How to stop autistic children from scripting

Scripting in autism can be defined variously but generally refers to the ability to repeat phrases or single words many times over.  The words and phrases are often copied but can also be self generated.  Scripting is generally considered to be an impairment that requires intervention and is usually paired with the word ‘fading.’  Scripting and echolalia often come hand in hand which is why so many of the phrases are easily recognizable as they’re delivered with accurate mimicry.  A three year old who scripts Boris Karloff may be the source of amusement, but with an older child, public opinion is less forgiving.

Scripting serves many different functions for a child; it can be calming and self-organizing, a bit like white noise.  Frequently the child is not aware that he or she is scripting, which makes it far more difficult to stop or reduce the behavior.

Scripting is generally deemed to be socially unacceptable, which is why it receives so much attention, disproportionately so in my opinion.  If someone hums a tune, or whistles quietly in public, no-one is likely to turn a hair, but most of us will notice someone who appears to talk to themselves – a big red flag.  If that person repeats the same word or phrase, you can more or less guarantee that everyone’s attention is arrested.  I would hope that it is this aspect that concerns most people, how to let the autistic person continue with their daily doings, without being gawped at?  I suspect that in another decade, given the arrival of the blue tooth, such behavior will become less and less noticeable.

The negative elements of scripting are well documented elsewhere, as are the many techniques to help fade this behavior, so would prefer to posit an alternative perspective.  Although scripting can be irritating for the audience, or parent in my particular case, it does have a number of positive elements that don’t receive much attention.

If a child is non-verbal or has a significant speech delay, repeating the same word of phrase is basically practice.  It may sound like a scratch on a record, but all those repeats add up.  It may not be that practice makes perfect, but it certainly helps articulation.  They also function as a prompt; if you can recall the starting phrase like: ‘once upon a time,’  ‘this guy walked into the room,’ ‘there was an Irishman, an Englishman and a Welshman,’ – then the rest of the story can flow.

The scripts around here are many and various, they change over time and often become longer and more complicated.

[please note that ‘bing, bing, bing,’ refers to BBC America where swear words and other rude references are bleaped]

***

Following the triennial I.E.P. certain pertinent facts grab my attention. Forget the academics, it’s those all elusive social skills that need nailing.  Mastery is the difference between potential budding relationships and isolation – if not mastery, at least a move in the right direction. We collude and conspire for some considerable period thereafter, before the latest campaign evolves.  Although he often thinks kindly thoughts, he rarely if ever voices them, aloud.  He’s a taciturn kind of a guy.  At other times, he volunteers information that some people would prefer not to hear, because he’s a truthful kind of a guy.  Generally he’s on the periphery rather than in the center of the fray.

We adopt a two-pronged approach after lengthy discussions on tactics – rewards for speaking up in a positive manner and even greater rewards for refraining from saying negative things out loud.  We practice modeling at home, all those everyday situations, examples, clues about what is expected and when.

On day one we experience three incidents where thought is put into action.  He avoids telling another child how feeble and inferior her artistic creation turned out.  He catches a boy as he trips to prevent the fall.  He offers voluntary praise to a youngster for his sterling academic efforts.

It’s a veritable triumph.  This kind of thing usually takes weeks, months, forever, a lifetime before we ever see anything. Three deeds equate to 3 M&M’s, as positive bribery is reinforcing initially.

The following day we repeat the exercise, this time at the dinner table where we are all gathered to hear of his exploits.  He makes a start, after a little coaxing.

“Well I can fink of one thing that I am doing.”

“Wonderful!  Tell us more!”

“There was this guy.”

“What was his name?” interjects his father.

“Dunno but he was a medium sized kind of a kid.”

He never knows anyone’s name, grade or class, “he had this rock.”

“A rock!  Oh no.  What did he do?”

“He was, he was, he was gonna hit this small sized kid on the bing!”

“On the bing?  It’s o.k., you can say the rude word.”

“On the butt!”

“And what did you do?”

“I told him,  ‘listen up buddy, don’t you hit him on the bing, bing, bing or I’ll go and tell the yard duty lady.’”  He uses his most jocular tone, a good tactic when dealing with unknown rock thugs.  So much of it is scripts, but it gives him flow and rhythm and confidence.

“And what did he say?”

“He jus said ‘duh’ and he hit hisself on the forehead.”  He demonstrates the gesture, just in case any of us were in any doubt.

To everyone’s surprise, he recounts ten additional incidents of his intervening heroism, tales of daring do, most involving rocks, with one exception, one involving ropes.

“So this medium sized guy in a grey sweater, he has these lil kids tied up to a pole at recess.”

His credibility begins to wane,

“What did he tie them up with?”

“Rope.”

“Rope?  Where would you get rope at school?”  His sister leaps to his defense, “jump ropes mom, he’s telling the truth, you can tie people to trees with the jump ropes.”  I do not find this fact particularly helpful, but the detail of the ‘grey sweater’ gives weight to the guise of truth.

“And what did you do?”

“I said to this guy…. ‘hey buddy, listen up……untie those kids or I’m gonna have to report yah to the Principal.’”

“You seem to have turned into a superhero overnight dear.”

“Yeah.”

“And did you tell the Principal?”

“No, I ain’t no tattle tail.”

“!”

“And there’s another one.”

“Another one?”

“Yeah, this big guy was peeking at the girls’ restroom.”

“Peeking?”

He demonstrates the act of peeking, such that we can be in no doubt as to his meaning.

“Really.  And what did you do?”

“I said to him I said, ‘listen up buddy, don’t you go being all bing, bing, bing.’”

“Did you use a rude word?”

“No I jus wanted him to know about the rudeness.”

“!”

“And there’s another one.”

“Another one?”

“Yeah, this guy called me a ‘bing, bing, bing.’”

“What word did he use?”

“Dickhead.”

“!”

“Yeah.”

“And what did you do?”

“I said ‘yeah, that’s right, I’m a bing, bing, bing.’”

“You used the rude word?”

“No, I used the ‘bing, bing, bing.’”

“!”

I begin to feel dizzy with the speed of his delivery – conversations of this type are more rare than hen’s teeth.  So animated, so jovial, centre stage and frolicking in the limelight – cheeky little monkey.  This is positively unprecedented.

“And dis is the last one.”

“Last one?”

“Yeah, it was recess and this medium sized kid had a rock and he was gonna throw it at the Principal.”

“The Principal?”  The skeptics amongst us exchange glances – either he’s forgotten the boy that cried wolf or he’s had a personality transplant without our knowledge – which is more unlikely?

“Yeah.”

“And what did you do?”

“I stood in front of him with my body and went ‘hey dude, get a load of this!’ and then I made my funny face.”

“And what did he do?”

“He walked away.”

“Did anybody else see this?”

“Sure there was loads of kids – it was recess.”

“Savior of the Principal!  Did the Principal see you do this?”

“Yes.”

“Did she say anything to you……for saving her?”

“Yes.  She gave me two gold cards to go into the raffle for the ‘Student in the Spotlight’ this month.”

“Do you have the gold cards?”

“No she put em in the raffle.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“What a truly spectacular day you’ve had.  That’s earned you 12 M & M’s.”

“Tomorrow I’m gonna get a whole packet I fink.”

“We shall all enjoy watching you earn them, since you’ll be home, because it will be Saturday.”

“It’s Saturday tomorrow?  No School?”

“That’s right, you’ll have to be a superhero at home.  Won’t that be fun.”

“You ….you…..you…. got any spare rocks around this joint?”

This may come across as a fairly standard family conversation, nothing out of the ordinary, how would I know, I have no point of comparison?  But around here, it’s heart stomping.

Why would I share this, now that they’re so much older?  Isn’t it too private?  Perhaps, maybe it is.  All I know is the numbers of google searches that bring people to my site.  The search is a variation on a theme – ‘how to stop autistic kids from scripting’ – it might be an idea to re-think that one – it’s not all negative, it can be a springboard.

So….was it true or was it false?  I don’t know and I actually don’t care.  Six years ago I would never have dreamed of such a conversation.  What if he is prone to a little exaggeration?  It’s all in the mind afterall.  What really is the difference between a rock, a pebble and a wee nubby chip of gravel anyway!  It’s all about scale or do I mean perspective?

p.s. I came across this site called “love to know” – autism.  They have an empathy quiz.  It’s about half way down on the “left margin.” I’m not suggesting you take it yourself because as a seasoned Cosmopolitan quiz taker myself [several life times ago,] I think we all know how to fudge the answers to get the right result.  That said, it may just be that there’s someone new in your life who is really trying to make an effort to get to know your children and family, so this would be a gentle introduction in 10 quick questions without the intimidation.  For me, as a parent of autistic children, I feel I have a duty to tread gently when it comes to the mainstream.  It’s easy to forget how different our world is from other people’s.  We’re unlikely to win over public opinion with a battering ram – our greatest asset is our children themselves, who they are, as individuals.


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Heads or Tails?

Echolalia is a strange little beastie. It’s the ability to repeat, exactly what you hear without, apparently, even thinking about it. It’s almost reflexive. Some people do it all the time. Sometimes my boys are aware that they’re doing it, other times they’re not. Everyone around them, is very much aware that they’re doing it. It’s one sure fired way to have everyone’s attention, especially those people who are not familiar with this ability.

As often as not, it’s mistaken for cheekiness, or ‘having an attitude’ as we say out here.

I can see how this misunderstanding comes about.

I chat with my pal. I am a grown up person and so is my pal. My pal is American, which means that she has a distinctive accent. My children have some kind of mild Mid-Atlantic accent and significant speech delays. My pal knows about the speech delays. She knows the boys are autistic. Unusually, the boys are relatively quiet as they enjoy 30 minutes of electronics time, a bribe for peace and tranquility.

“Ya know I’m jus drownin in errands, so I cun only stay a while.”
“Drownin in errands. Drownin in errands. Drownin in errands.”

Pal glances across at the two boys whose eyes are glued to tiny little electronic screens. They both repeated the same part of her sentence, the bit that was most interesting or possibly most melodic. The both matched the timbre of her words exactly. Two sotto voce little echoes.

“Oh I know, but I’m so glad you came anyway.”
She drags her attention back to me.
“So I gotchya gift and I’m sure yur just gonna love it!”
“Gonna love it! Gonna love it! Gonna love it!”

She blinks wide eyed and looks back them again. Neither of them pay her any heed. They’ve knocked her off her stroke. This is hardly surprising. Few of us are that familiar with the sound of our own voices from the outside, or rather a listener’s perspective. Maybe you have trouble recording your own voice mail message, for just this reason. Our own voices never sound quite right when we hear them recorded.

“I’m sure it will be lovely as always.”
“Now dontcha go peeking before Christmas Day!”
“Dontcha go peeking! Dontcha go peeking! Dontcha go peeking!”
Her lips tighten, wary of uttering another syllable.
“It’s o.k. they don’t do it anything like as much as they used to.”
“Yeah? How cum they repeat mine but not yurs?”
“But not yurs! But not yurs! But not yurs!”
“Probably because they hear me all the time, too boring, whereas yours is so much more interesting.”

She pauses uncertain whether she’s brave enough to proceed. Her finger tip taps the tablecloth before she adds, “love ya guys!”

Silence follows. We exchange glances that mean ‘go figure?’ The boys move off to the bathroom in concert, still gripping their Gameboys. Pal stands to leave as we hear flushing noises and lots of general disagreement.

We step away towards the front door together, arms linked as I may not see her again for quite a while. Usually I prompt the boys through their goodbyes, but I leave it today.

The boys skate after us in their socks, unstable and skittish.
“You are goed now?”
My pal stands by the now open door, which obscures the visual cue on the other side. For the first time ever they are voluntarily here to say goodbye. I dither. Should I hide them behind me? Should I hide them behind the door? Should I thwart this first enthusiastic attempt? Should I slam the door in my pal’s face? I need to keep an emergency blanket by the door. She faces the boys still skating in their socks, only their socks, as they attempt appropriate social skills of the fond farewell.

“Er yes…um…Happy Christmas you guys!” she offers trying to focus on their happy faces.

“Happy Holidays!” they bellow back, because political correctness only gets you so far.


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I do not like green eggs or otherwise

 


I feel like a pedestrian in the middle of dodgem cars.
“I can hear my own bones!” he splutters and stretches like an athlete.

The other one bellows, “In the old ball game! In the old ball game! In the old ball game!” My mantra singer. This is interspersed with the many lines of Dr.Seuss that he has committed to memory, especially the Green Eggs and Ham volume. Whilst I dither whether on not to buy ear protectors for either or both of the boys, it occurs to me that I may be in greater need myself, as the ear plugs just aren't up to the job any more.

Motor mouth continues relentlessly. His big brother complains, “you are just so annoying. You are so loud. You're driving me crazy with all your “motor mouth talk.” Mom, he's bothering me.” This stream of words seems to be a replacement for pouncing and throttling the breath out of him. I consider this to be an all round improvement all round, in a carousel kind of a way. “Red alert, red alert, red alert,” chortles the little one. “Mom, he's driving me crazy!”

“I know dear, I'll just finish making the sandwiches and then we can fill up his mouth with bread.” I do a double take. Did I really say that out loud? “I mean I'll find his vibrating spoon in a minute.” My son looks at me with wonky eye brows, deliberates a while and then announces, “don't worry mom, I'm gonna deal with him for you,” and marches to towards the family room, the source of the incessant chatter. I drop the knife in the sink and hare on after him.

They stand face to face, much too close, nostrils flaring.
“Listen here you!”
“Red alert, red alert, red alert.”
“Why do you keep saying that? You are so annoying!”
“In the old ball game! In the old ball game! In the old ball game!”
“Can you just shut up already!”
“Red alert, red alert, red alert.”
“I've had enough of you for one day. You've been doing this all morning! Right!” He marches back into the kitchen, opens the correct drawer, rummages around in the back and whips out the vibrating spoon. Seconds later, in a smooth and seamless transition, he presents himself to his tormentor. “Here motor mouth, stick this in and chew it!”
“Eeow, that's gross, eeow, that's gross, eeow, that's gross.” He summits nonetheless.

We wait. Soon, all we can hear is the buzz of the spoon and the purr of the air conditioning. A cool breeze sweeps through the house and peace reigns for a few moments.

And in my other “life”…….


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The Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

 


When I was young, and irritating, I would pester my mother in the kitchen in the hour that she was preparing dinner.

If I persisted for long enough, and I usually did, eventually she would tell me, “oh, go have some bread and butter if you're really hungry,” and I always was, really hungry that is to say.

The nutritional message may be different these days, but the underlying fight between delayed gratification and hunger, is a fine balance.

My youngest son now eats bread. Admittedly he will only eat one particular brand of bread, but it's still bread. We induced him to eat bread by happenstance. Being the chocolate lover that he is, the product Nutella was a gift from on high, liquid chocolate with no bits in it. If you put a teaspoonful of Nutella on a piece of bread the size of your thumbnail, eventually, after many painful screaming months, you too may achieve bread consumption. After a further 18 months, one can slowly alter the ratio of bread to Nutella, if you're very sneaky.

Whilst they are all out at the park, I prepare colourful, organic vegetables to make kebabs. It's far too hot to put the oven on, so cremation is the only way to go. Barbeque. I run the sequence through my mind. Junior will obviously not eat the end result but that's no reason why he shouldn't help prepare a family meal. Apart from his dodgy fingers and other malfunctioning parts.

It will be a delightful family enterprise, as long as nobody stabs themselves on the skewers. To date, junior will attempt a spoon and sometimes a fork, but anything resembling a weapon is off limits and self imposed. Fortunately, since everything he consumes, could be termed finger food, there is no need for a knife at this stage.

I nip outside to light the barbeque. The bite sized pieces of chicken marinade silently in the refridgerator before they prepare to meet their fate. I remind myself that before too long we should increase the pace on his diet. 17 foods is all very well but 4 foods a year is a sorry record. There is little time during the holidays, to prepare his full panoply of foods and I suspect that my lack of reinforcement and consistency, has allowed a few of them to drop off his agenda and become 'new' foods again. Of course I only have myself to blame. It's my fault that he has eaten a Nutella sandwich followed by chocolate pudding and Goldfish crackers for over a month now. Dinnertime is the least effective time to introduce new foods. Whilst he continues to grow and his appetite has increased, his diet hasn't matched those spurts.

I reach for the Nutella and leave my renewed resolve on the shelf. Maybe tomorrow? It would be so lovely to have a peaceful dinner, outside on a balmy Californian evening. Perhaps we might have a quiet dinner, quiet enough to hear the naff little water fountain that should induce calm but cannot be heard over the din. No matter how many wind chimes I add to the pergola, we'd need a force ten gale and a 30 piece brass band to out 'din' them. I smoosh the finest smearing of Nutella into the air bubbles of the high fibre bread, so that he can't lick it off and leave the bread untouched. I cut the sandwich into two perfectly even halves. I throw caution to the wind, grab another slice, slick it with Nutella and fold it over, a round and a half of sandwiches to fill the ever growing tummy.

I hear the screams before I hear the garage door open, our normal early warning system. Seconds later three children burst through the door and scatter like thieves. Two carry Jamba Juice cups, from a chain of shops that specialize in fresh fruit smoothies. The empty wrapper in the wake of my son's departure, tells me that his compensation for the agony of 'outside' was a cookie. It is a rather large cookie, the size of CD. 16 ounces of pulverized fruit is likely to dull the hungriest of appetites. I dither before threading the skewers myself, an acknowlegement of zero motivation in children.

Twenty minutes later rainbow kebabs glisten with temptation. The tantalizing wafts of smoke lure spouse away from the computer and inspire him to gather the troops. Barely have our bottoms touched the chair seats, when a weeping wailing and gnashing of teeth ensues from junior. I assume that the rainbows are not attractive to him, seeing as how they are also in close proximity to his person. I assume that barbeque smoke is torture. I assume that since he is not hungry, he would prefer to skip to the pudding. I assume that he is tired and overwhelmed after two hours in the park. I await confirmation of all my correct assumptions.

“Dat is dah bad. Dat is dah pooky. Dat is dah wah wah,” he wails. I find that his terminology does not match my current reference system. His siblings giggle with expectation. This is the nightly travesty that we continue to refer to as dinner.

I turn to spouse, “did he say pooky or pukey?” Perhaps he's gone off Nutella?
“Don't ask me?” Perhaps he gone off bread! No, please, I take it all back, just don't let him have gone off bread! He can't lose 2 foods just like that. I don't want to go back to 15 foods, I like 17 foods, even if they are all the wrong ones!
“Pooky, pooky, pooky, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah,” he continues in a high pitched, querulous baby voice, from some dratted cartoon no doubt. The giggles of his siblings turn to guffaws of positive reinforcement, if not encouragement.
“Why is it bad dear?”
“Look it, look it, look it!” he bellows as he stands on his chair to make a passingly fair imitation of King Kong. I look at the sandwich. No foreign bodies have contaminated it as far as I'm aware. It is exactly the same sandwich he has had for weeks. That's it, he's bored of it, I've over done it by being so lazy, by seeking a little peace. No peace and we've lost a piece or maybe two?
“Cut, cut, cut!” he shrieks. He makes ineffective Karate chops on his sandwich.
“Don't do that dear, you'll squish it and then it won't taste very nice.”
“Cut it, cut dah sandwich!” he roars.
“It doesn't need cutting dear, it's already folded over.”
“Agh, dah stoopid. I cannot be eating dah fold, I can only be eating dah cut.”
Spouse hands him a knife, “O.k. fuss pot, you want it cut, then you cut it yourself.” One child covers his eyes, one child covers her mouth, as we all watch spell bound at the inaugural knife juggling world record. Junior stabs the sandwich repeatedly with malice aforethought. He manages a ragged tear that dismembers the fold from the rest of the half of the sandwich. He picks up the fold with the nails of his thumb and index fingers and hurls it a good 15 feet, underarm. “Pooky!” he curses, as it lies like a dried up worm on the asphalt. His voice drops several octaves. He sinks his teeth in his transformed sandwich, to blast us with a gravelling tone, “I am the master of disguise!”

Echolalic, yet eerily apt.

But it would appear that this isn’t the only branch of the family with communication “problems.”

 



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Perseveration – what it is?

A very good question. Go to the top of the class. I can offer you a dictionary definition – or the various definitions as proposed by the experts. They make for a good starting point. However, they reflect the ‘discipline’ of the expert. The cognitive expert’s version differs markedly from the behaviouralist’s version and so on.

How about -‘Persistence of a verbal or other behavior beyond what is apparently intended, expected or needed.’ from “Behavenet.”

Or we could use “Wiki’s” version – ‘Uncontrollable repetition of a particular response.’ We could try something more medical in it’s terminology, but for current purposes, we have enough to work with, more than enough.

I have two versions to offer. They have a common element – repetition, otherwise they differ. Both of my boys, do this. They do it in different ways from each other. They each do it differently this month/year/ day, from how they did it last time around. It is essentially a moving target that often reflects the ‘stage,’ whatever that might be, at any pin prick in time.

Take the repetitive phrases, little ditties gleaned from the cosmos, that they repeat in a loop, sometimes for many hours; ‘to infinity and beyond,’ ‘Elliot…..idiot,’ ‘ I am not a number.’ Here, we have echolalic [translation – repeat as in an echo] tendencies, which complicate the picture.

What about the fixations or special interests? “ I am a train, not a boy, not a toy, not a girl, not a lamb,” with the elements of rhyme, meter and rhythm. Autistic children often fixate on a narrow subject that infiltrates any number of aspects, if not all, of their lives. Trying to dissect different elements may only confuse you further.

How about we try slipping in the tick or the stim? Stims and tics are terms used as shorthand to describe ‘self stimulatory behaviours.’ Many of us are familiar with hand flapping, flickering fingers and oh so many more variations on a theme. Many parents get in a great tizzy about these habits, in part because they are so noticeable to other people. The child with a hand down his diaper will only attract a moment’s attention. Not so the 7 year old, or older child. The child who whizzes around making train noises, repeating the phrases of the ‘Thomas the Tank engine’ books by the Rev. Aubrey, is a more subtle version. People may notice, but it’s ‘cute’ in a three year old. In an older child the same habit marks him or her in the public eye. But he’s word perfect, so it that echolalia instead?

There again, we have the OCD factor – ‘trains are busy, trains are fast, I am a train, no I can’t eat trains, eat nothing.’ The fear factor, the phobia, special interest or fixation can all play a role and confuse the picture, especially if you are not an expert. It’s hard to determine what you are witnessing, which makes it more difficult to decide what, if anything, to do about it?

Logical, very logical thinking, is a factor that plagues the ineffectual parent, frequently. A small incident of no particular significance can blow up into a major factor without warning.

Strangely, I have lots of photographs of my children having meltdowns. How could that possibly be? Why would I have a camera in my hand at such a time? Because the few seconds of delay in a digital camera, for an autistic child, can mean the difference between a photographic opportunity to capture a sweet memory and the moment of self destruction. The hair trigger, is aptly named. But I digress.

What about the child that tears his clothes, shreds and rips them? Would that be tactile defensiveness or sensory integration issues, or both? Probably, a millinery problem for the parent. What if he sucks his clothes, chews them, bites them? Is that oral defensiveness or the sensory complications? But what if he rakes his skin, pulls his hair, bangs his head, pinches himself to leave welts? Is this different or the same? For us, these have been passing phases, severe when they first manifested themselves, but less so, during the next visitation period. They come and go, which makes them closer to stims. Perhaps?

Does this help? Probably not. If it is of any use at all, it is merely to illustrate, as always, that autistic children [and adults] exist on a spectrum. There is no one size fits all.

So let us leave aside the definition of the indefinable. What do you, as a parent, do about it? Well if I knew the answer to that I would be doing a much better job than I am! All I can say, is that whatever you call it, however you define it, it exists and you need to deal with it. When these little flurries occur, you have several options depending upon whether it is of a destructive nature, be that physical self mutilation or mental self mutilation. If your child is hurting him or herself, for me, there is no other option than to intervene, distract, redirect or cuddle. If it is ‘mental’ [translation – “I am dah bad one, I am stoopid, I have a bad brain] the choices are the same.

However, sometimes [translation = often] they are calming, harmless, positive. If you have a non-verbal child and they repeat the same sentence for 40 minutes or more, it may be intensely annoying but it’s strengthening they jaw muscles. [translation – and they’re having fun] It is harmless, it is calming.

Depending upon what they are perseverating on, I find it helpful to think of the behaviour as a minor skin rash. You treat the condition according to it’s severity. If it itches you scratch it. Often it is an unconscious reaction. If it’s a warm day you scratch it more often. Maybe at night, it doesn’t itch at all, or when you’re swimming. Sometimes it’s really itchy and you have to franticly scratch away, you may even bleed a little, but it will form a scab. I don’t want the scab to turn into a scar, by doing this too often, but scratching an itch every so often, doesn’t seem quite so awful as many would have us believe.

Sometimes, it is not calming. Sometimes it is the eye of the storm, accelerating. This can be a fearful experience. [translation = for the parent] But it is meeting a need. One parent may take a child out to exercise, exhibit some sporting prowess to release the tension. Another parent must stand by and watch the eruption of the vortex, so that the child may experience peace, expended. Intervention isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. [translation = good]

When you witness your naked child hurling himself against a glass door repeatedly, as well as all the other direct incidents I’ve mentioned already, I tell you truly, that it is difficult to think ‘deep proprioceptive input’ and ‘how can we achieve the same result is a less destructive manner?’ If one is slow, deliberate and determined, whilst the other is a fizzling firework let off in the house, I may be the one person on the planet who understands that you may just want to throw up your hands and weep in defeat. [translation = especially if they do it at the same time] But I think you’ll find, that there are far more people around with similar experiences than you might expect.

I wish that there were easy answers and that I could point you in the right direction, but unfortunately, direct experience does not necessarily result in accurate data.

But how am I so different, with my little quirks and foibles, the need to have things ‘just so.’ The temperature of my tea, made in just the right way. The song that seeps through every brain cell, that I cannot turn off, that drives me to distraction but I cannot stop, although I don’t ‘voice’ it.

What about you? Do you have your rituals? Is your nose out of joint [translation – bummed] if your commute is disrupted? Bummed [translation = annoyed] by the lack of ‘signal’ from your cell phone in a dead zone. The unreasonable manic driver who cuts you off, that you would gladly hang, draw and quarter, so long as you didn’t have to meet him face to face, or his family. When swear words [translation –cuss words] rile up like bile in your throat but you refrain from articulating them aloud.

Maybe you don’t throw a hissy fit, [translation – meltdown] because you’re an adult and have learned what is, and is not acceptable, but the gut reaction is the same.

They are all a variations on a theme, maybe a trapezoid peg in a quatrefoil hole. Or maybe, the other way around?

This is a useful site with lots of “practical suggestions.”


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Curb shopoholic tendencies

I dither for longer than is strictly necessary. I opt for the scrubbing brush rather than the carpet cleaner because it is quieter. I take one last look at them all before I leg it upstairs to the bedroom to eliminate, or at least diminish the paint, pooh, chocolate stains. These are not the kind of stains that improve or evaporate over time. Without the noisy carpet cleaner, I can hear whatever it is, that is happening downstairs whilst I am up because the walls and floor are made of paper. The friction of the brush bristles elicts beads of sweat. Inefficiency, housemaids knee and tennis elbow delay me. I return breathless seven minutes later.

They have broken the lock on the television and are occupied watching an advertisement. I lean against the door jam making an inventory of potential breakages and damage, during their unsupervised time.

I hear a nasal demand to 'buy whilst stocks last,' that two small people echo with perfection. My eyes drift to the screen; a handy dandy cleaning machine, that does not require parental or adult supervision during it's working cycle. I wait for a price but I'm distracted by the mantra circling the room, 'buy now while stocks last, buy now while stocks last, buy now while stocks last.' Each echo has a corresponding giggle. I am uncertain which bit is the funny bit?

It's enough to make me seriously consider nipping out to the shops to buy it there and then. Am I an advertisers dream or a challenged cleaner? I debate whether the shoe and sock nightmare is worth the effort, when the voice of doom cuts through my calculations, “you can't buy it, it will be too noisy, they'll never stand for it, you'll never be able to actually use it!” I look at my 9 year old daughter, the voice of sanity.

I grab a screwdriver and start poking the lock on the television door as junior starts up, “we go buy dah machine for dah cleaning?”
“No.”
“Why?”
“Er, it costs too many dollars,” I lie. He disappears and I hear a crash with an accompanying ‘oopsie.’ He reappears with something behind his back, a surprise no doubt. “Here you go!” he announces brandishing the dust-buster in my direction with a cheesy grin, “you can be using dis little noo noo instead.” Great problem solving, such consideration! “Der you go, now you can go and be playing upstairs wiv it where it won’t be hurting my ears.”


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A little chat

She exhales and runs her fingers through her hair with exasperation as my son scampers off after another brief exchange. The current campaign is to reinforce every attempt at verbalizing. [translation = amongst other campaigns] At this stage, I do not correct as often as I will in the future. [translation = if all goes according to plan] For the moment we want those words to keep coming and the main method to ensure this is to 'engage and exchange' on each and every occasion that they make an attempt. [translation = interruptions are permitted regardless of what conversation you might be interrupting] I apologise to my pal who has yet to complete a sentence of her own. [translation = boys are winning the race of 'how many words per half hour,' although they have the advantage, because there are two of them and only one of her] I apologise for administering to them and ignoring her. [translation = she won't come again]

“Oh I just don't know how you do it?” she sighs. I double check? Synapses snap and I connect.
“I have no choice at the moment. I don't do it to help them, I do it to save money!” [translation = Scottish genes]
“Oh don't joke!”
“No seriously. What's the point in paying a professional once a week if you don't practice the rest of the week? [Translation = the other 112 waking hours] I am merely protecting my investment of hard cash, making sure that it grows. [translation = preferably compound interest]

“You're such a dumbass sometimes!” [translation = twit] In the family room I hear the echo, 'yur such a dumbass, 'yur such a dumbass, 'yur such a dumbass.”
“@#$&*! Did they just hear me?”
“Yes.” [translation = sort of. In this case it's echolalia, when they repeat {like a tape recorder} what they have heard even though they were not listening and are often completely engaged in something else, like setting off a sound sensor or motion detector]
“Geez I'm sorry! How long is gonna take you to undo that one?” [translation = remove less desirable phrases from their repetoire]
“Don't know, it may have just passed through, they don't always stick.” [translation = some favourite phrases become stuck because they like them so much. They become little mantras that won't be dislodged. Often then disappear for no apparent reason and are replaced by a newer more preferred phrase]

We both turn towards the family room to hear “@#$&*!,@#$&*!,@#$&*!” [translation = bloody hell!]

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