Partners in Crime

BW Joint Attention

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diction bw

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The People Priority–game theory


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Joined at the hip

Slurping Life
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We bimble home from school with our pal, a mutual pal of both my boys. This is one of the great advantages of combined grades of some special education classes, the overlap of friendships and oodles of common ground amongst different age groups and abilities. They all grow older, better able to articulate their preferences, which run the gamut. A combination of sweet innocence and advanced sophistication.

My sons sit either side of their pal, three in a line. They both mimic their pal’s distinctive voice, intonation, emphasis and terminology, with perfection. The phrase ‘oh my god’ has recently slipped into his vocabulary, as it does with so many children. Whilst we also had this for a while too, careful actions by school and home alike, has caused extinction. I would prefer it not to return. They paw over the book and discuss favourites, their first favourite, their second favourite ad infinitum. Amused, delighted and engaged during the journey. My daughter points out the snow on the mountains. My daughter points out the child with a bunny ear head band. My daughter points out the skate boarder pulled by a dog. There is no end to the list of entertainment outside the car but the boys concentrate upon their indoor choice, as three pairs of feet kick to the same rhythm.
“Oh my god. That Coral snake bit off her finger.”
“Oh my goodness!” I squawk from the driver’s seat.
“Oh my god. That Asian cobra bit his arm.”
“Oh my goodness!” I repeat in the hope of penetration as my driving concentration dwindles. With each remark my boys howl with laughter.
“Look over there guys! D’ya see that kid has a heart balloon,” offers my daughter in a loud and enthusiastic tone.
No-one else looks. I give her a quick beam.
“Oh my god! That Fierce snake bit his finger.”
“Oh my goodness!” I need to think of another strategy. This is pointless but at least the car remains in the correct lane.
“Hey guys! Look over there! It’s an aeroplane with a message banner.” She’s relentless in her attempts to distract whilst I concentrate on the road.
“Maybe you could be a teacher or a therapist when you’re older dear?”
“No way mom! I’m gonna be a dog walker.”
“I spose we can’t make em stop kickin either,” she adds wanely.
“At least they’re all happy as clams.”
“Oh my god! That Reticulated Python bit his face.”
“Oh my goodness!”
“I can’t quite make it out…….it’s too far away…..can you drive a bit faster mom so I can try and read it?”
“Oh my god! That Massassauga snake bit his horse.”
“Oh my goodness! Too much traffic dear and I think it’s going the wrong way.”
“Oh my god! That Asian Pit viper bit her wrist.”
“Oh my goodness! You certainly know your body parts young man.”
“Hey guys. Look over there. That guy’s sellin roses. Hundred of em.”
“Oh my god. That Bushmaster bit that girl.”
“Oh my goodness! How can you tell it’s a girl?”
“Coz…………. of the sexy legs.”
My daughter and I lock eye balls before she splutters, “he sure told you!”

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Slurping Life

Opinions differ but there is a common misconception that autistic people do not enjoy a sense of humour, or alternatively that their sense of humour is hybrid. Personally, I think it’s a little more complicated than that. Slapstick is easy. Words and their nuances can be a little more tricky.






They might not be the words I would have chosen but I certainly recognize the feeling of debilitating exhaustion, well spent.
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If at first you don't succeed


If there is one thing we have in common as parents, it's the repetitive nature of the job.

The phase 'I've said it a thousand times' could be our collective motto, but does anyone ever take any notice?

There are so many little phrases that we repeat on a daily or sometimes hourly basis. Since mine can read I'm tempted to tattoo them on my forehead, but since there are so many. Maybe I should write a long, numbered list and fold it up concertina style, tape it to the same spot so I can just let it unfold and shout 'three!'

Wednesdays are always the worst days. Although the children finish school early, this provides the opportunity for double therapy, one session of speech therapy and one session of occupational therapy for both of them, with the accompanying transitions. Hence, a couple of years ago, I adopted the line of least resistance and designated that Wednesdays would be pizza night. A shop bought pizza makes for an easy, quick and popular supper to be squeezed into the busy day after homework.

Whilst I pretend to 'cook' the children enjoy their thirty minutes of electronics time, but it only takes a few minutes to shove a pizza in the oven and throw cutlery on the table for no-one to use. Why is everything finger food? Instead, I spend a few minutes deliberating.

I have several completed bowls, thrown on the pottery wheel by my own, not so fair hands. One will be a wedding gift to my brother and his soon to be wife. I have whittled down the choice of pottery bowls to five. I'm out of options and choice time has arrived. I slip the five bowls onto the table, each with their different faults. One has a tiny crack but is otherwise perfect. This would be my first choice, but the crack glares at me like a cravass. The next one is also perfect. It has no crack. Instead it is the wrong colour. That shade of green is ever so slightly offensive, slightly bilious. The third one is perfect. It is the right colour and the fish decoration is even, but the bowl is not circular, it has warped in the kiln such that it is elliptical. The fourth one is perfect, but the base or foot is rough. The roughness cannot be eliminated at this stage. This means that their gift will scratch the surface of anything that they place it on, assuming that they don't hide it at the back of some obscure cupboard. The fifth one is perfect. The fish swim, sweep left in a swirl of a school but they are a little larger than I would wish. The colour is thin and a little bald on the rim. I dither about a marking system, but it would be too complex to design. Which is worse a wonky bald rim or a round bowl that isn't?

My daughter saunters up to the table, “whatcha doin Mom?”
“Hmm. I'm trying to decide which one to give to JP and Andrew for their wedding?”
“Oh you gotta give them that one!” she announces without a waver.
“Why that one?”
“Coz it's the biggest and there's two of em. It's big enough for them both to eat their cereal outta.” I blink. I had salad in mind rather than cereal. The word 'cereal' penetrates someone else's focus, which pings them into the arena. “You are have cereal in dat?” he asks. We explain the current state of deliberations. “Oooh, I am likey dat one?”
“Why dear?”
“Coz it is shaped like dah egg.” Well, of course I should have seen that one coming. I would prefer not to have the biased opinions of my offspring all of a sudden, as it really isn't helping. The word 'egg' triggers the last one to blunder into the debate. “You are have eggs?” We explain the tortured current status of the bowl debate. He drapes his upper body on the table top, no so much as for a better view, but more from the exhaustion of having to come up with a well argued opinion. We wait. I prompt.
“Well? What do you think then?”
“Um I fink……I fink………I fink…….dat one.”
“Why that one dear?”
“Coz it is dah bestest Vermillion.” Well that's a different version on 'bilious green' I suppose, but 'green' is never a word that he can retrieve. Their father appears, not drawn by the bowl debate but lured by the wafts of pizza smell. “What's up?” he asks distractedly peering into the oven willing it to speed up. My daughter gets him up to speed. He peers at the table top, “well not that one for sure.”
“Which one?”
“The one with the fish going the wrong way.”
“Which one is the one with the fish going the wrong way?”
“There! Anticlockwise indeed, that'll drive them nuts. It's not like they live in Australia or anything.” I pout. Of all the unreasonable objections, that's about the most ludicrous to date.
“Anyway, why are you picking now?”
“Because anything that isn't glazed now, or rather by the 30th of November, isn't going to be ready by Christmas. There was a notice from the studio warning everyone to get their stuff finished.”
“SO, I'm out of time. It's this or nothing.”
“But it's only November 28, you've got a couple more days.”
“Yes, but I just wanted to get something finished, done, one less thing to worry about.”
“O.k. If you're sure, but the more you practice, the more you do, the better they'll be.”
“You don't think any of them are good enough?”
“I didn't say that. It's up to you. There's no harm in trying again surely?”
“Mummy is da try, try, try agin?”
“Yeah. Have another go mom.”
“Da try agin is good.” My self satisfied, smug husband grins at me. “What do you have to lose, you don't eat pizza anyway! Go out to the garage and fling some clay around?” I look at all the expectant faces that taunt and goad. How can I continue the 'good enough' campaign in the face of such united front?

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Engineering perfection

Two of my four children to not like the 'great outdoors.' [translation = my autistic boys] In order to overcome, or at least ameliorate this obstacle, we have been working on a campaign to desensitize them. [translation = since each was able to walk]

Timing is crucial, but that aside there are many other temptations available to the wily parent. [translation = deviant] I select my lures with great care, ensure that everyone has protective clothing on, [translation = sunglasses, baseball caps, clothing to the wrist and ankle] add preferred snacks in a shady corner and I'm just about ready.

I run through my check list. What might I have either forgotten or overlooked? Nothing. Perfection has been achieved. [translation = everything is in my favour] I gather the troops and advice of forthcoming proceedings. Two faces scowl back at me. [translation = it's still a transition and we hate transitions] My daughter skips out into the garden and calls to her brother's with glee. [translation = an added bonus] “Hey, come and look at THIS guys! It's awesome!” The boys step out in the garden with caution, I lag behind a second or two to grab a couple of extra, extra towels for security. I hear them through the open window.

“ooo, what is it being?”
“I fink dey are dancing!”
“Squirming more like!”
“No, no, no, dey are makin dah babies! Look dere bodies, dey are wriggling, wriggling, wriggling!”

I dash out into the garden, tripping over towels, to see all three of them in the glaring sunshine, not in the shade. Not in the carefully designed spot that I have been perseverating upon all day.

They peer into the open bag of Bonemeal, that I accidentally left out in the garden a couple of days ago during my latest planting spree. I take a step towards them, gingerly.

“ooo, looky, looky, looky! Dey are all whitey!”
“No, no, no! Dey are not white dey are creamy translucent.”
“They're pretty slimey!” [translation = reciprocal speech is when you respond appropriately and on topic in response to what someone else has said rather than going off on a tangent of your own e.g. Pokemon are winners]

I take another step closer, jam my sunglasses onto my nose and take a deep breath. I peer, with half closed eyes at the contents of the bag. I can hardly bear to look. I know I should have put it back in the garage. I should have been more careful watering. I should have closed the bag, sealed the bag, put the bag in another plastic bag to avoid sogginess. I can feel my stomach heave.

“I'm gonna be calling mine 'Jiggle' and I'm gonna be writing his name wiv curly wurly 'G's.”
“I'm gonna… him…….trans, trans, trans,….George cos he's a very curious one.”
“They're too many to give them all names guys!”

I watch the surface of the bag ripple. What is the conversion rate of one 10 pound bag of organic Bonemeal to wildlife?

“ooo, I love dah little guys!” he guffaws with laughter and slaps his knees.
“I fink we could, we should, we might … putting dem in the bo, box, er……aquarium so dat dey can be our new pets!”
“That's a great idea! Good job! I hope Rascal and Unis like em too! I hope they won't eat em like the lizards. Perhaps we ought to put a top on this time. What do you think Mom?” she looks at me expectantly.

If they think I'm going to have a tank full of maggots on the dining room table, then think “again.”

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Tie yourself up in knots

We concentrate on homework, at least I concentrate on their homework, but they appear to be singularly distracted. Whislt children sit at the table not doing homework, two cats hurtle around the house chasing each other's tails as well as their own. I drag his attention back to the number of horses in the math problem, or more particularly the number of legs that they collectively own. It is a poorly designed question leading us up blind alleys regarding animal welfare.
“Why they are gallop? Er no, er canter or maybe it is trot?” His fingers tap on the box of snack bars, a visual reminder of the reward to come.
“Why is who, er what dear?”
“Dey! Dey! Why dey are do dat?” His fingers tear at the corner of the box as this child is not averse to the texture of paper.
“Who is doing what dear?”
“Dah cats?” He continues to tap, twiddle and tear, whilst his legs swing and pump under the table.
“Oh! Why are they all crazy dashing about the place?”
“Yes, why dey are dash?”
“Spring fever I suspect.” Giggles and wriggles are contagious.
“No. Spring is on March 21. Today we are March 12.” I examine his face for a hint of humor or sarcasm. None. The fig bars fall out of the box and his hands are all over them.
“You're right dear! But they certainly are very frisky for this time of the day.” They are all infected with fidgets.
“You're right! Dat is because day are nocturnal.” I check again. His face is dead pan. Soon those fig bars will be crumbs.
“You're right dear! They are generally nocturnal. Now, back to the question. How many legs to the horses have?”
“Horses, dey are not nocturnal.” His body is revving up, a pile of wriggling worms, something is on it's way.
“You're right dear. Now. Horses. Legs. How many?”
“My homework is finished?”
“Nope, not yet. Here, I'll give you a clue, it's an even number because each horse has four legs.”

“Hey! I know! Dis horse walked into a bar,” he explodes with uproarious laughter and tumbles off his chair, as do the other two. I peek under the table, lifting the cloth. Three children roll on the floor together beneath their unfinished homework. So much for neural pathways. “Autism Schmatism,” I'm with Granny on this one.

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Numb, from the neck up?

I park him the throne to do the business. I leave him there on the toilet unsupervised contemplating his knee caps and scabs to return to domestic chores back in the kitchen. The other two lie on the carpet surrounded by enough Pokemon to take over the world. I run my hands over my face, to check how many nerve endings I will enjoy today after jaw surgery? I appear to still be numb from below the bifocals, but my furrowed brow is fully functioning.

Some time later, amidst truck loads of laundry, I realize that I am still a child short. The 'thought' chimes with his appearance in the kitchen together with his excuse, “I didn't pick it! It was an accident!” I look at him, his leg, drenched in blood and the trail of bloody footsteps in his wake. As I wipe him down I glare at his father, the idiot who chose the cream coloured carpet.

The flow of blood from the gaping hole in his knee, where the huge scab once was, is unstoppable. He didn't cry or notice when he hurt himself in the first instance, nor does he now. It is merely a minor inconvenience in his day. The child is a walking disaster zone, immune to pain. Does he have any nerve endings at all? Rarely have I ever witnessed such a chaotic wiring system.

I hand over the responsibility of Band Aid application to his father and stomp off for carpet triage. All carpets should be sludge coloured, patterned, with texture to forestall the inevitable. I set to work, scrubbing arm all ready for a dose of tennis elbow, or maybe housemaid's knee. I scrub rhythmically until I notice a tingling sensation in my forearm. I sit back on my heels to evaluate the damage. Difficult to tell at this stage, I will have to wait for it to dry.

“I'm going for a shower now!” I bellow to the chooser of carpets, a warning of impending thunder and a command to supervise small people; pre-empt leakage from anyone. Once the water starts to flow over me, I cheer up considerably. No-one hurt. No real harm done. Time for some mummy therapy. I grab the buff puff, for my version of 'beauty' maintenance. I blow out my cheeks like a puffer fish so that there is no risk of impaling myself on my braces and scrub away. I'm sure that exfoliation will reveal a youthful complexion underneath the Rhino hide. Two minutes with the tooth brush and I'm ready to emerge, cleansed, renewed and refreshed.

I bounce down the stairs pulling on a T-shirt. I bounce John Wayne style to avoid tripping over a couple of cats, determined to attach themselves to my ankles. My family are in the family room, parked in front of the telly for Saturday morning cartoons, mesmerized. I park myself in front of the screen to ask, “So what are we going to do today then?” Four people lift their hands to their faces, a rare incident of joint attention:
“What happened?”
“What you did?”
“Why, why, why you are er,………. what she said?”

The 'chooser of carpets' guides me to the loo, where there is a mirror,
“so is red still your favourite colour?
Looks like a serious case of road rash to me!”

Or maybe I'm just shamed face
with a little carpet burn.

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