Task Completion

helicopter rain016

By the by, in case you’re in need of a light read, one of my short stories has just been published by Kind of a Hurricane Press in an anthology called “In Gilded Frame,” and is available to download or purchase a hard copy from their website.

It references this picture, Danse Macabre by Michael Wolgemut.

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Muscle Power Versus Dirt


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Danger Money

lethal weapon-peeler012

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Handy hint [possibly] number 2

It may be that you have the kind of autistic child that objects strongly to 'outside.' If you don't, just skip this and go and find something more relevant.

If you are truly unfortunate 'outside' also includes the garden. [translation = yard] If you find that attempting to take your child outside results in a serious case of the heebie jeebies, then you may also find that you and your child [ren] are trapped within the four walls of your home.

It is probably a good idea to try and find out what exactly is the true nature of their objection to 'outside.' This can be tricky if your child is also non-verbal. Some of it may be sensory in the realms of weather, temperature, the degree of light intensity and so on. This list is more or less endless, but again, difficult to pin down if language is not forthcoming. If you're happy for your house to remain your prison, all well and good, but even the more reclusive parent will find that on occasion, it is necessary to leave the house, if only for a few basic essentials such as food.

With that in mind, it is probably best to tackle the issue before it festers and becomes ingrained, the only other alternative being, that you will eventually leave your house in a six foot wooden coffin.

Now it may be that you are out numbered, one parent versus two children determined to remain troglodytes. You may be able to fool a friend into assisting you with this task, but failing that option, it may only be possible to deal with one child at a time. This is especially difficult, as it probably means that one child will be inside unsupervised, whilst you 'deal' with the other one outside. If this is the case place the inside child near a glass window or door with whatever the current obsession is. Whilst it is painful to admit that you are allowing one child to perseverate [push the ladder up on the fire engine, push the ladder down on the fire engine] for 20 minutes, this has to be balanced against the benefit of acclimatizing the other child to the 'outside.' Try and ignore the fact that the inside child is oblivious to the screaming agony of the outside child, as this is just a distracter to the parent. But I digress.

What can you do outside that might make being outside less agonizing or possibly more attractive? This depends entirely upon what you have to work with, as each child's unique make up will determine the outcome. For one of my children this meant lugging out Thomas the tank engine and his numerous cohorts into the garden and seleotaping them to the fence at sight level for a four and a half year old. Whilst I'd like to describe this as a treasure hunt with those pleasant connotations, the reality was more of a screaming rescue mission on his part. Clearly, this kind of 'game' requires setting up in advance and it's essential that the trains should be easily removable for those with poor fine motor skills. Ear plugs may be beneficial for the parent also.

For the other one, I found that the alphabet, shapes and numbers painted on the fence, paths, plant pots and other bits and bobs was a much better fit.
If you can make this a daily 'exercise' eventually you may be rewarded by the ability to have both children rescuing their respective preferences at the same time, therefore reducing the parental stress of leaving a child unsupervised in the house.
With luck, much, much later, they may begin to enjoy the experience. Perhaps, much, much later, it might become 'fun.'

I think most things have the potential to become 'fun' when they are no longer 'new.'

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Conversation piece

I clean the toilet. At the age of 46 I can admit that two years ago I was uncertain how many sides a dodecahedron had? I can also admit, that it was my four year old that caused me to wonder. A speech delay combined with autism makes for any number of misunderstandings and confusions. How can a child point out incorrect pronunciation of a Pokemon character, too subtle to be understood by elderly years, and yet simultaneously, that same child is unable to remember the word ‘cup?’

I use bleach and ignore the screaming environment. As usual I am a vision of loveliness, jeans, T-shirt and yellow Marigolds. A small and persistent person, is close by, watching my progress after his latest ‘oopsie, too late, oh well, never mind, better luck next time.’

I resolve to be more careful about what new mantra I install in them next time. I scrub, flush, rinse and cleanse. His nasal tones reach my ears. Although he is always nasal, this time he is more nasal than usual, because his nostrils are pinched closed to protect them from the bleach fumes. “What is your favourite shape Mummy?”
“Er, I think probably a circle.” It is unusual for him to be close by whilst I am performing this kind of task, he is almost ‘chummy.’ [translation = unusually friendly]
“Wot abow trapezoids, don you like dem too?” He doesn’t usually engage me in ‘casual conversation.’
“I do like them, I just prefer circles.”
“You don like parallelograms too?” O.k. maybe not ‘casual conversation’ per se, as this is one of his preferred topics, but he still has to tolerate the fumes to remain here and chat to me.
“I do, it's just that I like circles best.” I think we might be having a reciprocal conversation?
“Oh. What is your favourite tertiary colour?” How many exchanges is that? Why is he still here? Why hasn’t he given up yet and left me stranded in mid- ‘conversation’ like he usually does? Just as I begin to think that we might really be having a conversation is usually the same moment that he disappears, whilst I’m in mid-sentence.

“What's yours?”
“Brown, because it is the colour of chocolate and that is my favourite food too.”
“Well, that’s lovely. Thank you for telling me that. You’re getting to be such a great helper. I love how you use your words these days.” I turn to face his blue eyes, eyes where the pupils are focused on mine. I move to one side so he can flush, perform his ‘helper’ duty.
“Daz o.k. I love how you ……you……you are dah great cleanerer!” His hands move from his nose to cover his ears in anticipation, of the Niagara flush.

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ABA and aversions

A few years back junior had a strong aversion to water. This was odd for someone who also had a compulsion to be squeaky clean. I might describe it as an aversion to being wet, but that would not be accurate. If a droplet of water fell on his clothing, he would not be 'wet,' but he would be naked in a nano second. Taking your clothes off regardless of your whereabouts, might be mildly amusing if you are very small, a toddler say. It is less funny, depending upon which continent you are on, when you are bigger, in a public forum and in a cold season.

When we moved to this house, junior had yet to be born. The one thing I wanted in a home was a big kitchen. The one thing I did not want was a swimming pool. At home only millionaires and movie stars have pools. My hormone filled, pregnant brain knew that a pool was a bad idea. How would I clean it? What if it leaked? What if somebody drowned?

Two or three summers ago we discovered that the pool was 'safe' for junior. He wouldn't go near it. This was consistent with his aversion to water. By chance, midway into the season, he discovered that when the water reached 98 degrees, the pool was fun. It was not the water itself, but the temperature that he objected to. This was confirmed when September came and the temperature dipped below the critical 98 degrees. That was it, he reverted to type and nothing would persuade him to put so much as a toe in it. During this time, swimming sessions were combined with a shower to clean off on completion. Dressing thereafter was pretty optional. All my children were extremely clean for several months.
At the end of the first week of September, it occurred to me, that junior hadn't been near a shower or bath for 7 days. He would not use the shower in the house and had forgotten that once upon a time, he enjoyed baths. By the end of the second week I was getting worried. He was getting smelly. I asked spouse to help, that perhaps they could have a shower together, as slippery small people require super human strength. It was not a successful exercise for anyone. After the 'shower' he did have a few damp bits but this merely served to redistribute the dirt and add a considerable quantity of snot to his person as he howled in rage and frustration.
At that time he was only at 'school' for two and a half hours a day, which gave me lots of time to strategize. We adopted a different approach. A very, very slow approach. This might be more accurately described as 'de-sensitization.' He was still 'Thomas' obsessed at the time. We made the unprecedented step of playing with Thomas upstairs, on the landing for 20 minute periods. Gradually we edged closer to the bathroom. Once in the bathroom at the furthest distance from the bath itself, we tip toed closer. When the other's were bathing, we would play with Thomas close by on the carpet, which meant that he observed the 'fun' they were having, and was occasionally splashed. Day after day, week after week.
We played Thomas in the empty bath, touched the taps, rolled the wheels along the side. We had other preferred activities in the bath; snacks, reading and drawing with markers. It took forever. Each progressive step caused meltdowns and genuine angst for everyone. He was so filthy you could have chipped off a crust of dirt with a chisel. By Christmas, we got there, toe by toe, inch by inch.

What did I learn from this experience? That I left it too long to start. I should have recognized the problem immediately, not let things lag for a week or two hoping that it would go away. My lack of action merely made the aversion become truly entrenched. Even now I need to remind myself that even though 'water' is part of the problem, it is coupled with the 'temperature problem.' I know that they do not have a 'will of iron,' instead they have an 'aversion.'

Aversions cannot be tricked, they are real. I also know that whilst we are in steady state as far as bathing is concerned at the moment, that the whole exercise is likely to be repeated, when we next experience change, although hopefully the transition will be swifter. That's why it's really called ABA; from A to B, and then back to A again six months later, or sooner if you're very unlucky or careless like me.

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