Our journey in the Autism Spectrum

Posts tagged ‘conversations’

A Long Way to Cologne…

…where ridiculous resides and because I always seem to take the long way around a story:

My little dude is funny. Except, after BDC taking him shopping for new sneakers tonight, and finding that his feet are quickly reaching my size (he’s only 8!), he’s not truly” little”. Though I will probably refer to him as my “little dude” for the rest of his life. (So, Henry, you have been warned.) But I digress.

Later in the evening I walked upstairs to corral the little (see, I can’t help myself) chameleons to bed while BDC worked on getting pictures off of my phone and into my computer. Because sometimes I’m technically challenged.  Anyway, it’s a cool evening so the windows are open and our attic fan is running. When I got to our bedroom (because the kids have claimed it as their own and are watching TV in there)  I smelled something strangely odorous.  Like perhaps there was a dead animal nearby in our neighborhood, or more accurately, right outside our bedroom window.

The following conversation ensued.

ME: *scrunching my nose*  “What smells in here?”

Of course, I try to identify it and find the source.  I go over to our window to see if it’s stronger there. You know, sort of like, “Oh this milk is sour! Taste it!” Only in this case I was inflicting this upon my own olfactory senses.  Again, I digress.

As I am unable to discern where said smell is coming from, I turn back to the kids.

HENRY: “Heh, heh!”  *said devilishly*  “That must be me you smell.”

ME: “YOU smell?”   *then I realize I can’t remember the last time Henry had a bath*

HENRY: “Yeah, come smell me.”

* again with the sour milk…?  I move hesitantly toward him.*

HENRY: “Dad and I were trying some man cologne while we were at Kohl’s.”

ME: “Oh!”  *laughing*  “Did you really?”

HENRY: “Only two kinds. Smell.”  *he pulls his t-shirt away from his neck so I can get a good sniff*

ME:  “Hey, that smells pretty good!”  *said with a bit of surprise*  “That’s not what I was smelling a second ago.”

HENRY: “Ohhhh, yeahhhh!”  *nodding his head, giving me the smooth-move-finger-gun motion and an attempt at a wink*  “Dad should get two bottles of each and I should get two bottles of each for four bottles and I should wear this twice a day.”

Well, on the upside, I wouldn’t smell that dead animal smell with Henry bathing in two different types of cologne twice a day.  Although, we  probably would all end up not being able to smell anything after that, rendering any kind of scent a moot point.  (I did mention the long way around, right? Keep reading. It’s almost the end. Really.)

By this time I’m getting the kids tucked in their beds and of course, Lucy has chimed in on the conversation.

LUCY: ” Henry, you can’t wear that!”

HENRY: “I might wear it THREE times a day!  Maybe even FOUR! Ok, maybe just two. I can SO wear it, Lucy.”

LUCY: *laughing*  “Ewwww! No you can’t Henry!  You can’t even date yet.”

HENRY: *matter-of-factly*  “Well, that is true.”

ME: “You don’t have to date to wear good smells. Remember, Henry, you used to wear Mad Hatter? And you really liked that.”

HENRY: “Well, yeah.  I should probably wear man cologne more often. You know, because a man likes to smell good.”

*shaking my head. Good gods, how did I land on this planet and with these kids?!? *

So, there you have it. Because honestly I don’t know how to end this ridiculous story about an equally ridiculous conversation. But it made me so happy to see my kids laughing and being utterly serious and silly at the same time.  For me, that’s reason enough to take the long way to cologne.

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They Accepted

This last part of the school year has been a bit challenging for our little dude. We are getting some notes coming home in his daily binder; “rough day”, “agitated”, “did not want to work with classmates in group”, “impatient”, “not waiting his turn”, etc. It’s the end of the school year and Henry is having a hard time holding it together some days. This is not surprising to me for a kid with an autism diagnosis. We work daily in the area of his social/emotional challenges. Always. Still.

Last week I had gotten a note and a call from the principal’s office that Henry was bothering some girls on the playground and he reached out and grabbed one of them by the shirt. This week a note came home, “arguing today”. Henry doesn’t like to get into trouble. And he really doesn’t like to talk about it when he does get into it. You can almost see how physically painful it is for him to admit he is wrong or to apologize for something. We have been working VERY hard on how to handle this in an acceptable manner. He wants to play with the other kids sometimes but he just doesn’t know how. Nor does he get those social cues when the kids don’t want to play with him or play his way. Another not-so-surprising aspect of his autism diagnosis. This is his most challenging area for sure! I was wondering if this most recent note had something to do with the playground issue from last week. I worry a great deal about what these social challenges might mean for Henry as he grows up. For how long will these challenges be oh-so-challenging for him? Will he ever learn how to navigate these waters appropriately? Will the kids ever understand and accept him for who he is?

When I questioned Henry about who he was arguing with I got the typical first response I usually get from him, “I don’t want to talk about it!” He had just come home from school which is a rough time of day anyway. Fine. Let him decompress.

In continuing with our vigilance in using everything as a possible teachable moment, later that night before bed when all was quieting down, I asked him again who he was arguing with. “Mrs. Q.” (This is his SSD resource teacher that he adores so I was beginning to worry what this was all about.)

“Why were you arguing with Mrs. Q?”

“I don’t know, Mom. Sometimes it seems like I just can’t help it.”

Fair enough. Not that this is acceptable, mind you, but at least he was thinking about it and talking about it calmly with me.

“Well,” I said, “don’t you think you should apologize to Mrs. Q for your behavior?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, good. So when do you see her next?”

“I see her every day, Mom.” he told me in his “duh!” tone.

“Okay, so the next time you are with her you should apologize and try to work harder at not arguing with her. Alright?”

“Yeah, okay.”

I didn’t say anymore about it after that until he got home from school the next day. “Hey, dude, did you talk with Mrs. Q?”

“Yes, and I said I was sorry and I will try to be better.” (I don’t know if he actually did apologize to her but for now I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.) I figured this was the end of it at this point and we let it go.

However, this morning while the little ones were eating breakfast and I was getting clothes ready for the day, Henry came to me and said, “Mom, you know how I told you I apologized to Mrs. Q?”

Uh oh…”Yes, I remember.”

“Weeeellllllllll, I also apologized to the girls I was bothering the other day.” And with a big grin on his face he said, “And they accepted!”

ummmm….wow! Now, I don’t know if there was any adult intervention or whether he did this on his own but still, big. huge. wow.

“Oh, dude! That is really great! I am so proud of you! Great job!” But, again, as we continually try to practice and remind and practice more, I couldn’t help adding, “So now that you said you were sorry for that, you will try hard and not bother them anymore, right?” While he is getting better at saying he is sorry, he still has a hard time stopping some of the behaviors.

“Right. But can I play with them?”

“Of course! But you need to asked them if you can play with them first. And if they say no, then you need to leave them alone, okay?”

“Yeah. But then can I still wave to them and say hi?”

Oh my sweet little dude! “Yes! That would be very nice of you!”

I realize that Henry’s classmates will never really understand how hard all of this social interaction is for him. But today, I feel we are one more step closer to acceptance!

Early Morning Mercury

This morning Henry, Lucy and I were eating breakfast together as usual. Generally there is not a lot of conversation between us at this hour of day as I’ve only had one cup of coffee or tea by this point and I am not yet ready for much dialog. We communicate enough to get the job of eating breakfast done so we can move on with our day. This morning, however, the little ones were unusually chatty.

Henry: “You know, Mom, our galaxy?”

Me: “Yes. You mean the Milky Way?”

Henry: “Yeah, the Milky Way. Well you know that stinky planet in our galaxy?”

Me: “Ummm, no. A stinky planet?”

Henry: “Right. That planet that is really fast and really stinky?”

Me: “I don’t know about a stinky planet, Hen. Is it made up of a lot of gases?”

At this point I am not sure where this is going and my brain is spinning back to 8th grade earth science trying to remember all of the planets and their different properties.

Henry: “No, it’s super fast… Mercury! Do you know Mercury, Mom?”

Me: “Oh, sure I know Mercury. I didn’t know it was stinky though.”

Henry: “Yeah, its super speedy and super stinky!” He’s gesturing really fast with one hand waving back and forth and the other hand is holding his nose. And now Lucy chimes in.

Lucy: “Yeah it’s super stinky! P.U.”  Holding her nose as well.

Henry: “Mom, you know what makes Mercury stink?”

Me: “No, I don’t know what makes it stink. Do you?”

Henry: “Do you think it’s that green stuff?”

Me: “What green stuff?”

Henry: (sounding exasperated) “Uh, helllooo, the stinky green stuff…!!!”

Me: (At this point I really need more caffeine!) “Dude, I have no idea.”

Lucy: (laughing hysterically) “Maybe the aliens are burping out of their bottoms and that’s what’s making it stink!”

I will add in here that I am thankful that about a year or so ago Henry came up with the phrase “body burping” for passing gas and we have had variations of such ever since. That’s a keeper!

Henry: “No, Lucy, that’s not it! They’re not burping out of their bottoms!”

Lucy: “Maybe the alien babies pooped in their diapers and that’s why it stinks.” (more laughing)

Henry: “Lucy! No!”

Lucy:“Mommy should change them and then Mercury wouldn’t stink!”

Henry: “Lucy! Arrrrrrrh! Stop! They’re not burping out of their bottoms and they don’t have poopy diapers!”

Lucy: “Well maybe…..”

It was here that I left the Great Stinky Planet Debate and headed for more tea and a shower. It was way too early for me to even consider trying to make more of a contribution to this conversation. Let those stinky, body-burping aliens chime in and they can change their own diapers while their at it!

Slinging Webs and Canacholearnology

We have a lot of unusual verbal exchanges that go on in our home. Usually these exchanges involve Henry as we try to figure out what the heck he is talking about. Sometimes it is downright frustrating, but most times it can be very humorous.  We encourage some (okay, a lot) of his funny Henry-speak more than we probably should but we are just so thrilled when he wants to talk and carry on any form of conversation that we feed right into it. He is our little dude of few words, stringing only one to three words together at a time if you are lucky. He shortens the sentences he chooses to speak down to the bare minimum required to get his point across…unless he decides he wants to share…and then look out!  His speech is fairly clear and he does have a decent vocabulary but he also still does a lot of garbled jargoning in between and he has developed some words and/or phrases of his very own that we have yet to decipher. To add to this, Henry can be an extremely fast talker. I can be a very fast talker myself but even when I try to say some familiar phrases as fast as Henry, I get nowhere close to his speed!

Last night’s exchange is just one small example of a conversation with Henry. I was coming down the hallway last night making my final rounds on the kiddos expecting the littlest ones to already be fast asleep. I was saying goodnight to the oldest, Molly, as she herself had just tucked in, when I thought I heard something come from Henry and Lucy’s room. I peaked in and saw Lucy was down for the count.  Henry, however,  was sitting up in bed, his big brown eyes blinking at me in the semi-dark.

“Hey, little dude. What are you still doing up?” I move over toward him and he scoots over and makes a place for me with his “friend pillow”.

“I can’t sleep, Mom.”

“Why not?”

“I’m afraid of nightmares you know, Mom.”

“I know you are buddy but you haven’t had a nightmare in a long time. And you know they are not real. They are just like pretend.”

“I know but I want a Spiderman costume that shoot webs.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. It shoots webs.” He demonstrates holding his one arm out straight and using the other to press some kind of web trigger on the outstretched arm.

“Well, you need to get to sleep, mister. Can you turn over now and try to sleep?”

“Well, yeah, but I need a Spiderman costume. It shoots webs and it is red with webs all over. Can we get one?”

“Maybe when it gets closer to Halloween we can look for one but not right now. Now is bedtime.” I am not sure where this conversation is going at this point. Right now we are talking very quietly, matter-of -factly. Nice. Sometimes these conversations can take quite a turn toward tears and meltdowns…I am treading carefully.

“But I NEED one!” More in a tone of exasperation than anxiety. I am only slightly relieved by this.

“How come you need one right now? Can you tell me?”

“Well, a Spiderman costume shoots webs.” He demonstrates how that works again. Also,in case you haven’t noticed, Spiderman is the superhero of the moment. Or at least for this evening.

“Yes, you showed me. It sounds pretty cool. What would you use the web shooter for? To keep away bad dreams?”

“Yeah. But no. It’s for canacholearn. I can use it in my lab and then I take it and shoot it. And then the bad guys get the scientist and they use if for science.” More demonstrating web shooting. “And then Spiderman and his webs shoot ALLLLL over!”

“Henry, what does “canacholearn” mean. I don’t know that word.” It’s pronounced KA-nacho-LEARN. Well, at least the best that I can tell. He says it so darn fast!

A sigh comes from Henry with what I thought were his eyes rolling at me. (In the semi-darkness it was hard to tell but I am pretty sure that’s what I saw). I have asked him on many occasions what this word/phrase means. “Science mom! Canacholearn is like science! I tell you this before!”  Sometimes he says it is for science~either way, I still don’t have a clue! Clearly there is the “uh. Duh?” tone in his voice.

“Hey, Henry, can you say that word again very slowly? I really would love to understand what you’re saying.” This “canacholearn” phrase has been driving me nuts for months and so I feel compelled to nudge the issue! What the heck is it?!?

“If I had a Spiderman costume that shoots webs I canacholearn and go to my lab and [garbled jargon that I don’t even know what letters to use to spell it out that goes on for about 15 seconds] and shoot it.”

Gee, I didn’t even have to ask him to use it in a sentence.

He doesn’t slow his speech at all but actually says this even faster. I blink back at him and I see that he is holding back a smile. A slight twitch in the corner of his mouth reveals his dimple and gives him away. That stinker!  He knows what I want and he is not giving up any of his secrets tonight.

“Okay, Henry.” I smile back at him to let him know he has won this conversation exchange. “It’s time to try to sleep. Think you can sleep now?”

“I don’t know. Yeah. But no. Okay.”

I kiss his forehead and he hugs me and kisses me back. We just look at each other for awhile and then I see those deep golden brown eyes slowly close.  I lay there for a bit longer with him, watching him, so peaceful. I wonder what is going on in that amazing brain of his. I try to imagine pictures, thoughts, words all flashing  at a speed I cannot comprehend. I am in awe of my little dude. I hope someday I will be smart enough to understand him but mostly I just hope that he will know that I am at least trying to understand.  He says he wants to be a scientist when he grows up. Maybe he is preparing for Canacholearnology. What ever it is I know he will be brilliant!

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