worried that a wrong move on my part, which would be easy considering I am ill-experienced in this sort of thing, could really hurt her.

Any advice?

I've prayed to God over the matter, but I thought I'd ask here too.

You have taken one important step in seeing her as a valuable human being, someone worth getting to know. She may have some form of autism spectrum disorder, or maybe something else, but there is a person behind the exterior who is more complex than her communication or social skills. What seems random to you and me is, to her, part of her way of interacting with and making sense of her world. "What's your favorite type of meat?" may be an attempt to make conversation, or it may be intended to help her to know you better and that aspect is of interest to her, or it may relate to something that she finds interesting, thus a connection with you. I often have people ask me questions about pro sports teams. I don't know much or care much about sports, but they do and that's their attempt to make a connection with me (or, in other cases, to satisfy their idle curiosity). I, personally, would much rather talk about meat than professional sports any day. :D

She follows you around probably because A) you have made an effort to befriend her and B) her social skills need some development. It's likely that she doesn't pick up on the same cues that most of us would, like when a conversation is over, or a comment or question is off-topic or inappropriate, or when it's time to go home. Of course, when everyone shuns or mocks her, it makes it much more difficult for her to develop those social skills.

Without meeting this girl and knowing more about her, it's difficult to say how best to deal with her. Sometimes people benefit from simple direct, clear (but polite) communication. "I have to go now, I need to study/visit another friend/go to work/take a nap/whatever, so goodbye for now, see you tomorrow." or "That question is rather personal, I'd rather not talk about it." Depending on their self-awareness they may appreciate your being direct and directive, or they may misread your intent and be hurt, it's hard to say how she might react. A patient person can manage either way, but it can be difficult. I've met a number of "normal" people who just can't seem to "get" what you're trying to say to them.

May God grant you insight and wisdom to complement your compassion.