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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Secretarial skills

The first secretaries were men because to be a secretary required a unique skill set best suited to the male of the species – detail orientated, thorough and a stiffly starched collar.

It is therefore with some trepidation that I attempt to assist the child that insists upon a writing style that he considers to be an accurate copy of how a robot would write, namely that each letter is formed on a underlying and invisible cube.

His industry in the morning is unfathomable to a bleary eyed parent. My only purpose is to pre-empt a meltdown of frustration that would wake the rest of the sleeping household.
“How you are spell ‘like’?” Instead of saying the letters verbally, I write them on my trusty wipe board.
“How you are spell ‘sumpfing?’” We continue in this mode, until he has a small paragraph. The brave fingers of the tactile defensive child, attempt to fold the paper. He whips his index finger away on completion to blow frantically on the tip, scorched. He turns it to me, to touch my numb lips so that I can gesture a kiss better.

“Where we are live?” I sing him our address to it’s familiar but irritating tune, softly because we are not supposed to "sing our vital statistics" any more. [link] By now his wrist and hand are beginning to tremour with the effort and strain involved. He fumbles with tape, careful to avoid the serrated edge. He exhales, a sigh of exhaustion, the satisfaction of ‘done.’ He spins off the chair and scampers upstairs on his tippy toes, to his bedroom. I follow.

I watch him insert his missive into the mailbox that he has made for his sister, close to the one that he has made for his brother.

I’d like to say that his timing is off. Now that he is less non-verbal, this would seem like overkill. This style of communication would have been infinitely more helpful a couple of years ago when words were a bit thin on the ground. In the future, he may be able to generalize such skills, but I doubt if his social skills will be up to the challenge of "office politics."

There again , maybe that’s part of the “corkscrew” effect, when skills become embedded, connect to each other and manifest themselves in triumphs of progress?

A rose by any other name…beware of train spotters

I run in from the garden covered with muck and compost, undermined by a "caffeine" shortfall. I operate at half speed, due to an "unusually slow" start to the day. I’m careful to hide the secateurs now that tools and cutting tools are no longer categorized as instruments of torture and death. I make a quick head count as the supervisor is otherwise occupied with the computer. My daughter lounges on the sofa with a how to draw book from the library, but she’s careful to note the page count on the school calendar so that she’ll be eligible for a prize in her class. It would appear that the ‘electronics’ cupboard has been pillaged. Both boys are ‘wired’ to their Gameboy and Ninendo games. I go to remonstrate with the supervisor, “how come you’re working at the weekend dear?”
“I’m not.” I wait for further details as his hands hover over the computer keyboard and his eyes are glued to the screen. Nothing is forthcoming. I prompt, “looks like work to me?” A pause.
“Oh! No I’m just er well…..” This is code for ‘you wouldn’t understand.’
“I’m listening. Explain it to me?”
“Well I’m reprogramming the train.”
“The train set in the garden?”
“Yes.” I wait as the screen lures his eyes back as he watches a programme download, the seconds ticking away.

“How is it going?”
“O.k. Still have a few faults to iron out.”
“How will the reprogramming affect it?”
“Oh, it will do lots of cool things!”
“Cool?” Such a dreadful meaningless word.
“Such as?”
“Well it will go forwards and then backwards and then forwards a little bit…….” he trails off, as do I.
“I think I’ll go and water the garden then in that case.”
He calls after me, “all your tulips standing to attention then, nice and straight!” I do refuse to acknowledge this statement.

Ursaphobia- Whatever next? Addendum

Here are a few more, in case we don't have enough to worry about already?

Achluophobia - Fear of darkness.

Aphenphosmphobia - Fear of being touched.

Bathmophobia - Fear of stairs or steep slopes.

Catagelophobia - Fear of being ridiculed.

Dystychiphobia - Fear of accidents.

Ephebiphobia - Fear of teenagers.

Gynophobia - Fear of women.

Iatrophobia - Fear of doctors.

Mageirocophobia - Fear of cooking.

Pteromerhanophobia - Fear of flying.

Scolionophobia - Fear of school.

Venustraphobia - Fear of beautiful women.

10 Common Phobias

  • The fear of spiders.
  • The fear of snakes.
  • The fear of heights.
  • The fear of situations in which escape is difficult.
  • The fear of dogs.
  • The fear of thunder and lightening.
  • The fear of injections.
  • The fear of social situations.
  • The fear of flying.
  • The fear of germs or dirt.
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    The Little Red Hen – spatial awareness issues

    There is frost on the rooftops but the temperatures are due to rise to the mid 70’s. The house creaks and groans, as wooden joists contract during the night and expand with the morning sunshine. House habits alter. The window that was a snug fit, [translation = stuck] now has a draught. The plugged gutter that overflowed like a waterfall, now has a nest. The door that scrapped, now rattles.

    I am even more twitchy than usual. [translation = grumpy] It is rare for an old person, such as myself, to have new experiences. There is only so much daily paranoia that I can deal with. Now I have to endure the surprise of a tooth, occasionally touching a tooth. As enamel contacts enamel, I feel as if I have been struck by a cattle prod. How do people live like this? My nerves jangle with the anticipation of the next tweak, as the elastic bands on my braces twang. Suddenly the option of dentures seems infinitely more attractive. I never thought that any of my teeth would ever touch each other. Now that they are on the cusp of meeting, I wish to revoke the invitation.

    I return to the task at hand. How exactly is one supposed to dress in such weather, or more importantly, how is a mother supposed to dress temperature sensitive children? Senior has decided that the solution to this particular problem is to wear his shorts in the middle of his legs. [translation = half mast] At his age and design, his arms and hands are just the right length to hold the waistband of his shorts, at the level of his groin. In this way, the top of the shorts meets the leg seam of his underwear and the bottom of the shorts nearly meet the top of his socks. Perfect!

    He has yet to connect this choice with his inability to walk very far without falling over. I swear that if I hear, ‘clunk’ / “oopsie!” one more time this morning, I shall go completely batty. He will go around all day with his hands clasped to his crotch and his batman underpants exposed at the back!

    Spouse rests a hand on my arm, “don’t worry, when the mercury rises, so will the shorts!” he beams. Clearly I have failed in the ‘neutral face’ department. My clenched teeth might be excused, but obviously the rest of my face has given me away. I blink because at 5:30 I read "Kevin's posting," on his site via "the autism hub," and the word ‘mercury’ blinds me temporarily.

    Of course! It weather will warm up and he’ll pull his trousers up.

    I am still guilt ridden from a bad decision at 5:45 a.m. Mother Nature hates me. Which to do? Give the obsessive compulsive perfectionist a sheet of pristine paper so that he can draw, or insist that he colour on the back of a used piece of paper, break down his resistance and get the regulation/modulation thing going?

    I am also miffed about his school book, 'Love you forever.' He sat on my lap at 6 in the morning to read. What did my hyperlexic son glean from this tender tale of parental love? That the periods [translation = full stops] were diamond shaped not round, ergo, he will never read it again as it is too painful on the eyes.

    I hear the ear splitting scream that indicates Junior has had a near death experience of the sensory kind. Spouse and I both move as one towards the sound of the rain dancer. As time has past we can both determine what sort of banshee wailing ails him.

    He is outside the ‘hated’ bathroom at a safe distance, arms flailing, legs engaged in the fastest type of Irish dancing on the planet.
    “Dah door! Dah door! Dah door!” he yells. His arm drops from the elbow, rigid like a train signal to help us understand that he means the ‘door,’ a helpful gesture that is not unappreciated. We adult people, his parents, both look at the door. This is a door that always swings back open, flush with the wall. It may be bad architecture, but it’s good for the children, as it prevents them from being accidentally imprisoned and ensures that an escape route is always available. The door is ajar, only slightly open. Otherwise, it appears perfectly normal. Spouse checks the other side because he is of a thorough disposition. He shakes his head towards me, silently, but his son doesn’t miss this non-verbal cue and utters another agonizing burst ‘Ahgggg!’

    No-one is fully dressed. It is a school day. All is not well. More words percolate out of him as his body becomes less frantic; “dah world is upside down or I am dah stoopid one!” Well that’s a great start, something to work on. Spouse raises his eye brows, an indication that his engineering brain is on the matter, trying to connect this particular door with junior’s statement. I wait for him to snap out the answer: Spouse, the one armed bandit! Crank the lever and wait for the read out. He has two pertinent facts to connect. Junior’s rain-dance subsides. He waits. His waiting permit expires.
    “I am a fay LEE Yur!” he wails, as his parents struggle to interpret his message and assist him.
    “Oooo I wonder?” mutters the father of the child.
    “What!” I snap through clenched teeth.
    “I was just wondering if this has to do with what we were talking about?”
    “What did you talk to him about?”
    “Er…..well, we were sort of talking about magnetism……”
    “Yes,” I prompt, in what I hope is an encouraging tone.
    Junior interrupts, although he appears to be having a conversation with himself: “I will be stuck on dah ceiling!”
    “I fear he may have extrapolated!”
    “Give me the basic facts,” I demand, as I mentally snap the strap.
    Junior interrupts, “I will be dah upside down one!”
    “So we got onto the subject of the world, gravitation pull, the solar system……just general stuff……..the way you do……” I resist the urge to beat him over the head and scream ‘spit it out man!’
    Junior interrupts, “I am boink my head! I will be owie!”
    “Well we only got through half of magnetic pole switching when we were interrupted, you know how the toilet vortex spirals in the opposite direction if you’re in Australia…..I think maybe I left him with a slight mis-understanding.”
    “You do huh!”
    Junior interrupts, “I don’t wanna be in dah Australia, I wanna be in San Jose, but not dah wrong way round!”
    “Well something important came up and we didn’t really finish our conversation.”
    Junior interrupts, “I want everyfink be dah same. No change gravity!”
    “So, to summarize, correct me if I’m wrong, you covered those subjects partially, and now, because the door is swinging in the wrong direction, he has made the mental leap that this is due to magnetic pole switching, therefore he is in the equivalent of Australia and somehow or other, he believes that gravity should go in reverse and he’s about to hit his head on the ceiling, his very super sensitive head? Am I right so far?”
    “In a nutshell, I think.”
    “Right then! Take your son, any visual cues and props that you need and put him straight!” [translation = correct the science, fill in the gaps, eliminate potential phobia emergence and get him dressed, preferably within the next six and a half minutes]

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