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Saturday, November 11, 2006


[From a couple of years back]
My incoherent speech delayed youngest son howls at me. His words, if they are words, are so distorted that I can’t make out their meaning? He’s at full volume, [translation = level 10, where level 1 would constitute a whisper] due to inferior milk temperatures. I make a mental note to summarily dismiss the cook. ABA save me! [translation = not the American Bar Association, Bankers, Basketball, Booksellers nor Birding.]

I hear the dulcet Irish tones of ABA guru [translation = Applied Behavioral Analysis chappie ] float over me; “and what is the functionality of the particular behavior exhibited?” Haven’t the foggiest notion [translation = clue] right now, unless it’s to drive me completely batty, in which case, he is exceeding expectations. “We need to figure out the function of the behavior. Is it for attention or a tangible outcome, is he avoiding or escaping something, has this become a ritual (self stim behavior)?” This kind of language to the parent of the newly diagnosed!

Probably, all of the above at this stage, but who knows? Certainly not me, especially when the noise level is high enough to make the few brain cells I have left fuse together. What is the cure for autism? All I can think of is ear plugs or protectors, but I think his need is as great as mine. When he was born in the hospital, the nurse said he was the loudest she’d ever heard. I thought she was joking. They should never have let me leave the maternity ward without ear muffs at the very least. Expelled and ejected from the hospital in a wheel chair, swaddled baby, ear muffs and 96 degree heat.

“I am having a bad day!” he manages to bellow. Horray! Coherent speech. You and me both, matey. [translation = guy] It is at moments like this i.e. frequently, that I want a time machine to whiz me back a couple of decades so that I can change careers to something more useful. There again, I’ve already been fired from my post as cook.
I reach over for his 5 point scale, [see Ref 1] and rub his back with my other hand until I can persuade him to glance at me. He obliges me with a quick flit of the pupils to see it in my hand. I point to the five, the red square which indicates to him that I know that he’s in the middle of an explosion. This is to help him recognize that what he is currently experiencing, is a five, that this is what it feels like to be exploding. [translation = bio feedback something or other – see Ref 1 Psychobabble]

I use no words, and neither does he. This is more effective. Speech can be a dreadful impediment to effective communication. After a few more minutes, the noise dissipates as I rub his back. I point to the four, orange, as he gradually comes down the scale. As he sits up from the floor the noise actually stops. He points to the three, yellow. I encourage him to take deep tummy breaths which he co-operates with. [translation = stomach breathing for alternative types] I flip my finger between two and three, as I’m not sure where he is? He helps me by pointing to the 2, blue. I tell him that we’re going to clean him up now, and fetch a tepid wet flannel, [translation = wash cloth] to wipe his face. We avoid the tricky areas of nose blowing, as well as eye dabbing, to ensure that we don’t inadvertently provoke an additional meltdown. I have learned that anything that might loosely be described as a ‘cavity’ on this child, is a ‘no go’ area. But that’s because Brits are ‘medically challenged.’

We spend an additional seven minutes tinkering with the milk temperature, if not calmly, at least without the screams. Eventually, I get it right. He sucks his hot [translation = 1 minute and 7 seconds in the microwave] chocolate milk through a straw. His delicate little mouth shuns the texture of the lip of a cup. It also has the fringe benefit of free therapy, by practicing his lip closure. His fingers avoid contact with the cup and the straw. Hands free beverage consumption. Now there’s a skill I didn’t know existed? One tentative and brave digit, reaches out to brush the 1, green. Hallelujah!

Ref 1 I am unsure if it’s acceptable to mention the ‘Incredible Five Point Scale’ or whether that constitutes ‘flagrant advertising’ resulting in carnage to the blogging system? [translation = please advise?]
Ref 2 Psychobabble – phrases and terminology used effortlessly and accurately by all American persons from birth onwards, but the rest of the world finds
A] incomprehensible
B] laughable
C] tunes out
D] any / all / none of the above

I apologise for any stray 'u's that I may have missed. Ignore the zeds.

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