Book Choice – reciprocal exchange we love you

“Tell you what!”
Horray! Months of speech therapy just to elicit this particular typical response.
“You pick the book and I'll read it to you for a change.”
“I am not being dah reader?”
“Just a thought.”
“Which book I am reading?”
“Doesn't matter. Anything you like.”
“You are not er….doing dah choosing?”
“Wot I choose?”
“You tell me?”
“Anyfink but dah diamond book?”
“Which 'diamond' book?”
“Dah one wiv all dah diamonds.”
“Which one is that?”
“Agh! I not say it.”
“Why won't you say it?”
“Coz den you will be remembering it and you will be making me be reading it again.”
“I don't make you read books!”
“Liar! Liar! Liar!”
I try and work out which nerve I've touched? But he relents and takes pity on me. “It's o.k. Your old lickle brain is not working good, but I have a brain of good remembering, because it is big.”
“You're right! Clever big brain. So what book do I make you read?”
“Agh! You are dah stoopid one! You are making me read dah books dat are coming home from school.”
“Oh. Yes, you're quite right, you do have to read those ones, but I don't remember one about diamonds?”
“I fink it shrink!”
“What is shrinking?”
“Your stoopid brain.”
Fell right into that one! He's probably right there too. In case you wonder why I don’t correct him, guide him to more appropriate responses, this is merely due to the fact that I am too happy wallowing in the ‘joy’ of experiencing ‘conversation.’ [translation = reciprocal exchange]
“O.k. I give up. Which one was the diamond one?”
“'I'll love you forever'! It had dah diamond periods! Remember!” he bellows, angry breath blasts my face.

Of course! How could I have forgotten? His book of the week from school, “I’ll love you forever,” had diamond shaped periods [translation = full stops] instead of the ordinary round black dots. How could I possibly expect the poor child to read such a nightmare of a book again. Publishers should take far more care with their punctuation, or more importantly, the shape of their punctuation, unless they wish to alienate a whole generation of potential readers.

And humble apologies to all those who favour different punctuation,spelling, font and colour schemes, all of which are beyond my technical control. [Translation = especially those annoying little cross bone tool icons in the side bar – enough to drive you…..

to an irritating place!]

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Many autistic children have difficulty interpreting someone's mood from the way their facial features arrange themselves, my boys are no exception to this general rule. Now that they can speak and use their words occasionally they will ask a pertinent question such 'are you mad?' [translation = angry] Curiously this isn't generally because I am wearing an angry face. [translation = perish the thought that my cheerleader face might slip]

No, it's much more important than that. I think it's because they either recognize that they have transgressed [translation = made a less than perfect choice] and or that they have concerns as to how I, their mother, might feel about that behaviour. [translation = rats to the theory of mind] [ref – see previous post]

I know that there are a great many children who have similar difficulties without the label that my children have. You'll see them on the playground at recess. Some poor benighted child takes a tumble and another child laughs. The child who laughs isn't necessarily playing with the one that falls down. He may be entirely unconnected with the other group at play, he just notices the fall. He has a visceral reaction what he observes but his synapses direction him to the wrong response because his 'pity/concern' category is either misfiled or under developed. The reaction most readily retrievable is the 'laugh' response.

You doubt me? I do too. But if you examine your own behaviour, very occasionally someone will tell you something and all you can come up with is 'the nervous laugh.' [translation = except Brits who are never nervous and always have the stiff upper lips firmly in place] It's the same underlying principal for us all. We know we ought to react, not quite sure how, and we leak a giggle instead. [translation = with the exception of Brits who refuse to react to anything without prior permission in triplicate]

He practices his facial expressions in front of the mirror. It's o.k. if I observe this child, the littlest one, as he doesn't have strong feelings about me watching him occasionally. It's the other one that explodes with outrage if he catches me watching him. [translation = it must feel like spying whilst you're experimenting with something new, in private, until you are comfortable enough to permit a public audience] For a long time senior son refused to look at photographs of people's faces, it was one of the many triggers for a major meltdown, along with teddy bears amongst other things. If you are a child then it is quite remarkable for an adult to realize just how many teddy bears there are in a child's life, but you learn this very rapidly as your child identifies every single one of them, wherever you happen to come across them, and demonstrates that he has correctly managed to find even the most obscure ones, by melting down in a catastrophic tantrum.

This kind of behaviour makes even the simplest of task outside your own teddy bear free zone house, a game of chance. [translation = a crap shoot / shute?]
It might seem a little grim, but it was a vast improvement on the period just prior to that, when the word 'teddy' wasn't in his non-verbal filing system. Curiously, Pachycephalosaurs and all his relatives, were neatly catalogued for easy and frequent use. I can tell you with confidence that in everyday life, you are likely to come across at least 100 teddies for every one non specific dinosaur, it's a statistical fact. [translation = do not challenge me, I know I am right from evidence I the field]

I attempt reinforcement with junior and his mirror, “that's a very happy face you have there!”
“It's not a happy face, it's a straight line, see!” I look. His mouth is straight, a tight line but his eyes are cartoons of surprise. “Perhaps you are surprised?”
“No, I try surprise. That's too difficult for me.”
“So what face do you have now?”
“I don know. A happy face with a straight line mouth.” I watch him part his lips, reveal his teeth as if to check for lipstick, then purse them closed again. He snaps them open and shut again, watching the effect.
Another curious aspect of this discomfort with images of the human face, is that mirrors, [translation = not that we have many of them] were avoided. Senior son would try and cover them up, obscure them, so that he wouldn't accidentally catch a glimpse of himself. The shock of seeing himself unexpectedly always produced a meltdown. Translation = an assault of surprise] In the summer when panes of glass shifted their aspect in the sun, they too became substitute mirrors, but it took me a long time to work out his sudden aversion to doors and windows.

Junior lets his chin drop to his chest, despondent, “I never get it right!” he sighs. If I knew what he was attempting to mimic, I might be able to help him. Hopefully whatever emotion he is trying to convey, won't require me to role play 'smiling,' because if I smile and reveal my braces, this might be detrimental to his comprehension. [translation = negative reinforcement]

His older brother has made a lot of progress in the last three and a half years. The innocuous smiley faces that he encounters daily are no longer abhorrent. He advanced to cartoon faces over a year ago, but only if they were line drawings, black and white. We pushed him forward to accept colour versions, and gradually, minutely, stepped into the world of photographic faces. It's not something that he enjoys but the main purpose would to prevent the heart failure he experienced, whenever such an image jumped out and accosted him. Mirrors are no longer an object of fear, he can tolerate their existence, can choose not to look into them rather than expressing his displeasure in a sociably unacceptable manner.

I turn my attention back to junior as his manipulates his bottom jaw with the assistance of his hands, as he doesn't have a great deal of muscle strength in that area.
“What are you trying to do dear?”
“I happy? I sad? I mad? I surprised? What I am?” Seems more like curiousity than anything else to me.
“I think you're happy. Are you practicing a happy face?”
“No. I practice my face. It is the lips or the chin that makes the smile?” A reasonable enquiry under the circumstances, but I hope that he doesn't delve too much further, as I haven't passed human anatomy 101.
“It's the lips dear?” He pouts, purses and preens, testing out the hypothesis.
“You know?….. it not dah lips, it's dah muscles that are moving the lips underneaf dah skin.”

Ah! I stand corrected, as usual.

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One of the many stumpers with autistic children, can be their tendency to take whatever is said or written, literally. It's only when you have a couple of autistic children in tow that you begin to realize just how many idioms we use in every day life. For me, this has only recently presented itself as a problem [translation = challenge] due to their speech delays. Before, I was lucky to have any response to anything spoken, now I am paralyzed into unraveling any number of common phrases instantaneously.

“I've been on my feet all day,” becomes a bone of contention – oops there's another one.
• “On your feet? You are on your feet? You can do hand stands instead?” Always so helpful!

• “Why don't you just put your feet up and rest for a while?”
“Up? Up? Put feet up where? The ceiling it is too high! I am da little guy.”

• “I'll be with you in just a minute.” O.k. there's no point in going into the time travel aspects of children's lives as they all suffer from that one.

• “No it's not a back pack because I wear it on my front.” That way it doesn't bump you and it's easier to get access to the contents, especially if zips are a challenge.

• “Just scrub your fingernails with a brush before dinner.”
“Why it finger 'nail?' Why nail? It is not a nail, it is soft and thin. Why brush? Brush is for hair, brush is for teef.” It makes you try to double check everything you say before you say it, but even then, more often than not you still get it wrong.

• “How many times do I have to tell you!”
“Tell me three times. Three is my favourite number.”

• “I'm not sick and tired of his singing because I'm not, not sick, but I am tired of his singing but not sick.”

• “I going to keep my eye on you.”
“Agh! I don't want it, keep it in your head, don't touch me wiv it.”

• “Of course you don't have to, just bare it in mind.”
“Bear! Bear? There is a bear in my head?”

The simplest of statements becomes a mine field; “not twelve eggs, half a dozen will do.”
“Which box is da doz? Why we no have da Baker’s dozen. Baker’s are my uvver favourite because 13 is having a 3 also!”

Am I complaining? Why would I complain? Three years ago I had two children who were diagnosed as non-verbal, amongst other things, now I have a couple of brain teasers to keep me on my toes. [translation = or should that be 'to keep me guessing?]

From a long time ago

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