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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A little chat

She exhales and runs her fingers through her hair with exasperation as my son scampers off after another brief exchange. The current campaign is to reinforce every attempt at verbalizing. [translation = amongst other campaigns] At this stage, I do not correct as often as I will in the future. [translation = if all goes according to plan] For the moment we want those words to keep coming and the main method to ensure this is to ‘engage and exchange’ on each and every occasion that they make an attempt. [translation = interruptions are permitted regardless of what conversation you might be interrupting] I apologise to my pal who has yet to complete a sentence of her own. [translation = boys are winning the race of ‘how many words per half hour,’ although they have the advantage, because there are two of them and only one of her] I apologise for administering to them and ignoring her. [translation = she won’t come again]

“Oh I just don’t know how you do it?” she sighs. I double check? Synapses snap and I connect.
“I have no choice at the moment. I don’t do it to help them, I do it to save money!” [translation = Scottish genes]
“Oh don’t joke!”
“No seriously. What’s the point in paying a professional once a week if you don’t practice the rest of the week? [Translation = the other 112 waking hours] I am merely protecting my investment of hard cash, making sure that it grows. [translation = preferably compound interest]

“You’re such a dumbass sometimes!” [translation = twit] In the family room I hear the echo, ‘yur such a dumbass, ‘yur such a dumbass, ‘yur such a dumbass.”
“@#$&*! Did they just hear me?”
“Yes.” [translation = sort of. In this case it’s echolalia, when they repeat {like a tape recorder} what they have heard even though they were not listening and are often completely engaged in something else, like setting off a sound sensor or motion detector]
“Geez I’m sorry! How long is gonna take you to undo that one?” [translation = remove less desirable phrases from their repetoire]
“Don’t know, it may have just passed through, they don’t always stick.” [translation = some favourite phrases become stuck because they like them so much. They become little mantras that won’t be dislodged. Often then disappear for no apparent reason and are replaced by a newer more preferred phrase]

We both turn towards the family room to hear “@#$&*!,@#$&*!,@#$&*!” [translation = bloody hell!]

Translation and interpretation of available Data

[translation = guessing {sub translation = an uneducated guess to boot}]

I fight with the Brussel sprouts as my younger autistic son drapes himself on me.
“But why?” No speech delay today then!
“Why what dear?” I am not ready for any further discussions about vegetables.
“Why naked?” Please, just let me get these finished!
“They’re not naked dear, I’m just taking the outer leaves off so that they’ll be all perky underneath.”
“What perk?” Help!
“Um, fresher, greener, more appetizing.” He sidles around and melts over the kitchen counter, rests his head on his forearm and honours me with a glimpse of his huge eyes.

“What you talk? What you say? What are you talking about?” I don’t know, now that you mention it? Perhaps I’m on the wrong tack entirely.
“What are you talking about? Are you asking me about the Brussel sprouts?”
“No I ask about da naked?”
“Who or what is naked dear?”
“No he’s not, he’s just got dressed.”
“I know dat! But before. When he is in da bed he is naked.” Ah. I glance around for support. [translation = physical presence of additional parent {sub translation = the culprit}]

“Oh here he is! Look Daddy’s here now, why don’t you ask him yourself about being naked in bed?” Spouse stops dead in the kitchen and blinks. [translation = several times, whilst his word retrieval system kicks in.]
He exhales and rubs the stubble on his chin to aid word production.
“Well, I don’t like pyjamas, never have, never will.”
“Why you don like em?”
“I don’t know really, you just get all tied up and tangled in them.”
“Me too! Why I have to be wearing da pyjamas den if you are not wearing da pyjamas also?” [translation = get out of that one matey? {sub translation = check mate}]
“Um?.....well when you are a man then you can decide for yourself.” Good counter!
“What if I grown up to be da woman?”
“You won’t.”
“No, no, no. I am meaning……er…….Mummy is not wearing da pyjamas either?” [translation = sunk]
“Women don’t wear pyjamas they wear, er……they wear nighties don’t they? What do women wear in bed love?”
“Don’t ask me, I want nothing to do with this conversation. But don’t indoctrinate the child with such sexist propaganda!” [translation = why don’t you both just run along and play somewhere else?]

“Y’know. I am finking dat dis is…..er……well…….jus a minit………is it dat da English people are naked in bed and not da American people?” Horray! A let out clause.
“Yes, you’re absolutely right! English people are naked in bed at night, not American people, they were pyjamas and nighties at night.” Now there’s a stroke of luck! Spouse and I grin at each other, another triumph of logic.
"You know?" he says, "you need to remind me about that tactile whatever it is, or is that sensory whatever it was?"
"You think that's what it might be?" Our son disrobes in the kitchen between us. Spouse is first, “what are you doing? Don’t take your clothes off!”
“But I am an American and it is day time.” [translation = a double dose from the gene pool]

Giving Thanks [translation = Indeed we do]

Is it autism or dyslexia that causes that? 'Thanksgiving' indeed! They have it the wrong way around of course. After a decade here, no-one can give me a satisfactory explanation as to why it’s ‘Thanks Giving’ rather than the other way around? It makes no sense? Over the years I have managed to acquire a few genuine American pals. [translation = citizens who permit supervised visitation rights] These are persons who tolerate my inane interrogations. [translation = ‘but why is it called bleachers?’] They dismiss my rational queries and tell me to get a new hobby. [translation = go away]
I stab at another chestnut with my inadequate tools.
“What it is?” he asks, concerned at my violent technique. [translation = Horray that he noticed, horray that he honoured me with a few words]
“It’s a chestnut.”
“It is a nut?”
“Er, sort of, yes, it’s a nut.”
“Why it hot?”
“So I can get the skin off.”
“Nuts have shells, not skin, why it skin? What is skin? It not nut?” I take out the unused grapefruit knife with the serrated curved tip in the hopes of removing more chestnut flesh.
“It’s a ‘chest’ nut, it’s a different kind of a nut.”
“I have a chest. It has skin too. My chest no have a shell but I am not a nut.” You may not be, but I will be soon! I delve into the kitchen drawer and find the melon baler and start digging.
“Why we have the nuts of the chest today?”
“Because it’s Thanks Giving.”
“We have the nuts of the chest at Thanksgiving?” Stab! Stab! Save me someone!
“Well, we actually have them at Christmas.” [translation = the holidays]
“It is Christmas!? It is not Thanks Giving afterall? I have missed it?” Help.
“No, it’s Thanksgiving today and Christmas in a month, ish.”
“Why for we are having the Christmas nuts now at Thanksgiving?” I’ve lost the thread, and accidentally mix the flesh of the chestnuts with the shells and skin. I sigh and turn to look at him, searching for words, words that will make sense.

Spouse appears and looks over my shoulder. A glimmer of a frown. “What is it?” he asks. I pick bits of shell out from under my fingernails poised to answer, but Senior son intervenes on my behalf;
“It is nuts of the chest!” he says gleefully, nearly managing to clap his hands.
“I just thought we were going to have them whole, with brussel sprouts, that’s all.”
“Whole?” I query.
“Where is hole?” pipes up senior son. “We are having holes too?”
“Marrons, those French things in a tin,” proffers spouse. My mother would have heart failure if she thought I would purchase such an item, let alone permit it to enter the household. I correct his pronunciation. Senior pipes up again, “they are not maroon, they are brown, why you say maroon?”
“I didn’t, I said marron, it’s French for Chestnut.”
“French nuts of the chest are maroon?” he gasps.

I pass the bag of rogue chestnuts to spouse. “Here, you two can do the rest and see how many holes you can find whilst you’re at it.” [translation = miffed]

In, Out, Shake it all about

Autism or no autism, some things are beyond the pale. Bear in mind, that for me, musical appreciation would guide me to be more of a ballroom dancer type. A dignified glide, so as not to dislodge the tiara nor muss the corsage. I believe that young people today, do not favour [translation = favor] such pastimes, preferring more aerobic forms of dance. [translation = I am allergic to anything that might make me glow {sub translation = perspire}] But I digress.

Back to the ‘shake it all about.’ Hold that thought. No! Not that one, delete that naughty thought and go back to the children’s perspective. [translation = the innocents] That’s right, the Hokey Cokey thought. [translation = Hokey Pokey] Now we’re on the same page! Think of this, as a ‘not so scholarly critique’ or explanation, of this children’s dance, possibly from the viewpoint of one, or maybe two, autistic children. Acknowledge or deny as many as you deem appropriate.
For current purposes [translation = controlled clinical environment] we will ignore issues such as the volume of the music, be that self generated, by singing [translation = unlikely] or utilizing some form of modern technology e.g. hifi, stereo, radio, tapes, CD’s, records[?] etc. [translation = that’s about as modern as we get around here.]

We’ll also ignore the following; company. [translation = who is with us] Where we are? [translation = home or somewhere public and scary = synonymous] Variables such as simply having a bad day, any current phobias or obsessions. [e.g. the need to have arms clamped tightly to the body and that legs be pinned together at all times. A bit like a soldier standing to attention but in this instance, for the purpose of self protection.] We want to keep this as simple as possible. With me so far?

So, we have the familiar annoying tune, [translation = temporarily mislaid inner child] with words, simple words. [translation = lets not get bogged down in the speech delays] Although the matter of prepositions can be a nightmare, we will dismiss those too. [translation = in, out, up, down, between and we’ll ignore the issue of ‘shaking’ whilst we’re about it] Whilst they know all of these words, then are not considered important enough to use appropriately. On the whole they are surplus to requirements, afterall most of them are pretty small words. Generally speaking they prefer bigger words, multiple syllable words such as ‘voracious’ or ‘commercial.’ They may not be able to pronounce them correctly, but they still prefer them. However, such terms are not much use, if you’re trying to dance and sing at the same time. [translation = unless you know otherwise?]

Right, so now we’ve cleared the pathway of clutter, we can begin.
I lied. There are a couple more issues that we need dismiss. [translation = eliminate for the purposes of this discussion] Independence. An autistic child is often independent. By this, I mean that they are on their own programme with their own agenda, as many children are. However, in two particular cases, the cases of my particular sons, [maybe others] when they are doing whatever it is that they are doing, they object strongly to being asked to do something else. This phenomenon is known as a ‘transitioning problem.’ [Sorry! Challenge] It is an issue for many children, but autistic children are far more tenacious.

This is linked with a secondary [translation = probably far more important] issue of motivation. [translation = I left the best for last] It goes something like this:
Hunker down, gain eye contact, arrange facial features into animated expression, moderate tone of voice to sound excited, use hand gestures assuming that you are not guiding the child’s body to orientate them towards you.
“Come on you lot! We are going to play the Hokey Cokey?” Always a statement, never an invitation, as the answer will always be ‘no.’ [translation = guaranteed.]
“It’s not the Hokey Cokey Mom, it’s the Hokey Pokey! They’re never gonna play if you use the wrong name!” Valid criticism, as always. I put an arm around the shoulder of each boy in the hope of conducting a positive energy force into their little bodies.

“Nah, dat is boring.” Simultaneous hurdles; stop what you are doing [translation = transition] do something more fun [translation = motivation]
“Come on, it will be fun!”
“Nay, dat is not fun.” Child may be reflecting upon the challenge of co-ordinating body parts, following instructions, balance, and such like, all of which have negative connotations because of the perceived difficulty. [translation = which is a reality too] So, just assuming that you have battled your way to this point, you probably have insufficient energy reserves to sing and dance too. [translation = flat battery]

{Sub translation = who needs a tiara anyway?}

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