Background: I am a behavior therapist who works with autistic children. I have a 3-year-old client who, as part of his program, I take walks with every day to work on behaviors such as responding to “stop” and staying on the sidewalk. I carry a clipboard so I can take data on how he is doing with his goals.
So, yesterday, the kiddo, the nanny, and I were taking our usual stroll around the neighborhood when an older lady (60’s) came out of her house as we passed it and asked in an unfriendly tone, “May I ask what you are doing? I see you every day with that clipboard walking by here.” (This, by the way, is not true. We take a different route every day, so she probably sees us about once a week.)
Because of confidentiality issues, I can’t talk to anyone outside the family about who I am or what I am doing with the kid. So I said, “Oh, we’re just going for a walk.”
At this point, she got REALLY angry, and said, “Oh no, you’re not! You’re certainly not from THIS neighborhood!”
In response, the nanny and I literally laughed in her face and we all kept walking, joking about how I should stand in front of her house and just pretend to scribble on my clipboard intently.
Yet, I am still baffled. What did this woman think I was doing walking by with a clipboard and a toddler? The “you’re not from THIS neighborhood” almost sounds like a racial comment. However, although nanny is Hispanic and kid is dark-skinned Asian/Caucasian, I am white, and the comments were clearly directed at me and my nefarious clipboard. Any insights as to what sort of insidious purpose she thought I might be up to?