At the supermarket today, Calder took a basket and as usual I reminded him to be careful with it. Oops his basket hit a lady crouching by the cold vegetable section. I didn't see it happening but caught the gist by the look on that lady's face. As usual, I apologised on Calder's behalf. The fellow was still swinging his basket like nothing had happened. The lady was not at all appeased by my apology.
"Don't know how to say sorry," she grumbled.
Me: "Calder, say sorry."
Unfortunately he didn't look at all penitent.
Me: "Sorry. He is autistic."
On the way home, I was wondering what's the best thing to do in such situations: Calder oblivious to the offense he's caused - unfortunately not an unusual occurrence. When necessary, I've always been the one to instruct Calder to apologise. But nobody likes a scripted apology so how do I get Calder to say "sorry" spontaneously?
Then I had an idea. Whenever he hits me or steps on my foot accidentally, I'll turn my face to him and exclaim "ouch!" That is the cue that will elicit a loud "sorry" from him. He's so cheerful about it I think he sees it like a game. Sometimes I wonder if he'd fire "sorry" to an "ouch" that is not his fault. But I suppose I can use this to solve the issue at hand - to do a quiet "ouch" so that he would bellow his "sorry" to appease whoever has been upset by him.
Actually it's a consolation of sorts that people often don't see his autism and therefore assume he's being rude, until the Mommy offers an explanation.
Meanwhile, Ethel heard my idea and was very tickled by the picture of Calder's enthusiastic "sorry".
Me: "Yes, Calder is going to bellow 'sorry' so loud that everyone can hear it!"
Ethel: "I think Calder is the most amusing autistic boy around."