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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Danger lurks around every corner

I take my youngest autistic son to the supermarket with me. [translation = grocery store] To say that such an errand was akin to punishment, would be an understatement, but I am out of options today. Like most children, shopping is one of his least favourite activities, [translation = me too!] but malnutrition is but one missing meal away.

I have carefully chosen an alternative store. This alternative store, has one overwhelming advantage over it’s competitors, one that the store owners are probably blissfully unaware of. The shop has electric doors, which are the bane of many a parent’s life. [translation = they’re open, they’re closed, hop in, hop out, get in the way off all customers who arrive or leave, as they are invisible, chortle merrily throughout]

However, in this particular sanctuary, the electric doors have foolishly been located in close proximity to the produce section. [translation = fruit and veg] Few things are as obnoxious as fruit and veg, to my son. The stench of produce is more than sufficient to curtail his door activities, or at least that is what I am hoping.

The produce department has long been an area of fear and dread because periodically, water sprays down upon the lush vegetation, a mist of glistening droplets. Whilst for most people this adds to the enticement, for others it is a deterrent. [translation = sensory] Should you see a small child scream and run for cover amongst the boxes of green bananas under the tressel table, clearly he is a hooligan on a quest to trample fruit. Or even a larger child for that matter.

I have only three or four items on my shopping list. I encourage his help but he will have none of it, nor will he touch the list. He won’t touch the small piece of favourite yellow coloured paper, because it is paper. [translation = tactile defensiveness, but we’re working on it] Additionally, my list is hand written and fails to meet his standards of cursive letter formation. [translation = I imagine that he would find fault with the copperplate of monks too]

I nearly trip over a basket that some idiot has abandoned in the middle of the aisle. Why do people do that? The inconsiderate nature of the general public never ceases to amaze me! My son chortles, “Elliot is idiot, Elliot is idiot, Elliot is idiot.” His scripting is right on target, which is excessively irritating. [translation = many speech delayed children use clumps of words that they collect from here and there. More often than not, the spirit of the phrase is accurate, like a dart.]

To distract himself from the pain of shopping, he reads every label aloud, loudly. This innocent pastime engages him as he bolts around with his arms folded across his chest in a protective gesture. He startles and jumps at things that I am unable to identify. [translation = hyper-vigilance] In the dairy aisle he fondles eggs and cooes gently at them. Strangely, eggs, any eggs, are always soothing to both the boys. It is as they have magical powers, even though neither of the boys eat them. This is the calmest 7 seconds that we experience.

He queries labels and harangues me with questions with every step. For every step that I take, he takes ten, rushing around in the style of a skateboarder. I choose my last item. [translation = grab something that looks vaguely like what I want and hurl it in the basket] “We are done?” he sparks.
“We are.” He accelerates off in a tail spin to the bakery department to choose his treat. [translation = task completion and reward time, for holding it together for 12 minutes]

He skids to a premature halt aghast at the view. I look at the cakes and notice that each set has a hand written label. [translation = it would appear that the bakery does not employ monks] He covers his mouth with his hands and bounces on the spot. [translation = a dilemma of the tallest order, how to look at the cakes and yet screen out the offensive labels?] He agonizes for a few more moments before a bolt of spare bravery comes to his rescue. He takes one long single step, very slowly, to bring his body close to the glass. He stands rigid with his arms close to his sides and his eyes closed. He breathes slowly and deliberately. When he’s ready, his eyes snap open and absorb the cakes.

“What is it?”
“What is what dear?”
“Petit?” Oh dear, a new word, a foreign word. Do I want my son to learn foreign words at this juncture? Other than "Brioche?"
“It means ‘little’ dear.”
“Why it is four? Why it not three?” [translation = his current favourite number]
“It’s the name of a cake dear, "petit four," means little cake. It’s French, a different language.” [translation = actually it means ‘little oven,’ but I didn’t know that at the time] He mouth starts to move, he puffs and blows like a steam engine pulling away from the station.

“Dat is dah most stoopidest…….”

Oh dear. A level 8 meltdown ensues to the horror of all the surrounding shoppers. At six and a half, he is too large to be rolling around on the tiled floor screaming. There are too many feet and too many table legs for this to be safe. I have no option but to scoop him up and retire to edge of the wall.

Seven minutes later he has still not regained the power of speech, but he is able to lift an arm to point. I follow where his index finger indicates. The sign on the cakes reads ‘Large Petit Four.’ For him, to have ‘little’ and ‘large’ in the same description, on the same label, is too much of a contradiction for him to be able to fathom or tolerate.

I decide to give it best. [translation = admit defeat] I leave my basket of four items un-purchased. I carry my son, limp, exhausted and ever so slightly damp. [translation = ignore the rule about ‘no carrying under any circumstances’ = another campaign failure] Surely there must be something edible in the freezer at home that I can unearth? I sneak one of the cookie samples for him as compensation. [translation = and pray to the basket collector to forgive me my idiocy]

Recently, someone, probably 'anonymous,' implied that I might indeed be losing my grip on my rather tenuous sanity. Should you care to share your own opinions on this vexing matter, please comment upon whether I really do have a "screw loose."


A Bishops Wife said...

Do not feel bad! I am the only one (I think) with a screw loose LOL!

I avoid taking Junior to the store as much as possible. Unless the Hubby is with me. I have though. I have bought those "Petit Fours" myself too--now I am hungry!

Junior does not do well at all. Believe it or not, the only one he does okay in in is Wal-Mart. We try to stay with the same one all the time. No matter where we go, he never makes it through the check out with out a scene.

What I notice is, people with "perfect, sedate" NT kids with them love to stare the look gleefully and angelicly at there "sedate" child. The hubby is never intimidated. He just goes on like no one is looking.

If they do not quit he has been known to comment to Junior "Look at those odd people over there." Which is better than when he is really irritated and says "Look at those ugly people over there." Either way, they generally stop looking.

Anonymous said...

Luckily, we don't usually have full melts in the grocery store. But they've been going weekly or oftener since they were infants. I have found lately the younger covers his ears in the mall at times... music playing.

My problem is the eldests mouth and behaviour in public. You'd think I never taught him manners... sigh.... so I try to advoid taking him out too often.

Screw loose.... I'm spending my summer toiletting.. and you and I know it's going to have to be done again next summer.... guess we all have one loose at the moment :)

Coffee?? Front porch??

The Jedi Family of Blogs said...

You are the sanest one of us all, dearie, never fear! :)

Mine is generally on the floor by the time we reach the checkout & the basket is too full to abandon (& he's just about my size, so too big to carry!). We have tried many things- hat pulled down over the eyes (pretending to be blind, with great glee) works best, but speaking japanese can be a good distraction for a while (until I exhaust my supply of japanese).

It's not defeat to carry or otherwise give-in. A wise general knows when to retreat :) (& live to engage another day). You go, girl!!

Joeymom said...

I stil have to have Joey in the cart. Andy does OK walking and helping, but not Joey. Enclosure is key.


dgibbs said...

We do best at Wal-mart as well but only the super Wal-mart. The smaller one seems to trigger meltdowns that register high on the rictor scale.

Thanks for comming and looking at my blog. And don't worry about the loose screws we need them loose to be more flexable at our age :D

Niksmom said...

lisa/jedi said it best...dear "general!" I can understand the confusion which would ensue upon seeing a sign for "large petit fours". That would flummox many an NT as well! LOL

Anonymous said...

Level 8 melt down reminds me of this book:

Its the Incredible 5 Point Scale.

Have you seen it? I use it a lot with my students.

Ps...I lost my screw as well as my marbles

Milehimama @ Mama Says said...

My oldest loved to play with eggs too - I didn't know anybody else did that! He'd make nests for them and take them outside, and meltdown when they inevitably broke.

I go shopping at 10pm while husband wrassles the kids into bed. It's the only way.

Mama Says

Anonymous said...

Who knew we would grow up to fear the grocery store.

Girlplustwo said...

screw loose? not for a minute. you do your best, we all try to do our best, it's the best we can do.

bigwhitehat said...

Claudia can not take Tiger shopping.

I want him to act better in the store so I take him every time. It aint pretty.

Sometimes it is rough on employees and bystanders too. Too bad for them. I have a boy to teach and yes I am indeed that selfish. I can be a good neighbor when he is grown.

Maddy said...

Ooo does that mean that that's 'your'
Claudia above [with no link?]

I love the idea of sending my better half out to do the shopping, but I certainly couldn't survive on a trollyfull of chocolate biscuits.

It would make everyone else pretty happy though!

mjsuperfan said...

Recently I've had the (preferable, I admit) problem of one of my boys getting "too happy" in stores. At his age it is still cute (at least to me) but it is getting really, really loud.

I think it has something to do with the lights, probably combined with the cookies I use as bribes. By the checkout, he was pretty much yelling with happiness.

Definitely better than public tantrums (which we have, too). You do not have any screws loose, in my opinion, you are surprisingly sane with everything you deal with!

la bellina mammina said...

Loose screw? I don't think so - but that was a great post.

Anonymous said...

Nope, this Claudia (no link) is not BWH's Claudia.

I have no link, as I have no blog. Just obsessively read other peoples'.

Baby steps...I just stopped lurking (well, at least here).

Anonymous said...

Wow...no you don't have any loose screws.

I learn a lot from reading your blog. Our little guy is 3 and has the major melts because of those stupid "magic" doors--the ones that are propped open and don't close. I'm beginning to "get it" that the doors staying open is wrong wrong wrong.

He is still pretty non verbal so we're still doing a lot of guessing. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I gave your blog link to my stepdaughter, our Tomas's mom. I think she reads it too and it's helping her to understand as well.

Maddy said...

Dear Cassie,
I nipped over to your site to catch up and thank you but I find that your comments section isn't there.

So I hunt for your email address - which isn't there.

So this will have to do instead.

Thank you for your kind and generous words. However, I only write about the couple of versions of autism that we experience here. [or my best guess] There is huge autism community on the Autism Hub [the pink thigummy do dah on the side bar] where there are great number of very knowledgeable writers, who benefit greatly from being free of loose screws.

Now I think we should all nip over to Cassie and harangue her - even if it's only to admire the lovely photo of the gorgeous [but not edible] T.

joker the lurcher said...

oh i so relate to this! my son used to climb in the freezers if he was hot, and scream at anyone who brushed him that they had hit him. he would also beep loudly at anyone whose trolley was in our way.

we now (if we have to - mostly do internet shopping) go to waitrose which is the poshest supermarket but has the most solidly built buildings - brick rather than echoey tin sheds.

the eggs thing - my son loves to hold egg yolks and as you say finds them calming.

love your blog so much!

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