Danger lurks around every corner

I take my youngest autistic son to the supermarket with me. [translation = grocery store] To say that such an errand was akin to punishment, would be an understatement, but I am out of options today. Like most children, shopping is one of his least favourite activities, [translation = me too!] but malnutrition is but one missing meal away.

I have carefully chosen an alternative store. This alternative store, has one overwhelming advantage over it’s competitors, one that the store owners are probably blissfully unaware of. The shop has electric doors, which are the bane of many a parent’s life. [translation = they’re open, they’re closed, hop in, hop out, get in the way off all customers who arrive or leave, as they are invisible, chortle merrily throughout]

However, in this particular sanctuary, the electric doors have foolishly been located in close proximity to the produce section. [translation = fruit and veg] Few things are as obnoxious as fruit and veg, to my son. The stench of produce is more than sufficient to curtail his door activities, or at least that is what I am hoping.

The produce department has long been an area of fear and dread because periodically, water sprays down upon the lush vegetation, a mist of glistening droplets. Whilst for most people this adds to the enticement, for others it is a deterrent. [translation = sensory] Should you see a small child scream and run for cover amongst the boxes of green bananas under the tressel table, clearly he is a hooligan on a quest to trample fruit. Or even a larger child for that matter.

I have only three or four items on my shopping list. I encourage his help but he will have none of it, nor will he touch the list. He won’t touch the small piece of favourite yellow coloured paper, because it is paper. [translation = tactile defensiveness, but we’re working on it] Additionally, my list is hand written and fails to meet his standards of cursive letter formation. [translation = I imagine that he would find fault with the copperplate of monks too]

I nearly trip over a basket that some idiot has abandoned in the middle of the aisle. Why do people do that? The inconsiderate nature of the general public never ceases to amaze me! My son chortles, “Elliot is idiot, Elliot is idiot, Elliot is idiot.” His scripting is right on target, which is excessively irritating. [translation = many speech delayed children use clumps of words that they collect from here and there. More often than not, the spirit of the phrase is accurate, like a dart.]

To distract himself from the pain of shopping, he reads every label aloud, loudly. This innocent pastime engages him as he bolts around with his arms folded across his chest in a protective gesture. He startles and jumps at things that I am unable to identify. [translation = hyper-vigilance] In the dairy aisle he fondles eggs and cooes gently at them. Strangely, eggs, any eggs, are always soothing to both the boys. It is as they have magical powers, even though neither of the boys eat them. This is the calmest 7 seconds that we experience.

He queries labels and harangues me with questions with every step. For every step that I take, he takes ten, rushing around in the style of a skateboarder. I choose my last item. [translation = grab something that looks vaguely like what I want and hurl it in the basket] “We are done?” he sparks.
“We are.” He accelerates off in a tail spin to the bakery department to choose his treat. [translation = task completion and reward time, for holding it together for 12 minutes]

He skids to a premature halt aghast at the view. I look at the cakes and notice that each set has a hand written label. [translation = it would appear that the bakery does not employ monks] He covers his mouth with his hands and bounces on the spot. [translation = a dilemma of the tallest order, how to look at the cakes and yet screen out the offensive labels?] He agonizes for a few more moments before a bolt of spare bravery comes to his rescue. He takes one long single step, very slowly, to bring his body close to the glass. He stands rigid with his arms close to his sides and his eyes closed. He breathes slowly and deliberately. When he’s ready, his eyes snap open and absorb the cakes.

“What is it?”
“What is what dear?”
“Petit?” Oh dear, a new word, a foreign word. Do I want my son to learn foreign words at this juncture? Other than “Brioche?”
“It means ‘little’ dear.”
“Why it is four? Why it not three?” [translation = his current favourite number]
“It’s the name of a cake dear, “petit four,” means little cake. It’s French, a different language.” [translation = actually it means ‘little oven,’ but I didn’t know that at the time] He mouth starts to move, he puffs and blows like a steam engine pulling away from the station.

“Dat is dah most stoopidest…….”

Oh dear. A level 8 meltdown ensues to the horror of all the surrounding shoppers. At six and a half, he is too large to be rolling around on the tiled floor screaming. There are too many feet and too many table legs for this to be safe. I have no option but to scoop him up and retire to edge of the wall.

Seven minutes later he has still not regained the power of speech, but he is able to lift an arm to point. I follow where his index finger indicates. The sign on the cakes reads ‘Large Petit Four.’ For him, to have ‘little’ and ‘large’ in the same description, on the same label, is too much of a contradiction for him to be able to fathom or tolerate.

I decide to give it best. [translation = admit defeat] I leave my basket of four items un-purchased. I carry my son, limp, exhausted and ever so slightly damp. [translation = ignore the rule about ‘no carrying under any circumstances’ = another campaign failure] Surely there must be something edible in the freezer at home that I can unearth? I sneak one of the cookie samples for him as compensation. [translation = and pray to the basket collector to forgive me my idiocy]

Recently, someone, probably ‘anonymous,’ implied that I might indeed be losing my grip on my rather tenuous sanity. Should you care to share your own opinions on this vexing matter, please comment upon whether I really do have a “screw loose.”

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In the Air

Speech therapy, if you pay attention, has an on effect on your life style. Ordinary little things, take on a panoply of different inferences. You find yourself behaving in a strange manner that defies rational explanation. [translation = at least if you are talking to Joe Blow {Sub translation = the man on the Clapham Omnibus}]

For instance, I don’t know if you’ve noticed if your child is able to whistle? [translation = if he/she is, I’m sure you’ve noticed {sub translation = if he /she isn’t able to, then you should count your lucky stars}]

Blowing and whistling are skills that are acquired as you develop jaw muscles, amongst other things. The opposite of blowing, is the more advanced skill of ‘sucking.’ Now, I wouldn't go as far to say that we've mastered 'sucking' but we're well on the way. The lip closure is a bit haphazard, but the motivational part is overcoming the aversion part, which is a plus. [translation = if you have no motivation to suck [or blow] for that matter, you are not going to get anywhere fast] For the moment, sucking on a straw works because of the positive reinforcer of something pleasant tasting coming into your mouth.

However, it appears that all this concentration on 'sucking' is all very well but we have neglected this skill’s partner, namely 'blowing.' I vaguely remember practicing blowing during the summer, but as with most things that I start doing, I stopped doing it when something else cropped up that also needed my attention. 'Blowing' was fine in the summer, as blowing, if you're not very good at it, can be a messy business. Naked in the sunshine blowing bubbles, or trying to, was o.k. with me. The boys both failed miserably with this task, but at least they were willing to try, whereas the previous summer they were not similarly inclined; blow bubbles? Why would we want to do that exactly? Could you explain the purpose of blowing bubbles? What is the gain for us in blowing bubbles? Just don't get it. You want us to blow bubbles? Well run along and leave us alone with our Pokemons and trains, you blow the bubbles if you find it so entertaining.

The plan, as suggested by his teacher, is to incorporate candles into every meal time. Every meal time with be like a birthday occasion with a small lit candle for them to blow out. Seems like an innocent enough suggestion. Doesn't it? I'm a bit wary about fire, flames, burning and a skill set that's not equipped to cope with such a phenomenon.

So are we going to huff and puff and blow those flames out? No, no, no, much to simple. Instead we're going to learn breath control so that we can bend the flame into a horizontal position without extinguishing the flame. Right. That's apart from the problem of what food stuff to insert the candle into. The suggestion is to use muffins, but muffins five times a day, does seem like a high price to pay in exchange for breath control. A bowl of Goldfish aren't up to the job, [translation = like shifting sand they do not provide a stable base for a potential fire hazard.] I envisage sinkage problems with the chocolate pudding, a slice of bread isn't thick enough. What else? Bananas! Of course! That should do the trick. [translation = work]

As always, good timing is an essential element to the success of the overall plan. I wait until hunger is at it’s zenith, fiddle about in the kitchen, matches near to hand, ready to present his prize of the 6 year old equivalent of bananes flambe. Since by 5:30 we are in darkness, and the lights are dimmed, my entrance is spectacular. [translation = an arresting figure]

I approach the dining room table where three small people await sustenance. I find that only one is remaining.
“Oh mom, it’s not my birthday until Friday, whadayathinkyr doin?” I look around in the gloom for the other two. I find them hiding under the table with the table cloth yanked down for extra protection. One huge pair of eyes greets me, the other pair is covered with a plate, “don’t burn me, I am the good one.”
“Why you are stabbing my banana, he is dah good one.” [translation = another miserable failure]

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