At various opportune intervals during the day, I nab him to park him at the table. Once in position, I mention that it might be a good idea to add to his list for Father Christmas. [translation = Santa Claus]. He sighs with a mixture of weary patience and defeat, “O.k. what we are putting now!” he queries with exasperation. Autism's rigidity seems impenetrable. [Ref 1]
I detail the five items that I have managed to extract from him thus far: [translation = auto suggestion] chocolate, Belgium only, a book, non-specific, a game, general but probably of the 'board' variety, something to cuddle and 'a present.' It is a woefully short list for any 6 year old to have produced. Generally children of this age either have a list several yards in length, or a shorter version with very specific items, make serial number and price, just so that there can be no mix ups.
“Can't you think of anything else you'd like him to bring you for being such a good boy all year?” I weedle.
“Ah mummy, I is not a good boy anyways and I don want nuffink any roads up.” I seek out the blue eyes to see if I have timed this badly? I point to my beautifully configured numbers in the hope of encouraging him to add another. I don't want to induce cardiac arrest in Santa when he finds a list with only five items on it.
“Can't you think of anything that would make you feel very happy, that would make you feel a happy green?”
“Well, maybe I am wanting something.”
“I am having to want three eggs actually.”
“Great! Number 6, three eggs, that's a great one! Can you think of another one?”
“Er, well, maybe I fink I am wanting a great gold star.” Saints preserve us, we're on a roll! “Wonderful! That would make a superb gift. Anything else?” Is there a chance we might reach double digits?
“Hmm, let me see now, I think my last fing would be some green toofpaste so that my teef can be happy too.” Why didn't I anticipate this? Does anyone manufacture green toothpaste? Do I have enough time to go to Walgreens? Will they let me open half a dozen tubes so that I can squeeze out a squirt and check colours? “Superb, happy teeth must be the best thing in the world, anything else?”
“ Umm, may be I need some bendy pens, I mean soft pens that won't be hurting my hands and fingers.”
I know that his ‘list’ looks strange to a casual observer. I could explain each items significance but that’s not really the point. The point is that he has no compunction to explain what these things are. The theory of mind, or lack thereof, tells us that he assumes that I understand, that I think as he does, therefore there is no need for him to expound. Even if I were a complete stranger he would still not explain, even if prompted, there would be no point. His perspective is that everyone knows their significance. It is easy to see why this tendency is seen as pivotal, in an autism diagnoses if not merely narcissistic.
“Fantabulous, those are the best pens on the planet! I hope he has some?” I wonder where they can be bought? “Any other offers? Anything else? You're up to 8 now!”
“My last thing will be a sharing thingy.”
“What kind of a sharing thingy?”
“A game that my bruvver is liking very much, so that we can be taking turns together. I like the game cube game because is it yellow, er because is it nearly golden colour, which is my favourite colour, but he is liking it because it is a Pokemon game and it will be making him happy, it is called a “Topaz Pokemon Version.”
So much for the Theory of Mind.