Whimsical investment

Parents of autistic children are vulnerable both to the hype of those who promote snake oil as a cure, as well as the demands of the children themselves. Some parents of autistic children have more money than sense, or certainly little sense, when it comes to money.

In their defense, parents of autistic children readily admit their shortcomings – encyclopedic knowledge of dinosaurs, [C +] time table details of Thomas and his rabble, [D-] plot graph of the powers of Pokemon, [E for effort] Yukio qualities, [F–] just let me die now! This is how parental bias sneaks into the equation.

I grind the sleepy sand out of my eyes as I shuffle around the kitchen in my black fluff muffs, willing the life blood to flow back to my toes that I can avoid gangrene and digit removal. A small, bouncy fast moving person comes into focus. “What it is?'
“What is what dear?”
“What is what be rhyme?”
“Er what word do you want to rhyme?”
“Chocolate.” I knew that! I really knew that, or I could have guessed it. I think. What rhymes with chocolate? Anything that ends with 'ate' with two syllables before it.
“Dat is not a word!” he bellows. Suddenly I am back in school and still failing.
“Dat is four! I am need two!”
“Well it’s not four syllables, that’s because your enunciation is ……..” I eliminate 'crap' and substitute 'in need of assistance.' “Chocolate has three syllables. Choc o late, just like Nonna says. It's not 'choc' 'late,' two syllables as Americans say, nor 'choc' 'lit' as Brits say. Both of them are wrong. Nonnna is write, I mean right. Nonna knows best.”

He pouts, doubtful but drawn by the inevitable truth of a superlative and peerless grandmother.

“Nonna say it be three?'
“She does.” I lie without thought, as Nonna and I have never discussed syllables in detail.
“What it is?”
“What is what?” Are we really still here?
“Ah well, ‘ambulate’ comes from the Latin, which means walk or movement forward and 'per' means before……. so you, push the 'thing' before you as you walk and the 'thing' is the pram which is…….like a pushchair….um…a stroller.” Beam me up now. I know not what I do or say and Latin is old and mold and I am being dumbfounded by a six year old!
“You are being dah dumbass!” I know! Don't you think I already know that? How come your tiny brain is so huge? Why do you care? Do not taunt me with your speech delay! What I wouldn't do with a mere fraction of your brain capacity!
“Where it is?” Please, please, please!
“Where is what dear?”
“Fing? Er thing? What thing?”
“Dah fing dat you said in dah perambulate?”
“Um?” He summarizes for me, so I can get back on track, pick up the thread and hang myself with it.
“You have dah 'per,' you have dah 'ambulate' but you have lost dah 'fing'” I have lost more than a thing dear. I decide that surrender is my best option, that or deflection, “hang on a minute, I have something to show you!”

I run off to the spare room to retrieve the Rhyming Dictionary that I bought as a present for a pal. I kept it because I discovered that she already had several vastly superior volumes. My paltry offering was an embarrassment. I dash back.

“Do you know what this is lovey?” He reads the title. He knows the first word but not the second. Is it a good idea for a child such as him, to become familiar with the second word? I hesitate. I am already out of my depth, maybe I am giving him the opportunity to drown me? Do I give him the Keys to the Kingdom or open Pandora's Box?

I glance at the clock, 6:03 a.m. It is far too early in the morning for me to be able to calculate the odds. I quickly run cons through my mind. He will be frustrated and overwhelmed. There will be a slew of negatives associated with failure. He'll kick it, rip it, chuck it or bite it. There will be snot and tears and meltdowns. We will start a new day under a big black thundercloud that will haunt us all day.

This perspective has to be balanced against the potential for……fun? It will not be fun, it will be a disaster, a disaster that I will have engineered myself. Take any 100 opportunities for fun and 99% of them are sure to induce misery due to faulty miscalculation by the parent.

I must acknowledge that I am habituated to the negative. No matter how many times I push the enveloppe it always results in a stamp. I need to get up at 5 so I can be awake at 6 and stop these knee jerk reactions. I need to function as an adult and make better calculated positive decisions. Spontaneity has died as I am too scared to deal with the fall out, I merely respond. I am the B actor. I wait for the star to initiate and follow my best guess. Even my best guess is usually several miles off from the true target.

He is nearly 7. How would the average 7 year old react? Is there an average 7 year old on the planet?

I err on the side of self help, keep the faith and begin to explain. His eyes widen. Hyperlexia is often the heightened ability to read words. It does not always carry the ability to understand them.

The print is tiny, but that could be the dusty bifocals. The average book that he's familiar with, is printed in font size 24, this on the other hand, is minute. I watch his sliver of filthy fingernail guide his eyes along the list, his feeble lip closure sounds out the syllables. “What it is?”
“What is what dear?”
“What be dah rhyme wiv 'gold'?” All my children shout out the usual offerings. Collectively we cover most of the bases.

“Let's check. Let's see what the dictionary says?” I cross reference and leaf through the delicate pages. I read them all out to him. He is especially taken with 'twofold, threefold, fourfold,' and their ilk, but I'm inclined to favour the release of the stranglehold and relinquish my toehold of control.

New post up on “alien.”

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Eureka! Pavlov's dog


I hear him shriek, grab a pristine bath towel and fly to the family room.

“Eureka! I've got diarrhea! Eureka! I've got diarrhea! Eureka! I've got diarrhea!”

His delivery of this message is in 'motor mouth,' robot mode. I dive onto the carpet next to him, a curled nak.ed prawn. I place the towel in position and seek further information.

“Does your tummy hurt lovey?”
“Eureka! I've got diarrhea! Eureka! I've got diarrhea! Eureka! I've got diarrhea!” I place a palm on his stomach and bring an ear closer to see if there's any gurgling.
“Coldie, coldie, coldie,” he squeaks.
I feel his forehead for a fever.
“Coldie, coldie, coldie,” he squalks. I think perhaps my hands are cold rather than he is hot, but maybe not? I run his diet through my inventory checker in case I have inadvertently poisoned him. This seems so unlikely as my little neophobe is still stuck on 17 foods. It is next to impossible to imagine that he might have added poison to his diet without me noticing. There again, if you only eat 17 things, perhaps number 18 would be poisonous whatever it was, just for sheer shock value of novelty?

“What it is?”
“What is what dear?” I nibble my lip.
“Er……dah 'Eureka'?”
“Um Eureka means…..sort of….. 'wow, look what I've discovered,' sort of a thing, or it's a place in Northern California, and probably elsewhere come to think of it.” I wonder where else it is, as a huge burp erupts from my son.
“Oopsie. Sorry my body.” Excellent instant response. Hallelujah!
“Ooo what good manners you have dear.”
“Eureka! I've got diarrhea! Eureka! I've got diarrhea! Eureka! I've got diarrhea!” his delivery is 'sing song' mode. I am uncertain if this is a good sign or a bad sign? Has delierum set in?

“What it is?”
“What is what dear?”
“Dah 'diarrhea'?”
“You mean you don't have diarrhea?”
“I don know?”
“What don't you know?” Somehow that didn't come out quite right.
“I don know if I am have dah diarrhea beCOZ I don know what dah diarrhea is being!”
“What do you think it is being….er……I mean….what do you think 'diarrhea' is?”

“I fink it is 3.”
“3? Do you mean three syllables?”
“Yes. 'Dye' 'a' 'rea'…..see….three!”
I now have 48 hours to remove this word from his lexicon before the start of school.
“It is dah perfect.”
“You think!” I have news for you matey! If you think you're going to go around repeating this you've got another thing coming!
“It is be my new song.” Not on your nelly!
“Maybe we can make a new song, a better son, the best song.” I wonder if he can detect the desperation in my voice.

“No fanks. It is dah perfect one. Dah 3, dah 3, dah 3.”

He's right of course, when you listen to the syllables of the whole sentence, it is a unique chorus, a refrain that I shall have to retrain.

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Co-ordination and balance or Treason!

[Pre – holiday in England]

We return from the garden centre. I am full of beans. [translation = ready to plant]

My son is wasted. [translation = American term meaning excessively tired, as opposed to the English, term meaning inebriated.] I took him with me as he doesn’t react quite as violently as his brother does to this kind of trip. Spouse cared for the other two.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am entirely delighted that my two severely speech delayed boys now talk, it’s just that the thought processes behind the production of those words, is still far too fast and complex for me to understand. More often than not, I tie myself up in knots. [translation = intractable ones]

My son collapses of the floor like the deflated balloon that he is, together with matching sound effects. [translation = shopping is exhausting for him]
“Whatcha got mom?” asks his sister with enthusiasm.
“Ooo I bought loads of lovely things just look!”
“Gee but you were only gone half an hour!”
“Really, it seems sooooooo much longer. [translation = ten minutes drive there, 3 minutes choosing, 7 minutes queuing, paying and packing, 10 minutes drive home] Anyway, now we have to decide what to put where? Want to help?”
“So you remember the vine that died on one side of the arbors because of the frost?”
“Well, should we replace it with this glossy Jackmanii, or this smouldering Stephanotis?”
Junior appears in the kitchen, “what you do! Plantings are in dah garden not in dah house! Dirty!”
“They'll be in the garden soon enough, we just have to decide which one to put where? Do you want to help?”
“NO! I am hating dah gardin and I am hating dah plants also.”
“Fair enough.” He hovers close by, brewing.
I reconnect with my daughter. “So what do you think?”
“I love that velvety purple, that will look lovely next to the other three white ones on the back fence.” I pause. Two arches. Three vines. Three white vines.
“Hmm, maybe we had better put the Stephanotis there then they'll all be white, and they'll all be scented which will be lovely when you're sitting there.”
Junior buts in, “what it is, 'assorted'?”
“Um, various, mixed, that sort of thing.”
“Why you are calling him Jack den?”
“Because that's what he….er, it is. It is a Clematis Jackmanii, it's Latin, named after the chappy that bred him, er…. it…..I think.”
“What rhyme it is?”
“Yes. What be rhyming wiv Jackmanii?”
“Jackmanii, Jack boy e i, Jill girl e i, e i e i o e i!”
“That'll do nicely, well done.”
“He is ancient?”
“Who, er who is ancient?”
“Well, he…it’s probably got a couple of years growth I suppose.”
“A couple is two!”
“Yes, that’s right, good boy.”
“Argh, NO!”
“You said he was ancient.”
“Did I?” As usual I have completely lost the thread of this conversation.
“Yes, you said he was Latins. Latins is ancient too, he cannot be only two.”
“Oh, yes, I see what you mean. Breeders give plants Latin names so that everyone in the world can understand them. It’s a common language. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, everyone……understands……Latin.” I peter to a halt anticipating an onslaught of additional questions that I am surely unable to answer. However, to my surprise, he seems completely satisfied with this response. I turn to my daughter again, who has waited patiently [again] throughout.
“So, shall we make a start? Find the fork?”
Junior has been cogitating for a few minutes.
“But he is not a Jack, he is a 'patio plant,'” he spits twanging the elastic of the label.
“He's a patio plant too. A plant can be more than one thing. Just like you! You're masculine, a scholar, a chanters, a lyricist, an American, a fleet of foot, a Brit, a feline friend, a chocolate connoisseur, a jester, lots of different things all at the same time, all rolled up into one little boy.” I stop my brief list. I wonder if he can translate all those terms. Should I have used simpler language? I wait for him to process. Why do I keep doing that? Using too many words?
“I not little,” he asserts after a brief pause.
“True, you’re quite big now.” I wait a bit longer….reminding myself of the discrepancy between his receptive and expressive language skills. [translation = understands what comes in but can’t necessarily come out with the right words]

“What it is ……'a Brit'?” [translation = oh no, tragedy!]

We will be in England in less than three weeks. Pass me the Globe!

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