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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A place for everything and everything in it’s place

In the rush, I forget. I arrive at the school for pick up, just in time. [translation = to get a parking place] I gathered my small people and shepherded them to the safety of the car. There seem to be far too many legs and arms around for me to keep hold of and I am again grateful for the lovely car, or rather the lovely car’s automatically opening doors. As they slide open to allow for easy entry, junior stops dead and screeches as the top of his lungs. [translation = approximately 400 people turn in our general direction to see which child has a stake through the heart] Two children enter the car and take their seats, one remains steadfast on the curb incoherent. He assumes the position, curled like a shrimp on the pavement, his body appearing to have convulsions. The retching, choking noises are interspersed with rooster noises. [translation = better than screaming and an indication that verbal communication should be returning shortly] People step around him. Several kindly persons offer assistance. My explanation that he ‘will be just fine,’ appear to be a patent lie. Clearly the child is having a near death experience, whilst I, his mother sit by his side and stroke his back. I peer through the moving crowd. His teacher is at the door. She gives me a thumbs up sign and smiles. [translation = he had a great day at school, sorry the ‘great’ part of the day is now over]

His sister leans out of the car to check on his progress, “maybe five minutes? D’ya think?” Her assessment is probably more accurate than mine. [translation = of his recovery time] I nod and smile. She turns her attention to her other brother, where they entertain each other with crumbs left over from their lunch sacks. [translation = thank goodness it’s only one child having a meltdown with no knock on effect to the others!]

Junior realizes that he is on the ground. [translation = tactile aversion is playing second fiddle to whatever the current horror is] He flips over to make a remarkably accurate impression of a Russian dancer as he kicks his feet out to shake off the dust. His squeaks are timed perfectly. [translation = coordinated in time with the leg thrusts] He leaps to his feet, brushing off specks of dirt like a whirling dervish. Once he is satisfied that he has achieved the desired level of cleanliness, he sighs and droops a bit. I take this is my cue.

“What is so bad dear?” He sparks remembering what it was that set him off in the first place. He points a tremulous index finger to the interior of the car. [translation = the same car that we have had for two years.] I look too, just in case.
“You’re gonna kill me?” I look blankly at him trying to connect dots that I cannot see. He helps me out. “You’re gonna kill me wiv dat fing?” I notice the dust buster on the carpet, left over from my ‘blitz the car’ effort. I am so lucky that he is now able to tell me things.

“Oh that’s a mistake, I just forgot to put it back on the recharger.” The dust buster is one of his more hated domestic appliances. [translation = because of the noise] It is my habit, to announce in a loud voice that I am about to use a domestic appliance. [translation = this is a vast improvement upon having to all housework at night, when they are in deep sleep]

This is thus a two fold problem? Firstly, there it is, the hated thing. Secondly, the hated thing has popped up unexpectedly in the wrong place at the wrong time. [translation = boo!] I remove the hated thing and sling it in the boot. [translation = trunk] He takes a cautious step towards the car, examines the floor and gently brushes the carpet fibres where the hated thing had been lying, just to make sure that it is truly gone and that there is no cross contamination.

We drive home. “So! Does the car look clean?” I ask under the foolish misconception that anyone might care one jot.
“You wash dah car?” he asks incredulous. I have occasionally used an automatic car wash service. Once, I had the children in the car with me whilst it was automatically washed. My idea of entertainment and my boys’ idea of entertainment did not match. [translation = rats in a trap that is on fire]

To me, the presence of the dust buster signifies that I have cleaned the carpet at least, but it appears that this is not an automatic conclusion. I remind myself that I have a whole book about teaching inferences to autistic children. I remind myself that maybe I ought to dust off that book, instead of the car carpet. Seems that I do everything too "late."


Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Oh, vacuums are my son's enemies as well. If I must vacuum when he is home, I send him upstairs (or downstairs) first. I am so thankful for two stories, I can't even tell you.

I have an adorable picture of my two kids around vacuum time, my daughter is holding her hands over my son's ears. When she heard I was going to vacuum, she rushed to him, saying, "I'll save you, Brother!" And covered his ears for the duration. :)

Unknown said...


You've come by my place a couple of times and I've come over here but I'm not sure if I've commented yet.

The last few posts (the ones which I've read) have been so fascinating. You seem so patient and your descriptions of your sons' behavior is so matter of fact, yet still warm and loving.

I look forward to reading more.

GClef1970 said...

Oh, how I laughed out loud at this entire post (in empathy, of course). I absolutely must announce whenever I am going to use the food processor, blender, vacuum, et.al. However, I concur that it is definitely better than when I had to use all of those items after bedtime!

Bea said...

It's true - words are so helpful. And how easy it is just to attribute a tantrum to stubborness when really it's about the (perfectly logical!) inference that the dustbuster is an instrument of homicide!

edenelise said...

I am an educator in the United States. It has been two years since I have had the unique pleasure of working with a student with autism. I had forgotten some of the particular reasons I enjoy working with students who can be both very surprising and very predictable. I cannot tell you the number of times that I have been completely stunned at what would cause a meltdown. I get better at predicting them and avoiding them with experience, but they still sneak up on me from time to time. However, I also enjoy the fact that once you understand what generally lies behind those meltdown moments, you can often work toward a moderate ground where you and the child are able to function. As an educator, I sometimes forget that my students must go home and that home must certainly be filled with unique challenges, just as there are those that come with school life. I have enjoyed reading through the posts on your blog, and I've come away with some valuable reminders as I look forward to another year in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

When you figure how to be "early"... pls... I need to know...

Luckily I just get a whine and dragged to where the appliance goes with the little one.

His least fav is the mixer. We have central vac and it doesn't seem to bother him since the container is in the bsmt. Not as loud.


Niksmom said...

Wow, that's quite an amazing leap he made about the vacuum. (Just what HAVE you been threatening, eh? wink, wink!)

Nik, on the other hand ADORES the vaccuum. In fact, so much so that I think I may just have to write my own post one day soon! Let's just say he like to get really, really, REALLY close to it! (I'm jealous!)

Anonymous said...

That looks like a book I should get!

Two hate/despise/fear vaccuum. One loves vaccuum. Interesting mix. I take out the vaccuum with great ceremony and let them see me work. Those who wish to run, run. Those who wish to jump up and down in great anticipation enjoy the show.

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