I have moved over to WhittereronAutism.com. Please follow the link to find me there. Hope to see you after the jump! :)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Suck it up

This is a curiously annoying American term, which effectively advises the complainant to accept whatever is happening with good grace. This is the annoying phrase that comes to mind as I watch the grandmother of my children attempt to encourage them to smell a flower. It is very much like the same exchange that I have had endured first hand with my children for many a long year. [translation = no progress on this particular front] The main difference here, is that she is an even more mature woman but has the added impediment of being hard of hearing. The fact that they even give her the time of day, that fact that they tolerate such an unreasonable request, tells me volumes.

I would hasten to add that I have no idea if this is an 'autism' thing or a 'child' thing. For us is it merely the current status quo.

“Come on. You smell. Smell it. It is lovely. You try.” I have absolutely no idea why this is so difficult for them, both of them.

Their bodies are orientated towards her. Their eyes flicker across her face at intervals, no doubt checking for signs of sanity, if not additional advice. Her thick Italian accent still captivates them.

“I am smelling it?” he gasps, eyebrows reaching up to his hair line.
“What? I can’t hear you. Say it again.”
“I am smelling it?”
“That’s right. I want you to smell the flower. Here, come closer. Put your nose nearer it so you can smell it.” They shuffle their feet but don’t actually move forward. “Come on, try. It is lovely. You will like it.” She and I both know that flowers are of no current interest to either of the boys. They oblige her only because they love her, a fact that should not be glossed over. Even a year ago they would have been more likely to walk on hot coals, than willingly do anything for anyone.

She coaxes him. He takes a step closer, balances on the toes of one foot, lifts the other leg high behind him, ballerina style to blow his nose in the general direction of the flower.
“No! Not blow, sniff. Sniff it with your nose.”
He repeats the same gesture.
“Why you blow? Sniff it. Sniff it in, not out.”
“What it is ‘out’?”
“What? Say it again, I can’t hear you.”
“You say sniff in not out?” To verbalise something once is an effort. To repeat a question, was unheard of around here. [translation = only 18 months ago]
“Yes, that’s right. If you blow out then your nose cannot smell it. You need to breath in.”
He sucks in mouthfuls of air, goldfish style.
“No. Not with your mouth, with your nose. Your nose.”
“My nose cannot be opening and closing. I can only be doing dat with my mouth.”
“What? Say it again, I can’t hear you.”
“You don’t have to shout. I am not that deaf you know.”
“Oopsie, sorree!”
“What you say?”
“I SAID OOPSIE, SORREE! Oopsie, sorry I shouted.”
“What? Never mind. Sniff for me. Sniff like when you have a cold.”
“I don have a cold.”
“I know you don’t have a cold right now but pretend, sniff with your nose.” He pinches his nostrils together and snorts dry snot.
“Don’t do that, it is dirty. Not out, in, sniff in.” She demonstrates. [translation = models the requested behaiour with great aplomb]
He blows his nose again. She slaps her thighs and laughs. “Can’t they sniff? Why can’t they sniff?” she asks me. She shakes her head and raises a hand to stop me answering what is now a rhetorical question.
Can I offer prizes for the correct answer? A virtual flower perhaps? Any answer? Any insight? A little clue? A hint?


gretchen said...

Oh my gosh- I would be HOWLING with laughter if I witnessed this! I love it.

Henry has been trained, I guess, to bend over a flower, blow out of his nose, and say "mmmm. It smells pretty."

Irene said...

I have so enjoyed reading your blog, the "stupid King" was hilarious! I hope you enjoyed (or are enjoying) your visit "home." What a sweet "mum" you have!

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Too funny! My son also has a problem with being told to breathe (or suck) in or blow out. At 6 he seems to get it some of the time. This has been problematic for our OT (who tries to get him to suck through a straw) and in learning to swim, where one must blow.

Phoebe said...

I think it's a kid thing, NT or spectrum.

Your mother sounds great - glad you had fun.

The Jedi Family of Blogs said...

Amazing & wonderful :)

I think you have me beat, though- 3 kids to England, for heaven's sake...

Welcome home!!

Anonymous said...

Why can't they sniff?? I have no clue. The eldest does when his allergies or cold gets him. But to do it on command?? Never. Blow yes, sniff no.

That child is as "normal" as most of the world will every be IMO... and fully verbal... yet this motor skill....

One day, I'd like him to master blowing his nose... still don't have that one either.

Little one... doesn't sniff... but I'm not surprised.. the big one surprises me.

Anonymous said...

lol...that is classic!!

Joeymom said...

Joey doesn't sniff, either. We've got him on straws, and now he can sometimes play a recorder, but the ins and outs of breathing seem to cause some confusion when the action is not actually FOR breathing...

Melissa said...

Love it! :) It still amazes me when family try to get Little Bug to do things they know he can't/won't do. I know they want to help, but they do tend to push him a little too far. Good for your boys for "sucking it up" and dealing with the situation ;)

Haddayr said...


One of Arie's obsessions for a long time was smelling everything (including the seats of swings other children have just vacated), so he's got it down pat.

bigwhitehat said...

This phrase has made its way into the Texas vernacular also. It is still less used than the classic, "Cowboy up, you sissy!"

Raquel said...

Hi. My name is Raquel. I have a blog re: Autism and would like for you to check it out.

If you share passion for solving the mystery behind Autism, please add my blog to yours. I'd like to use my blog as a source of information since I work with families of children with Autism.

This is my link http://autism4theuneducated.blogspot.com/

Hope to hear from you.

MightyMom said...

ok, my theory on why kids in general and those with PDD in particular have trouble "sniffing"

It's too abstract. you can blow out a candle, with mouth or nose (dandelions too) but can't sniff something you can see in. For the one who wants to teach blowing noses, I'd try the dandelion (candle if you're very careful and very brave), or blowing a cotton ball across a table out of the nose. But you just cant do that sniffing. So, if sniffing ever makes it to the top of my things to teach Sonshine, here's how I'll try. (there are SOOOO many more important things to teach).

start with strong smells. Flowers just won't cut it. Hot salsa, worchestershire sauce or soy sauce maybe. onion. or something that really stinks. Then label the smell. put up to nose, then say oooh that smells bad. Then a bottle of strong perfume or something...smells good. then after they know what it is you're talking about when you refer to a smell. Work on the more subtle smells that you have to sniff for. And if you get a big sniff before a big blow, it still counts in my book!

I have a comment on the friends/family pushing too hard, but this is long enough so just know you're not alone.

Raquel said...

thanks for your message! Let me know if I can help you as well.

Refer as many people as you'd like to my blog. I'm trying to make my blog be yet another resource for families.

many thanks!!

mjsuperfan said...

I can't comment on the inability to sniff. At our house, we are still at the point where, if you want to smell something, you try to place some of it inside your nostrils.

I think it is so touching that your boys try so hard to please your mom.

kristina said...

Charlie sniffs when he wants to-----now nose-blowing, that's on the list of Things To Learn.

A rose by any other name.......

Anonymous said...

We have the same problem, in the reverse. They'll sniff in, but blowing out is not a thing they do. Bubbles helped them learn to blow out with their mouth, and straws helped them learn to suck in... But the nose, how to you teach to use the nose in such a manner?

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