Pets don't eat pets!

It's more of a wish than a reality. These words are on the current linguistic loop, the latest “mantra.” All of them say it frequently, but two of them say it in continuous periods of up to an hour, that would be stereo of course. Why are they saying it? Because at 5:10 a.m I was not at my best. If you find a cat hanging over the edge of the new, no expenses spared, aquarium, housing two, 'free from the garden,' lizards, a woman needs to protect that kind of financial investment. As that frantic furry paw worried the livestock, I have to admit that I tapped him, purely for attention seeking purposes, not to physically punish him. Although we have several water spray bottles around for the purpose of cat education, there's never one handy when you need one. Corporal punishment has no place in our home, so my actions were duly noticed by the members of the cat protection league hereabouts.

“Why you dun dat to him!” says the first outraged junior member.
“He is our family pet, we love him always,” says the older, more severely speech impaired member, with perfect diction and piercing eye contact. [Link to cat search]
“Er, well, you're right, but he was getting the lizards!”
“He was playing wiv DJ and Gecky?”
“Not playing! He was trying to eat them! Pets don't eat pets! Right?” Horror registers on two small faces, even though only one of them is a vegetarian.
To be fair, as the day progresses, I notice that they build on this initial statement adding pertinent phrases designed to re-educate the cats, appeal to their better natures and send them on a guilt trip.
“Pets don't eat pets! Pets are our friends, not food! How would you like it if we ate you? It's o.k. we wouldn't do that to you, I'm jus sayin. If you're hungry we can feed you other food.” He witters on and on, paragraph after paragraph, a torrent of words, enough for a speech, key note speaker! I think I'm “eating crow,” or should that be “lizard?”

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A warning to world's women

Beware! Mother's Day is coming. [already gone, in Europe where Mothering Sunday is linked to the liturgical calendar]

Kindly women warn their significant others that the day approaches. Martyrs, prefer to remain silent and moan a lot, quietly with breathy sighs. Now you may be the parent of an autistic child, a mother or father perhaps? If you are, you may feel that such warnings have no relevance for you. Whilst you may well be correct and I certainly felt that I was a member of that contingent, last year, I found myself in the relevant group unexpectedly. In fact it is because Mother’s Day is still 7 weeks away, the second Sunday in May, that forewarned is fore armed. Some people with fine motor challenges and other complications, need far longer to get their act together.

Last year, I was aware that many of the words I used failed to penetrate. I also failed to appreciate that many of the words that I thought were merely afloat in the ether, had penetrated. The trouble is that you can't pick and choose which ones lodge and take root.

When your significant other is reminded that 'the day' is approaching, he may start to consider what, if anything, might be an appropriate gift or treat for you, the mother of his children. He might, if truly desperate, and most of them are, consult the offspring. For some reason, most autistic children appear to communicate far more effectively with one parent rather than the other. The one parent, often appears to be their father.

The father can extract information from an autistic child that completely escapes the mother, though why this should true, requires further research. But we warned, your children, autistic or otherwise, will recall the most remote and obscure words that you have uttered during their period of life on this earth to date, to delight and bewilder you.

Ergo, when the great day arrives, you need to scour your memory bank, mine for details and have instant accurate recall . That way when you are presented with home made picture of a rainbow, a home made rag for the purpose of cleaning your glasses and a flower picked from your very own garden, then you will know that you are a very lucky woman indeed.

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I cut off bite sized chunks of my anchovy and tomato sandwich as I contemplate. Junior contents himself with a book, “Alphabet Mystery.” Part of the trouble with the label 'non-verbal' is that in many instances, it isn't what it seems to be. By non-verbal, one assumes that the person in question, does not communicate with words, or alternatively, communicating with words is not their first choice. The latter definition, vague though it may be, would be a better description of the kind of speech delay that my boys have. Senior's speech is more halting or sporadic, interspersed with long periods of silence. Fortunately those periods of silence are much shorter that a few years back.

Back then, a day or two might pass without a word being uttered.

He'd communicate by gesture or mime. It did worry me, [very much] because when he did 'chose' to speak, he used long words, way beyond what might expect from a child so young. You doubt me? I do too to be frank, and obviously I can't recall his lines verbatim, but this would be a rough quote;
'I like Tyrannosaurus Rexes but I prefer [yes, 'prefer' not 'like better'] Lambiosaurus because they are herbivores, but you can call them plant eaters if you like.'

The echolalia was a different issue. [translation = simply put, an ability to repeat long sentences exactly like an echo]

This is why I take such an unnatural amount of pleasure when they do choose to speak. [translation = in between the times that I'm begging for them all to be quiet, of course.] It's also part of the reason that I have become so sneaky and underhand, as I tip toe about trying to ear wig. Generally speaking, if you hear some unusual speech pattern emerging, or rather 'being voiced' it's handy to have a quick check list available so that you don't get your hopes up too high too fast. Firstly you should run a scan over all media input that they have been exposed to in the last six months, as it is highly likely that they're just repeating some fascinating line that they've picked up and are now perseverating upon. [translation = probably the most annoying of annoying new phrases] So when you hear your child 'talking' get as close as you can without being visible and then run through the following options.
The rules of the 'non' verbal
– talk to an imaginary friend or person but not in a pretend manner [highly unlikely]
– talk to somebody, a real person [possible and probable in some instances]
– talk to a 'thing' / 'something,' that is technically inadequate, but not in a pretend manner [ more likely]
– don't talk at all [ most likely]

I would hope that this tick sheet would save you a lot of disappointment.
Meanwhile, in conclusion we can say that speech delays, when coupled with autism, make a heady mix for the unwary and naïve, such as myself. Speech therapy and professional teachers, make no end of headway with both my boys. It may well be true, that the subtle nuances of the English language will always escape them………………………….…excuse me, someone is poking me in the ribs…………….
“Don't do that dear it hurts!”
“Sorree, but I am needing your hand.” I give him my hand, but he starts scribbling on it with a felt pen. [translation = marker]
“Don't do that you big mucker.”
“I not 'mucker' I 'writer.'”
“What is it that you're trying to write and why do you want to write it on my hand?”
“I am wanting to write 'x's because you smell too badly to have kisses.”

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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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