Reflective Ms. Wordy Wednesday

“Hi! I'm here!”
“Top of the morning to you!”
“That sounds more Irish than English?”
“Hmm. Sorry. Well my Mum's Irish. Actually that's just a lie I've sort of slipped into, since I've been out in the States.”
“Lie?”
“Well her parents were Irish, so I say she's Irish, but she was born in England so obviously she's English.”
“Gotcha.”
“If she found out I was going around saying she was Irish she'd have a fit of the vapours.”
“Somehow I always visualize your Mom as being like Princess Margaret.”
“Oh good, she'd like that. The reality is more 'bog Irish.”
“Bog Irish?”
“Yes, don't repeat that though, it's very rude.”
“Rude?”
“Yes, you know, struggled up from the bog kind of a thing.”
“Huh! New one on me. So you're Dad's still Scottish though?”
“Yes.”
“Kilts and bagpipes kinda of a deal?”
“Close enough.”
“Not bog Scottish?”
“Castle.”
“Geez that class thing goes on in Scotland and Ireland too?”
“Don't forget Wales!”
“The little stuck out bit.”
“The same!”
“So what are we looking at today? Child exploitation!”
“Ooo dear that's a little harsh.”
“You've got him scrubbin away at the windows. I just call it like I see it.”
“Yes I can see why you might think that.”
“That's not what I'm seeing?”
“Hmm therapeutic child exploitation sits easier on my soul.”
“What's the therapeutic part?”
“Lots of things.”
“Such as?”
“Making his hands and fingers squeeze the lever on the bottle of Windex.”
“Why?”
“To make them stronger.”
“Are they excessively weak?”
“Maybe not excessively, but if you don't use your hands every day for every day kinds of things, then lots of ordinary little tasks become extraordinary difficult.”
“Bit of a vicious circle then.”
“Spot on.”
“But why window cleaning? Couldn't you have something….I don't know……..more kid like?”
“Well for this guy, it's a question of latching onto anything that he might show a tiny shred of interest.”
“And you're trying to tell me that he's interested in cleaning windows? I just don't buy it.”
“You're right, it's not the cleaning or the windows, it's the blue fluid.”
“Still don't get it. Is blue his favourite colour or something?”
“No, still yellow. If I'm honest I don’t really know what the spark was but he was definitely interested in it, so you work with what you've got. Neither of them rarely show interest in anything outside of their rather narrow fields, so when something catches an eye, you just have to go with it.”
“So you'd call this the Windex developmental stage of autism or the blue period?”
“Er…..?”
“Hah! Got yah, I was teasing.”
“Oooo, very good!”
“So you got him to use the wiper thing too!”
“Yes.”
“How?”
“The stars were favourably aligned that day.”
“Fluke?”
“Who knows?”
“So he managed the crossing the “mid-line thing?”
“Ooo yes, well spotted, you're so good at this.”
“Next time I clean the windows, I'll remind myself of my “mid-lines.”
“You do that dearie.”
“Deal.”
“One last word of warning though.”
“What?”
“Do it too much and you end up with blue skirting boards.”
“You know Maddy, there are many things that we Americans get fixated upon, but you won't catch any of us perseverating or reflecting upon our windows.”
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, “who is the fairest…….”



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Tactile defensiveness every day

It's a battle. He will eat the banana but I can rarely persuade him to peel back the skin himself. Even if we leap that hurdle, then I need to cut the banana into slices so that he can eat it with a fork. This is not a boy who will permit his fingers to be contaminated by direct digital contact. He needs a tool to protect his fingers from the texture of the banana.

It has been just like this for a very long time. Failure to co-operate on my part means that either he won’t eat bananas at all, one of his thirteen precious foods, or he’ll attempt to eat it whole with catastrophic results.

I dither and debate, but ultimately decide to go on strike and withdraw my services at least temporarily, until I've finished the washing up. Either he can wait a few minutes or do it himself. I know that patience is not one of his strengths but I doubt if he is sufficiently hungry to be motivated to tackle the task solo.

I watch him out of the corner of my eye. He yelps, just like a puppy when you step on their tail. His sister takes pity on him and snaps off the stalk for the first strip of peel. She looks me. My eyes widen, “come on! You can do it now. I've started it fur yah!” He tries, with the precision of a surgeon, thumb nail tip to index finger nail. There is no possibility that the skin on his finger tips will touch it. Each movement is accompanied by another yip. Some minutes later, two thirds of the skin has been removed. The banana is revealed,lying on it's last layer of skin.


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I hear Thunder

 

A drastic change in diet can often bring with it, some dramatic changes in disposition. In my son's case, his disposition hasn't so much changed, as been restored, and not by diet but my medication. His anger has been dispelled, but the pills have cast a spell over his digestive system. There's no beating about the bush here, we are constantly assaulted by grievous frequent flatulence.

Sometimes he tells us in advance, so that we can practice our 'duck and cover' skills. At other times the bombs come without a health warning. So much depends upon how in tune we are with our bodies and the surrounding environment. All too often we hear tales of how a sixth sense is at work in some individuals. These people, and often animals, are so highly attenuated that they are able to detect an oncoming heart attack or a diabetic crash. Sometimes they warn of hurricanes or floods. Uncanny, mysterious and slightly bewildering.

…………..

I hang the last few decorations on the tree before the guests arrive for the “sleepover.” I am uncertain which parts of me are malfunctioning? Either the tree is bigger or the decorations are smaller and perhaps more numerous? Either way it might be the beastly bifocals or the dodgy fingers because control of time seems to escape me. I am permanently stuck on fast forward.

The boys loll around on the floor, absorbed with the grain work of the wood and watching dust particles in the bright Californian light. This is their way of participating, their physical presence. We are duly honoured. I wonder if I'll have time to vacuum before the fray?
“How come these decorations are so puny?”
“They're English.”
“How come these decorations are so fiddly?”
“Because they're English.”
“Owg Mom yur not gonna hang that old thing! It's gross man!”
“It's gross man!” It's gross man!” It's gross man!” he echos from the general area of the floor boards. I smile to myself, because this is one of my favourite decorations, one made by her big sister's oh so fare young hands, a couple of decades ago. I am smug because this is almost a repetition of the same debate. Oh the joy of being mature and wise.
“It is not gross, it is merely old,” just like everything else around here.
“Yah mean it's an antique?”
“It's an antique? It's an antique? It's an antique?” he echoes as echolalia is ever present. With everyone at home, double echolalia, one version from each boy, is the musical background to nearly every waking moment.

I pause, reflective and experienced. I always forget that 'antique' is defined differently depending upon the continent.
“Um….well you might say that. May I hang it if it is an antique?”
“No! We should sell it and be billionaires!”
“And be billionaires! And be billionaires! And be billionaires!”
“Some things really are priceless you know dear,” I advise is a wise and obscure manner.
“It's more than a billion?”
“More than a billion? More than a billion? More than a billion?”
“Not exactly. It's hard to put an exact figure on it.”
“Figure on it. Figure on it. Figure on it.”
“Geez guys, cun yah jus let mom answer a minute why dontcha!” For some unaccountable reason, they remain silent. What is her secret? We regroup. I collect my thoughts, every tiny little one of them, but as I open my mouth to reply, the little one bellows, “Earthquake! Earthquake! Earthquake! It is a compound word?” My daughter's eye balls lock onto mine as we freeze, motionless and waiting, paralyzed by fear, aliens unable to control tectonic plates. Why didn't I pay more attention during 'Awareness Week.' Doth the child have Savant powers? We shall all be killed and no-one will ever know! Is this the silence before the end?
The other one confesses, “Oopsie! My butt! My bad!”

It seems that I’m always mis-interpreting matters and jumping to the wrong “conclusions.”


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Holiday [Christmas for some] meme

“Stacy” from “JameeForever” has tagged me with this meme that I am completely unqualified to complete, what a trial that woman is!

Doesn’t she know that I’m still in “Birthday mode”?

1) Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Predominantly cloth bags, partly because of the hideousness of paper that no-one can touch and partly to save the planet’s trees because we recycle them year after year.

2) Real tree or artificial?

Both. Artificial for the children [although it’s only become vaguely interesting this year] and we cut down the tree on the side of the house [it re-sprouts, honest].

3) When do you put up your tree?

Varies from year to year. We try and be American and put it up during the Thanksgiving break, but REALLY there should be nothing until Christmas Eve – it’s a RULE.

4) When do you take the tree down?

The day before the recycling chappies are coming to visit.

5) Do you like eggnog?

Vile, poisonous, sickly, glutinous, liquid muck.

6) Favorite gift received as a child?

A teddy bear with a musical windup key in his poor little back.

7) Do you have a Nativity scene?

Yes, we made it ourselves out of cardboard. Everybody completely ignores it.

8) The hardest person to buy for?

Spouse.

9) The easiest person to buy for?

Ella.

10) The worst Christmas gift you ever received?

A tea towel / dish cloth with I consider ever so slightly worse than the oven glove.

11) Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
Both.

12) Favorite Christmas movie?

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.

13) When do you start shopping for Christmas?

Throughout the year.

14) Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

Yes. Do you have a problem with that?

15) Favorite things to eat at Christmas?

Roast potatoes with lots of salt.

16) Clear lights or colored on the tree?

Coloured.

17) Favorite Christmas song?

I do not like any Christmas songs at all, but I’m fond of a few Christmas Carols.

18) Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Home, simply by default. I’ll travel. Who wants to see us?

19) Can you name all Santa’s reindeer?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Rudolph, Blitzen, Vixen, Comet, Cupid. Clearly these are American names. They are easy to remember because they are daft. If they’d had sensible names like George and Fred, they’d be far more difficult to remember.

20) Angel on the tree top or a star?

Both.

21) Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

Morning. The exercise continues way past New Year.

22) Most annoying thing about this time of year?

Musak.

23) What is the “corniest” family tradition you do or miss doing?

Corny! I have no idea what that word even means? Everything about our entire existence is tasteful and refined.

24) Ugliest Christmas decorations ever invented?

Those huge blow up outside decorations.

25) Which looks the best…theme trees or homey trees?

Homey? Please could we have a few more international translations please!
Themed are obviously best. ‘Homey’ are infinitely preferable.

26) What does Christmas mean to you?

Peace and goodwill to all people.

So who to tag? Who hasn’t already completed this one? Let me see. In the interests of being fair and arbitrary and annoying, I shall tag the next 7 people who are foolish enough to make comments today, which will be yesterday when you read this. Huh!

So first up we have “Emily” from “Wheels on the bus.” Aha, and she hasn’t done the meme so this is clearly a brilliant executive decision on my part.

Then there’s “Burfica” over at
“Don’t Eat the Tomatoes” and yes I loved the choral! Please note that the correct pronunciation would be ‘tom ah toes,’ but you already knew that of course.

My next unfortunate victim is over at “Heidi” over at “Vikingconquest” where she is attempting to conquest Norway. I have no doubt she will be as successful in her conquests there as I am being here!

Gosh darn it, next up we feature the lovely “Miss Bossy” over at “I am Bossy” who has yet to learn to play along with these things. There again, her Advent Calendars are clearly more than challenge enough.

Then lovely Ms. “Veganmomma” at “Not your Ordinary Momma,” which will probably be a jolly handy site for anyone wishing to experiment with strange food stuffs or any of the ‘run about and wear yourself out’ types.

Aha! And then we have one of my favourite victims “Joker the Lurcher” over at “Bona Vacantia,” where the trials of our doggy friends help us learn an entirely different perspective on things.

Then there is the lovely “Judith” over at “Autismville”
which is great for the technically challenged such as myself!

So there you go dearies, let me know when it’s up and running.


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Christmas meme

“Elissa” from “Managing Autism” has tagged me this Christmas meme – tis the season to be tagged, it would appear.

“When people say 'Christmas' you immediately think…”

Quick! Remember to say ‘Holiday!’ Remember which land mass you’re on!

“Favourite Christmas memory…”

Forgotten.

“Favourite Christmas song/carol…”

‘God rest ye Merry Gentlemen’ but only if choral [to save us all from Satan’s power!] Strangely I know every word and yet I don’t remember learning them.

“Favourite Christmas movie…”

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

“Favourite Christmas character…”

Are there any? Father Christmas?

“Favourite Christmas ornament/object…”

See picture above, made by my eldest daughter’s fair hands 20 years ago.

“Plans for this Christmas…”

Home with the family in-between packing for England and the “Wedding.”

“Is Christmas your favourite holiday?”

Yes.

So I shall tag:-

“Art in the Garage”

“Patois”
at “Whee All The Way Home.”

“Terry” at “Planet3RRY”


“Angela”
at “Memoirs of a Chaotic Mommy”


“Tena”
at “Inherwritemind1”


“Leanne”
at “It’s All Okay”

“Susan” at “West of Mars”

“The Ironic Catholic” that has to be a winner!

And “elasticwaistbandlady” at “The Smiling Infidel,” what a combination.

Sorry it’s so short but I’m preparing for the “sleepover” and I have a head-cold.

p.s. if you are one of the many kindly souls that sent me an ‘e-card’ and wonder why I have been so rude in not responding, have already crossed me off your Christmas card list for next year and are thoroughly miffed by my cold hearted rebuff, this is due to one of the following:-

a] the card is virtually real or
b] really virtual
and I am unable to distinguish one from the other. One or the other threatens to virtually wipe out my computer and really send me reeling, so I don’t open either.

Cheers dearies



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Navigating the Social world

 

I have reason to believe that I am the sole arbiter of social norms.

Because I am a superior being in these matters, I have no problem advising my daughter when it comes to her birthday celebration. Our last December birthday, and then I may turn my attention to the other big holiday celebration, if I have an ounce of energy left.

“So how many are comin Mom?”
“Well I don't really know. Definitely 5 maybe 7?” Presumably because I failed to translate R.S.V.P on the invitation? “Perhaps you could ask them to telephone me dear?”
“Sure.”
“Very good. So I'll collect the cake after I've made room for it in the freezer.”
“Oh. About that.”
“About what?”
“We need a different cake.”
“A different cake from the special, made to order one, that you specifically choose as being your favourite, you mean?” Rather than the home made, artistically created with love version, from your mother? How many more ‘sacrifices’ do I have to make, deny my own pleasure, just so that she can be happy?
“Yeah.”
“And?”
“Joanne don't like ice-cream cake.”
“But YOU like ice-cream cake and it's YOUR birthday.”
“Yeah but I want my friends to be happy too.” This is taking accommodation too far!
“Fair enough. How about I make another cake, a little one, that way every one will be happy?”
“Yeah and get some ice cream too.”
“What for?”
“To go with the cake that you're gonna make.”
“But what about the ice-cream cake, made with ice-cream?”
“That's right! Remember, you have the cake which yah have with ice-cream, unless yah don't like ice-cream, or yah have the ice-cream coz you don’t like the cake, then yah have the ice-cream cake if yah like ice-cream cake.” It's the American way, what can I say. Take a perfectly delightful piece of cake and then make a hideously soggy disgusting mess of it with a dollop of ice-cream. Vile.
“O.k. So,….. I shall buy the pizzas today whilst you are at school.”
“Oh no. Not pizza!”
“I thought you said you wanted pizza? A special treat?”
“No coz Sara doesn't like pizza.”
“But all Amer….um…..children like pizza!” Except my boys of course, although technically, they're not invited to the sleepover.
“Oh. Well how about spaghetti then?”
“No. She dun like that either.”
“But all Ameri……what does she like?”
“Calamari.”
“?”
“She does, really! I like it too. Can we have Calamari? Please?”
“Leave that one with me. Do the rest of your friends like Calamari?”
“No but that's o.k. coz Petra isn't staying the night.”
“It's a sleepover! Why isn't she staying the night?”
“Coz of the boys.”
“?”
Let me die now.
I need an emergency pack of patience right this second.
“Um… why dear?”
“You know!” she says knowingly. I take a deep breath as it would be inconvenient to explode at this stage of the conversation. I need an emergency pack of tolerance right this second.
“What about the boys dear?” Pass me the 'peace and love to all mankind' emergency pack. What is wrong with these people! Must a little genetic variation always have such a dire impact?
“Well they're, you know…..boys.”
“So?”
“An she's a girl and she ain't got no brothers, soooo….”
“So what?”
“Well she ain't gonna stay the night in a house that's got boys sleepin there too, duh!”

It's official, I'm 119 years old and incapable of thinking outside the coffin shaped box of my own making. Just dig a six foot hole and bury me under the weight of my prejudices.

Is she really only about to be 10?


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Staying power – Thursday Thirteen

 
 
 
 
 
Thirteen Things about Maddy’s Mayhem
I have wanted to try the Thursday Thirteen for quite a while, but I was never able to think of thirteen anythings, as 3 is usually about my limit. Then, as if by chance, a foolish therapist suggested that we should adopt a new campaign to improve our quality of life. I baulked at the suggestion and she queried my resistance, “but we already have a zillion campaigns on the go as it is, I couldn’t possibly squeeze in another, something might go pop!” I could see that she was doubtful and so I began a lengthy list of the current ongoing campaigns. I expect they are very similar to most parents’ campaigns.

1. Sharing and taking turns. All children are subject to this arbitrary peace making attempt by parents.

2. Use your words! Preferable to screams and or meltdowns.

3. The speech therapy practice of the ‘th’ sound, very common for small lispy people.

4. When you bump into someone you should apologize. ‘Sorry’ will do. Purpose? To help with self awareness, or awareness of where your body is in space, as well as a greater awareness that other people also exist on the same rather crowded planet.

5. Change the question ‘what it is’ into ‘what is it?’ Plus the sub campaign of referencing back, where the questioner should give a small clue or hint about what the question refers to.

6. Keep clothing on body, this is not a seasonal rule.

7. Eat a new food, preferably within the next 12 months.

8. Tolerate texture and it’s sub campaign regarding temperature fluctuations.

9. Volume control. We need some.

10. Before you enter the house put your shoes on the shelf. Enter the house and put your socks in the bucket. Currently this campaign has been ongoing for 4 years with limited if any success despite frequent daily practice. This campaign came into existence out of necessity. I took me too much time to remove six shoes, socks, assorted clothes and backpacks from the doorway and leave the children unsupervised INSIDE the house.

It seemed simpler to teach them this life skill instead. It isn’t simpler. My body bars entry into the house as they each attempt these few small steps, verbal prompts, visual prompts all delivered promptly to no avail but at least we are all within the same 6 foot area, and there’s safety in supervision.

Four years of the wrong campaign. Instead of adding a campaign I should spend my time thinking through what’s going wrong with this one campaign. I could probably claw back an additional twenty to twenty five minutes of time per trip.

11. Do not twiddle and fiddle with your fingers. I am determined to beat this genetic fluke before our household is devoid of buttons, door knobs, tags, labels etc..

12. Modulation and regulation in everything. This roughly translates to ‘all things in moderation.’

13. Speech and social skills campaign to continue to use compliments and kind, positive words, whenever possible. “I am lovin yur red eyes” doesn’t strictly count.

In reality, there are many more, but those were the few that I could think of as I hopped from one spot to another in the waiting room at therapy, whilst herding the troops to remain within the confined space.

So that would be try, try, try again……I suppose?



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Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It's easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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Tactile What? Wordy Wednesday

“Geez Wednesday again already! Has life speeded up?”
”And a jolly good morning to you too. No smarmy comments now?
“Smarmy? When will you ever learn to speak American?'
“I'm working on it. I just expect a hard time from you.”
“Hard time? That sounds vaguely rude.”
“Quash the rude antennae, I just slipped into foreign for a moment.”
“O.k. so down to business then. What do we have here? Don't say I have to guess or I may just have to smack you.”
“Perish the thought! So you don't think it's self explanatory?”
“Your Wordless Wednesday posts are never that!”
“Well he's playing with those winkum dinkum magnet thingummy do dahs.”
“Yup see those and your point is?”
“Well he's playing. Or rather he was at the time. He was about four. It was a great breakthrough.”
“You've lost me.”
“Well 'play' can be a tricky thing. Especially if your fine motor skills are poor.”
“I'm not convinced that you know what 'fine motor skills' really are?”
“I do, sort of. The ability to make your fingers do what you want them to do, or toes for that matter.”
“Geez. Do I really wanna know what your toes can do?'
“No, you probably don't but it's the principal. Control over those extraneous bits and pieces.”
“My fingers aren't extraneous.”
“Yours maybe not, but for lots of people, especially those with tactile defensiveness, fingers are difficult to control.”
“O.k. so you're saying two things really, non functioning fingers and tacile…..?”
“Just think texture, how things feel, although it can also be affected by temperature.”
“Temperature too? This is getting awfully complicated. I didn't come here for a lecture you know?”
“True. Try it this way. Say that being the experienced woman of the world that you are, you reach out to touch an ice cube and the sensation you feel is heat.”
“Er o.k. so you're saying that……he doesn't feel what we all feel?”
“In part, it's more that whatever it is that he does feel, he feels in ten times more intensely than we do, either too many nerve ending or maybe more sensitive. Haven’t you ever touched something so hot or so cold you weren’t sure exactly what you were feeling?”
“Actually I have! That would be confusing, quite scary in some ways.”
“There you go! You've hit the nail on the head again. You get so that you don't trust your fingers, you want to protect them.”
“So that's like the kids that wrap themselves up in a coat all day.”
“Could be for some of them but there could be a lot of other sensory reasons too. Don't want to jump to conclusions.”
“So his fingers are being brave touching those magnet things?'
“Yes, and they're great because they snap into position. You don't have to be able to manipulate them that accurately.”
“So all good stuff then?'
“Indeed.”
“You have high expectations?”
“Well you know, years ago I used to say that I hoped that my children would be healthy, happy and normal.”
“Pretty low expectation then. Well I kinda knew you were a pessimist.”
“True but in todays world, I thought that those goals were pretty high expectations.”
“You've changed your view?”
“A little bit.”
“How so?”
'Just one bit. 'Normal' is very overrated.”
“Oh and one last thing?”
“Hmm?”
“Why does the photo have ‘left hand helps right hand’ on it?”
“Ah well I didn’t want to complicate the matter with midlines.”
“Midlines? What on earth are midlines. I don’t have any of those.”
“You do! Everyone does. I’ll leave that for another time or you can check out “Slice and Dice” if you’re feeling brave?”
“Til next week then?”
“Cheers dearies.”

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Parental Expectations

Given the gene pool around here, I anticipated that my children would also be allergic to exercise. We don't watch sport nor to we engage in anything that hazardous to health and mental well being.

That aside it would appear that my children, like most children have excessive amount of energy, the trampolene only gets us so far. Sometimes I just have to work with what I have and exploit it to the full.

“Ooo I am love!” he coos.
“What do you love dear?”
“Dem golden balls!” He clutches a yellow tennis ball in each hand, enraptured.
“Those are tennis balls actually.”
“Tennis balls? What is it be 'tennis'?”
“It's a game that two or four people play with rackets.”
“What is it be dah 'racket'?”
“Hang on a minute, I'll show you.” I dash off into the garage and present him with a rather dusty tennis racket.
“Ooo dis is dah good stick fing. I am liking it very much. I can be keeped it?”
“Be my guest.” I had temporarily forgotten his current liking for long handled things. Dragging a tennis racket around with us everywhere would be a considerable improvement on the toilet plunger, so much easier to explain, or rather not explain at all.

A general group interest develops between the children, the balls and the tennis racket. My daughter fetches two more from the garage. After a few minutes of wild instruction I decide that we will decamp to the park, if I hope to retain my windows in tact.

I decide that the best approach is to ambush them. Since 'outside' and 'not in the house' is a recipe for disaster, I decide to be sneaky.
“Let's all get in the car then, as we need to nip out and buy some milk.” I gather tennis rackets and sundry bribes whilst the salmon weep, wail and slap around on the floor in protest. This is only to be expected, firstly because it is a transition, and they hate those, and secondly because they hate the car.

Before too long, about 25 minutes, we zip along to the milk shop. I warn them of the detour, now that they are all safely strapped in, “we'll just drop in at the park for a while to enjoy the sunshine and a breath of fresh air.” It's a statement, not a question, but verbal protests make my ears bleed.

I park in a safe spot, lock the road side door and release them into the safety of the park the other side. The boys roll on the grass. A casual passer by might think they were having run rolling in the leaves, although the screams might give another message, “I am die in dah sun!”
“I am be melting!”
I drag the sack of play things from the back of the car, together with a cartoon of Goldfish Crackers to bribe them into movement.

The tennis court is some distance from the rest of the park. This is good because it means that no-one is particularly bothered by the screamers. I delight in the surrounding wire mesh fence. Escape is impossible as the latch on the door is too complicated and cold for them to consider touching.

I play with my daughter so that the boys can observe as that is how they learn best. I am confident that when they see how much fun we are having they are bound to want to join in too. My youngest son decides that he will join in. He hold the red plastic baseball bat in a fierce grip as he charges around trying to hit the tennis ball. I am so glad that no-one is watching. I am so glad that there are no American's around to bear witness to this travesty. I watch my son race around like a hare at the Greyhound track.

I saunter over to my other son. Kinesthetic learning is the way forward. He is already willing to have a go after his virtual experience with the Wii. I need him to be successful. We stand together like spoons as I guide his body through the motions. I remember that I have always been a lousy tennis player but I have the basics. Together we are poised. We teeter on the edge of positive reinforcement as the racket head makes contact with the ball and it flies over the net. He whips around to face me, wordless but beaming.

Of course it was a one hit wonder!


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Autistic children seldom lie

 

It’s one of those “Theory of Mind” hic-cups. Some prefer to call is guileless or innocence. They don’t dissemble or sugar coat the truth. What you see is what you get, quite refreshing in some respects. It’s one of those developmental milestones that some children never reach.

I grit my teeth and book the Respite worker for the three hour minimum. Every thing has been planned with careful precision. The parent teacher conference is only half an hour. Superior being that I am, I cannot be in two places at one time. The babysitter will come 45 minutes early, 30 minutes to become familiar [ish] and 15 minutes to allow me to drive to school. 30 minutes conference, 15 minutes home. One and a half hours work for three hours pay. This is the kind of job I want.

I brief her. My only requirement is that homework is completed whilst I'm away. I resolve that I shall prompt them through the other complex chores myself on return, or if really desperate, do them myself.

I spend a blissfully peaceful time in the conference room, quietly discussing the why's and wherefores of my daughter's education. It is a civilized meeting between grown up people with no distractions or interruptions, which roughly translates to a day at a Health Spa, or so I would imagine.

I emerge from the classroom refreshed and energized. I begin to think evil thoughts. Maybe I could use the additional hour and a half in a productive manner, child free? I remember that there are only a few short weeks until the Holidays and as yet we are without Holiday gifts of any kind. This is the price you pay for bad genes. I know it's hereditary because my own mother was born in December. The DNA is undeniable, February is a bad month for us McEwen's. Hence, 40 weeks later, another December birth day. Once might be accidental, but twice has to be the gene pool. It is only now after all three December birthday celebrations that I can turn my attention to the Holidays.

I dither. Is Holiday shopping a pleasure or merely additional persecution? Am I the only person on the planet who is allergic to shopping?

I calculate using my super brain. Twenty minutes to drive to Target and park or abandon car. Allow twenty minutes for the return journey. Maybe 30 minutes to allow for the commuting traffic and red lights. Thirty minutes to bimble around the shop with ten minutes to queue, pay and pack. Perfect!

I telephone the baby sitter to check that I am not inconveniencing her? All is well. I am granted permission to shop. I jump in the car ready to complete my quest. As I drive I contemplate how calm the baby sitter sounded, how peaceful and quiet my household was without me. I determine that I just might have found a gem, a super human being capable of child management without the aid of earplugs? I bite my lip. Is this woman the answer to my prayers? I hum, because I am alone, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth or one good Respite worker.”

I trundle around the shop with my trusty trolly. For some unaccountable reason there appears to be crowd of people with similar plans to me. I wade through the treacle of bodies who block my view of all my potential purchases. Today's shoppers have left their GPS devices at home, which means that they mill about willy nilly and far too slowly. I am certain that they hide all the really good things that I ought to be buying.

I head for home with only a few gifts under my belt but at least I have made a start.

I hide my meager purchases in the boot of the car for later retrieval and trundle into the house with empty hands. The baby sitter greets me amiably in the kitchen. It is very quiet. It is very quiet because all three of my children are plugged into their electronic devices at an exceedingly early hour of the afternoon. There is no evidence that their chores, to assemble their packed lunches and choose their clothes for tomorrow, have been completed.

I decide to complete the paper work with the Respite worker first and then attend to my children's needs, as I don't wish to delay her departure. At the dining room table I clear a space between the homework binders to complete forms and sign on the dotted line. I flip open a binder to see several untouched worksheets. “Oh dear! Haven't they done their homework!” I squeak as I check the other folders. “No. No homework,” she beams.
“How come they haven't done their homework?” I clarify, just in case I have inadvertently switched to Swahili.
“I ask him.”
“What did you ask him?”
“I ask him if he has homework?”
“You asked him, a seven year old?”
“Yes.”
“Really. And what did he say?” Go on! Surprise me why dontcha!
“He said no.”



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