Rules

Every household has rules.  Kids and adults need rules – to give us boundaries, define how we will interact with each other, and thereby provide a comfortable environment to live in.

Families with Autism, if they are anything like THIS family with Autism, likely have more rules… and certainly more interesting rules… than the families without Autism.  Our kids with Autism structure their worlds differently and so the rules must accomodate that… accomodate their perspective… and that can make for some weird strange unexpected interesting rules.  Rules that sometimes must be repeated again and again and again.

Some of the more interesting rules from the last month include:

(from me, after Christmas pageant practice at church) “Here’s a rule.  This is very important.  You do not sing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” in mouse language at the top of your lungs while everyone else is singing “Silent Night.”

(from me, while holding onto the dashboard in the car) “No one is to smell Daddy’s armpit while he is driving!  Do you understand?  NO ONE!”

(from our younger son (with Autism) while giving his order to a waiter in a restaurant) “Here’s a rule.  It is very important.  The chef must stir sugar into the recipe but NOT the poison!”

I particularly like that last one.  Any other “interesting” family rules out there?

That’s So Old School

Recently my older son had a sleep over.  As his buddies were munching on pancakes the next morning they were “talkin trash” and comparing notes on a variety of topics–homework (boring), Brian Urlacher (totally cool), and girls (hot).  They were so funny (except for the “hot” comments – which strode somewhere between hilarious and nervewracking) – spouting opinions about this and that.  I just listened and kept making pancakes while they chattered away.

At one point a lull in the converstaion came.  To break the silence my older son said “Remember when we used to play Guitar Hero?”  This is the Wii game that has been all the rage for the last year, in case you haven’t heard of it (i.e. live under a rock).  It involves “playing” a guitar along with a band on screen – if you get the hand movements right along with the chosen song you get cheered on by the crowd, your band fees go up, and you get to go on tours.  If you don’t do so well parts of the song fade out, you get boo-ed, and you don’t make money with your band.  There are multiple versions of it now available.

I resisted the urge to break in with “You mean like 3 days ago?” while I poured batter on to the hot griddle.  I kept quiet to see what would be said next.  I wasn’t disappointed.

“Yeah” answered one of his guests.

“Yeah,” my son said, “that’s so old school!”  He shoved another big forkload of syrupy pancake into his mouth while his buddies nodded their agreement.

I couldn’t resist any more.  I put down my spatula and leaned against the counter.  “Son, what do you mean by ‘old school’?”

He looked up at me with his sweet freckled face and said “You know, Mom… been there ,done that…”

“Oh.  I see.”  I turned around and tried to stifle my laughter.  Where do they come up with this stuff?  This feined ennui and sophisticated boredom – at ten?  Heaven help us!

Mommy Comparison

My older son (typical kid) has a good friend (R) who lives in the house behind ours (or we live behind them, as he pointed out to me recently).  These boys are inseparable.  They are best friends and they talk about everything that may be on their minds.

One evening at the dinner table my son wanted to tell us about a conversation they had had that very afternoon.  It was one of those good natured conversations where they start to compare things in their lives to see who had it “better” than the other.

My son started with “We were talking about how R’s Mommy is prettier than you.  She is really pretty,” he declared.  He looked a bit smug.  I think I raised an eyebrow followed by a slight cringe as I imagined what might next come out of his mouth.

My husband looked ready to intervene in order to salvage my ego when my son continued with “Yeah, but we agreed that my Mommy could heavy punch his Mommy.” 

He sat back with a grin on his face and I saw all the pride shining in his eyes.  My cup runneth over.

Well, I thought, what more do you need to know?

Pretty is as pretty does… in a young boy’s mind at least.

Note to my gentle readers: No, I do not “heavy punch” people.  I don’t think I’ve thrown a punch in my entire adult life (although I may have tried to punch one of my brothers at some point when we were kids… I don’t remember it but I admit it is possible).  I do not advocate punching people nor pets nor trees nor anything.  Punching is violence and punching is bad, unless you are being attacked in which case please don’t not punch just to be polite.  Punch and scream and kick and yell and get away.  There – did I cover it all?

The Exhibitionist and the First Communion Class

My youngest has been showing a great deal of interest in church communion lately.  He’s asking lots of questions, holding his hands out while the bread is distributed, and asking “but WHY can’t I have snacks too?” as we walk back toward our pew.

We’ve been talking with him about the Last Supper, what communion means, the Passover meal, etc.  He’s always full of questions and particularly likes to talk about Moses (one of his favorite people in the bible) and blood – how it gets into the cup for communion and all that.  Needless to say, he keeps us jumping!

Many of the kids his age at church have recently completed their First Communion class.  We had decided that this was not going to be the most effective forum for our son to learn about communion.  Instead a dear friend (Saint Beth) offered to conduct a custom class just for our son.  She developed the materials our church currently uses and knows our son pretty well.  She has a gift for working with children that just astounds me – and patience like you wouldn’t believe.  And she VOLUNTEERED (wow!).

So Saint Beth, our son, and I met at the church last weekend to talk about communion.  Early on we talked about history and Moses.  Frustratingly (for me), my son at first acted as if he’d never heard of Moses.  Then he decided he couldn’t hold back any longer about his favorite bible superhero and told us about God talking to him in the burning bush, the staff that was thrown to the ground and turned into a snake…  He was thrilled to be talking about these amazing feats and happenings.  Saint Beth followed his lead and they happily exchanged stories and observations.

AT some point Saint B asked my son if he had any questions.  Pleased with this adult who encouraged him to talk about the bits and pieces of the stories that HE found interesting, my son decided to introduce a new topic that was dear to his heart.

“Do you want to see my underpants?”

Saint Beth gently smiled, not sure where this was going but fairly certain that we were moving away from anything having to do with communion, gently answered “No.”

Hoping to entice her, my son said “They’re Go Diego Go.”  He didn’t add that they were his particular favorite pair AND had a glow in the dark design.

Saint Beth cocked her head to one side, smiled a bit broader now, and said “I don’t think so, but thank you for offering.”

My son, my sweet funny adorable child, frowned for the briefest second.  Then his face lit up as he thought of perhaps a viable alternative.  “Wanna see my Tushie?”

We couldn’t hold back the giggles.

Thank you Saint Beth!!!!  We love you and know that God is in us and with us all the time!

Who Whispers Secrets Into YOUR Ear?

Can I just say… the St Louis Zoo is really really a GREAT deal?  Free admission, lots to see, beautiful landscaping… and hippos coming out of your ears!

there's a Hippo in my ear!

or at least…. Hippos coming out of my son’s ear…

My youngest is a huge animal lover – he lives for trips to the zoo, the aquarium, and the farm.  When we took a summer trip to a family reunion in Southern Illinois, we just had to make a detour to the St Louis zoo.  My son dreamed of this trip for weeks ahead of time and the experience far outshone his anticipation.  We all had a great time.
Okay – so the hippo isn’t REALLY coming out of his ear.  He just happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right facial expression… the crowd parted briefly… and I got a fantastic pic of my youngest that makes me smile every time I look at it.
Here’s to all of the kids out there with dreams of the future, adventures realized, and especially for those who ever dreamed of having a hippo whisper secrets into their ear.

Ball Games, Peanuts, And Creative Packaging

We went to a Braves Game this last weekend.  I am not a huge baseball fan, but I can certainly appreciate spending a pleasant day in the stands, watching our team play a good game, chatting with friends, and enjoying the beautiful weather.  Oh yeah… and the food!  It just isn’t the same without the hot dogs and peanuts.  It is a wonderful American tradition.

Whenever I go to the ballpark and see those peanut shells I am reminded of a cute story from years ago.  One of my best friends has a boy the same age as my oldest.  We’d taken both families to see the Braves play.  The boys brought their gloves in the hopes of catching a fly ball.  We parents brought in a large bag of peanuts to share.  The boys practically dove into the bag, selecting their peanuts, then setting about the business of cracking them open (without spilling the nuts inside) and popping them into their mouths.  After the initial surge of nut popping activity, my friend’s son seemed to slow down a bit, pondering his peanuts as he twisted them open.  Then, after opening one and eating the nuts inside, he held the shell up for closer inspection.  He turned it around and around, then turned to his Mom.

“How do they do that?” he asked.

“How do they do what, Butterbean?” she replied.

“How do they make the little waffles and get them around the peanuts?” he said.

That makes me chuckle to this day.  Peace to you all!

Crazy Elephant Stories

My younger son receives Occupational Therapy (OT) in school each week.  He has alot of sensory issues, gross and fine motor skills to develop, and of course tons of energy.  His school OT is a good professional and very creative.  She makes him work hard too – which he doesn’t always appreciate 🙂 .

At the last IEP meeting, the OT tells us the following story…

The OT, in preparation for our son’s session, “messes up” her room, turning chairs over, moving desks, taking books off the shelves and putting them on the floor.  She does this so that she can ask our son to put everything back when he first gets to the room.  This gives him some deeper sensory stimulation and helps him calm and focus himself for the work ahead.

Our son, walking into the room, says “What happened!  Why is the room so messy?”

The OT tells him that an elephant came through the room and moved all sorts of things around – she needs his help to clean up.  Our son, suspicious that an elephant didn’t reallycome through her room, but willing to play along, gives her a look and then starts to put things back where they belong.  After half-a-minute he stops, cocks his head, and says “I have something to tell you about the elephant and how he came to school to mess up your room.”  Clearly he has concocted a story to help explain this strange occurance.

The OT, wise to my son’s story telling stalling techniques, tells him that now is not the time to tell stories, now is the time to work.  My son tries again with no success.  Eventually the room is put back to rights and they begin a more traditional exercise.  My son is a bit perturbed but settles in.

At the end of the session my son is preparing to leave the room to go back to his regular classroom when he turns at the door.  “I want to tell you a story,” he tries again.  He is determined to tell a story!

“What about?” she asks.

He pauses for dramatic effect then raises his eyebrows.  “About the CRAZYOT,” and placing hand on hip he grins and says “and YOU are the OT!”  Satisfied that he has made his point he flounces out of the room (as best as a first grade boy can flounce) and makes his way back to his classroom.  At this point in the story we all laugh, shake our heads, and agree that our son has quite a personality and flair for the dramatic.

Thank you to all of the crazy OTs and STs and PTs who work with our crazy kids and us crazy parents.  We couldn’t get through this without you.  Thanks for pushing us a little farther so that we can all achieve our best – especially when the elephants charge through our lives.