Shucks darnit!

Autism with speech delay can be a source of great frustration and annoyance, primarily for the speaker.

So many words are difficult to pronounce that an approximation becomes the norm until musculature matures with practice and time. If it wasn’t already annoying enough to deal with such daily challenges, every so often someone arbitrarily changes the rules. For instance, there is one particular word, one of many, that causes no end of angst, namely ‘evening.’ We know what evening means. We have a vague notion about when it occurs but it is virtually impossible to pronounce. We have learned to accept that for the time being ‘ eve nin,’ is more than good enough.

But once a year during the month of December, some foolish people refer to a particular reference point, namely ‘Christmas Eve.’ ‘Christmas’ we get, but ‘eve,’ although easier to say, is a shackle, one that causes no end of frustration. It falls into a category of many other words, words that are more than two syllables and familiar. If you are used to saying ‘Massachusetts’ with ease and flair, it is very difficult to stop yourself from pronouncing the last syllable, as suddenly the last syllable is surplus to requirements. You should try it some time if you doubt me, Massachu hold your ‘setts,’ Mississip and hold the ‘pi,’ the Marquis of Queensbur and hold the ‘y.’ It’s so grossly unfair. For some reason our brains and tongues refuse to stop, as the last sound is irresistible. Hence we experience a great deal of pain with the word ‘eve’ which keeps running into ‘eve nin’ or pops out as ‘eva’ when the brakes are rammed on really hard.

For current purposes we shall gloss over the competing issue, the time bomb, that declares that a whole day cannot be an ‘eve.’

As Christmas Eve approaches, I think it would be aesthetically pleasing to lie. To explain that my darling son came to me on that precious night, as the candles flicker in the warmth of twilight, to articulate the word ‘eve’ into my shell like ear, a gift like none other and we all lived happily ever after…….or some such nonsense. The truth however, is far less neat and tidy. This time next year, or maybe the year after, I’m confident that he will continue to grow and these difficulties will lessen, but for the time being we are left with the current exchange rate, daily, that goes a bit like this:-

“Ooo I am love!”
“Yes I know you love Christmas dear.”
“When is Eva…..? Shucks darnit!”
“Lets look at the chart together and you can tick off another day.”

Quite soon Eva will be gone from his repetoire. I think I almost miss her already.


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Adam and Eve – knowledge begets bounce


I put down my book by Ruth Rendell to think. [“Adam and Eve” and Pinch Me] I contemplate the many ways I have unwittingly tortured my children since babyhood.

All those supposedly innocent little ditties, nursery rhymes and games. We all know them, “round and round the garden,” “pinch punch, 1st of the month,” “the incy winsy” spider,'…….an endless list. Each and every one of them, has it's own unique twist of a flick knife, but I didn't know that at the time. Anyone with more than one brain cell would have cottoned on [translation = realized] that although I tried to engage my children, what I was really doing was beating them with a very large, noisy, prickly stick.

I decided that the 'oldies' might not be 'goldies.' I even went as far as to purchase a new book on 101 ways to entertain your baby, in the hope that I could improve my skill set and become a little more up to date. As with most things I tried in those days, it was another unmitigated failure. It seemed that there was nothing I could do to induce a smile. Their happiness quotient was independent of my input. Indeed it would be more accurate to say that most of their misery was caused directly by me, no matter how innocently. [translation = ignorantly] It seemed impossible to teach a “primigravidae” [translation = old first time mum] new tricks. [note 1 below]

But of course, that was a long time ago now. I re-evaluate the ditty – Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, went down to the river to bathe. Adam and Eve were drowned. Who do you think was saved? And the response is……altogether now….. 'pinch me!' Then you pinch them and everybody laughs, or most people do, especially little people.

As with most things, what was true a week or two ago, [translation = or month, or year] is not necessarily true now. I wonder if it's worth having another go? What is the likelihood of meltdowns? How many people will have meltdowns? Will they be really, really bad meltdowns, simultaneous ones? Maybe I'll be really lucky and they'll just ignore me, or not get it, or be indifferent? I strategize timing factors, variables such as their current mood, their absorption in their activities, as I don't want my 'intervention' to become an interruption or present itself as a transition. [translation = stop one thing and start another]

I dither a wee while until the moment presents itself. They are at the table for dinner. I have read several picture books to entertain them and distract them from the hideousness that is dinner. They are mellow. [ish] I tentatively suggest a change of tactic, a minor diversion from story telling, a little joke, a tiny one, just for their delectation. There is a fluttering of apprehension, dissent, minor protestations followed by resignations. I capture three pairs of eyes and sputter my way through the lines. I smile. I wait a response. I count. I include ‘ands.’ Brains in small craniums process words, retrieve others, connect the dots. I can hear them whir, the brains that is to say ….…….

“PERwinch me!” spews junior spraying us all with half masticated wieners as he guffaws.
“Ah!” bellows senior, throwing himself back on his chair to collide with the dresser, hurling sweetcorn kernels in a shower of amusement.
“Huh?!” frowns my daughter……

I pinch her, gently, just because I can.

[note 1] Although I already had a daughter, as far as the medical profession was concerned it was so long ago that my body believed it was the first time I was pregnant. Like a virgin all over again!]

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