Monday, October 31, 2011

Square Roots

Aaron is reading his Handy Answer Science Book every night before bed.  This morning he said, "Mom, I saw something in my Handy Answer Science Book last night that I don't understand.  Can you give me a piece of paper and let me write it for you?"

So I gave him a piece of paper and this is what he wrote:






I told him that this symbol means square root, which of course meant nothing to him.  So on another piece of paper I began showing him the meaning of square root using the number 9.  He interrupted me with a loud laugh and then said, "That's dumb!" 

Well, why is that dumb, Aaron?    "Because 9 is not square!!!" 

This time I also laughed, and he joined me because he thought I was laughing at my own "dumbness" to think that the number 9 could be square.  What a good laugh we had together, each for our own different reason! 

I was able to explain sqaure roots to Aaron.  He's good at math and he accepted the lesson - but I do believe he still thinks that this whole concept is pretty dumb. 

Literal Aaron is still stuck on the word "square!" 

Change!

We are experiencing this fact of Asperger's today:

       Persons with Asperger's are easily overwhelmed by minimal change.

Amen.  That came from me.  See how calm I am.

GRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

Today is Halloween and Aaron knows that his day group is having a fun day.  Some will dress up, but not all will.  Aaron certainly wouldn't because he doesn't like the way that "different" clothes feel on his body.  And to cover his face up with a mask - been there, tried that................no way!

So yesterday Aaron started saying that he didn't want to go to Paradigm today.  I knew why but asked anyway.  He talked about it being Halloween.  I tried to tell him of all the fun they would have today.  Pizza, candy................he's not buying it. 

This morning was the same thing - "I don't want to go to Paradigm!"       "Do I have to go to Paradigm?!"         "Can I stay home?"    

We talked................actually, I talked.................and Aaron didn't really listen.  So I asked him exactly why he doesn't want to be a part of this fun day and he said:

"Because it isn't Paradigm to me today!"

On Monday Paradigm goes bowling!  Not a silly Halloween party that Aaron doesn't like!  And no amount of persuasion will make him want to go.  If I force it we'll have a disaster.  So Aaron is staying home and is now out in his mulch, calming down. 

Maybe I should join him. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Aaron and Rosie

Aaron has a special friend at his day group.  He calls her Rosie, although that's not exactly her name.  It's his variation, and it's really very sweet that he has a special name for his special friend.  Aaron has always had a hard time making friends because of his social skills - or lack thereof - and over the years has had very few real friends.  He's also shown no interest in girls other than as another target of his teasing or as a person with ears who will listen to his talking. 

When Aaron first started telling us about Rosie we really didn't give it much thought.  He has now made friends at his day group and it's been wonderful to hear him talk about his interactions with them during his day.  His life is more normal and happy than it's ever been in that area.  However, Rosie began to occupy more of his conversation as time went on.  He talked about how he liked walking with her when they would go shopping or eating with her at lunch.  He told us that she loves crayons - really, really loves crayons! 

One day I found Aaron slipping a box of our old crayons into his pocket.  I asked him what he was doing and he replied, "Mom, Rosie loves crayons and I want to take her some."  So I agreed.  But soon he began taking her other crayons until finally we had no more crayons in our old crayon box.  All the markers went, too, and even some colored pencils.  I also found out that Aaron was buying Rosie food or snacks with his money.  Or he would share some of his food or drink with her.  It was sweet, yes, but we didn't want it to go too far. 

Aaron began expressing some frustration that some of his friends were teasing him about Rosie being his girlfriend.  I told him to be nice and to tell them that he and Rosie were just good friends.  We had that same conversation several times over the next few weeks.  Finally one day Aaron once again spoke to me with frustration over this girlfriend issue.  I told him to do what I had said before, and this time even urged him to express that fact to Rosie herself - that they could be good friends and be very happy with that. 

Later that evening, as he and I were watching something on television, he turned to me and said, "Mom, you know what you told me to say to Rosie about being friends?  Well, I'm going to keep those words inside of me."  As I questioned him about what he meant, he continued, "Rosie told me she loves me.  No girl has ever told me that she loves me.  I like how that made me feel."  I just sat there, confronted with the humanity of my special son.  Despite his social impairments, he had just shown me that he also has the same need for love that all us have.  He had no intention of telling Rosie anything that would jeopardize their special relationship. 

It was hard to swallow that huge lump in my throat.  It was a moment that one of those doors of my heart cracked open - the doors I try to keep closed because they hurt too much when what's inside them is exposed.  Rough and gruff Aaron has feelings.  Clueless Aaron, who usually thumps someone on the head or whacks them on their back, was showing tenderness toward Rosie.  Egocentric Aaron was wanting to help Rosie by buying her food or taking her crayons.  And Aaron exposed a part of his heart that we had never seen before.  His desire to be accepted, and loved, and valued by a special someone. 

Rosie and Aaron are still friends.  Rosie doesn't go out with the group as often as she used to, but Aaron sees her a lot at their center where they meet every day.  Today I was there for his yearly BASIS meeting, and after the meeting I watched as Aaron teased his friends and the staff.  He can be loud and rough but they love him.  He and I walked to the door as I was leaving, and there sat Rosie.  Aaron didn't try to say something silly about her hair or whack her on her back.  He very kindly and gently looked at her and said, "Hi, Rosie."  No big deal, but that's what made it a big deal.  Simple and kind and genuine. 

Gary and I are content with Aaron and Rosie being good friends.  We hope it stays that way, innocent and sweet.  We know that we need to walk with caution in these areas with Aaron.  For now, it is simple and good, and we pray that Aaron and Rosie can always be special friends. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More About Ozark People

Aaron and I drove back down to McConnell Air Base to have his TB Tine test checked.  Or as Aaron said, ".........to have my TP test looked at."   We've already talked about Aaron and tp so I won't go there again - though I could.  Anyway................

He started talking once again about Ozark people.  Turns out he saw Ozark people on a Looney Tunes segment.  Today's update was, " Oh, Mom, I found out what Ozark people are.  They're not cowboys or farmers, remember?  I found out on Looney Tunes that Ozark people are Hillbillies!" 

Really?  Hillbillies.  So I asked him to tell me what he knows about Hillbillies.

"Well,"  he said, "Hillbillies live alone."   That's it.  So I asked him again, "Ok, but what is a Hillbilly?"  And he answered, "Mom, they didn't give a full definition."   HA!

Yeah, I guess a full definition on Looney Tunes is a bit much to expect.  Then he asked me to explain what a Hillbilly is.  I told him that, technically, since I'm from the WV mountains that I'm a Hillbilly.   I tried to explain it but realized that I was making myself look a little questionable, and knowing that everyone Aaron talks to for the next few weeks will be told that I'm a Hillbilly - well, I just told Aaron to look at all the pretty leaves outside. 

You know how I love the change of seasons.     

Snow

Remember my post about how every night Aaron has to ask us if it's going to rain?  The boy loves rain!  He loves weather!  He loves talking about weather!

This morning he's up early to go back and have his TB Tine test read.  As Gary was leaving, Aaron was - guess what? - talking! 

"Dad, do you think it's going to snow?" 

Gary:  "Well, I don't know Aaron.  It's not going to snow anytime soon." 

"Well, when do you think it will snow?"

And so on it went, with Gary telling him he doesn't know when it will snow.

Gary left and it was my turn.

"Mom, do you like snow?"   Me:  "Sometimes, Aaron, but I'm not ready for snow right now."

"So when do you think it will snow, Mom?"  Aaron, I don't know when it will snow. 

"Mom, I don't like snow!"    Yes, you do, Aaron.

"Well, sometimes snow makes us have an ice storm.  Remember our ice storm?"   Yes, Aaron, that was years ago. 

"Did that ice storm come from Antartica?"   No, Aaron, it didn't come from Antartica.

"So Mom, when do you think it'll snow?"   Aaron, I DON'T KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

And here we go.  I love the change of seasons.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ozark People

Aaron becomes fascinated with the most random things.  He may see something on a movie or Looney Tunes or the news.  He may read something.  He may see something on a sign or in a store.  He's always observant and for whatever reason, this "something" will captivate him and then he'll have to talk about it.  Of course - always talk about it!!

So this morning Aaron popped into my room and said, "Mom!  You know those Ozark people?"

Uh, not really, Aaron.

"Well, they're kinda like cowboys..................no, not really cowboys.   They're like farmers...................oh, not really farmers either.  But anyway - those Ozark people square dance!!"

OK, all you Ozark people!  You may have no real identity...............after all, you're neither cowboys or farmers!   But you SQUARE DANCE!!!!!!!!!!   I want to be an Ozark person!!  They have fun! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lessons From the Loaded Truck

Gary and I appreciate how our neighborhood association has a designated clean-up weekend twice a year. The association rents a huge dumpster and puts it in a field that's just around our circle from us. It's the perfect time for us to unload any large unwanted items that are allowed in the dumpster. Our big goal, though, is to cut and trim many of our branches, bushes, and trees that have gotten out-of-hand or have died. This last clean-up time a couple weekends ago was no exception. The weather was perfect in every way for Gary and I to head outside and begin our chopping and sawing. It wasn't long before the piles were growing all over our couple acres. It was time for the dying cherry tree to go, as well as an old long-dead spruce. Our huge Crepe Myrtles needed to be cut down low, and the violet bush badly needed some work. Off came the bottom branches of our evergreen that we lovingly call our Gumdrop Tree as we try to save it for one more year of Christmas lights. And there were many, many other branches and limbs and parts of trees that needed to be sawed down and disposed of.


We used to use Andrew's old truck for these days but now that he's off to college we pile the mounds into Gary's truck. What a blessing to have this means of hauling all that mess down to the dumpster! We drag and lift and load over and over again. It's amazing how many loads we haul away! The truck is filled as full as it can be with each trip, that's for sure. Gary has it down to a fine art of how to load the truck and it works very well. We pile it high, and then Gary uses a rope to tie it down before he drives off around the circle to unload. I either ride down with him to help unload, or I stay back at the house to do other things until he returns. One thing I've never done is to run along behind him, yelling for him to stop so that I can take some of the load off and carry it myself; or telling him that I need to rearrange the load; or offering to ride on top of the load to help hold it down. No, that would be silly! The truck is able to carry the load perfectly and the rope holds it secure. I have every confidence in the ability of Gary's truck to do the job and do it well.


As we loaded Gary's truck, I was reminded of what I had read in Isaiah 46 recently. God began that chapter by talking about how the Babylonians would load their false gods onto donkeys when they were being attacked. However, soon both the donkeys and the false gods were taken into captivity. Neither was able to help the other. Then in verses 3 and 4 God reminded Israel: ".......you have been borne by me from birth and have been carried from the womb; Even to your old age I shall be the same, and even to your graying years I shall bear you! I have done it, and I shall carry you! And I shall bear you and I shall deliver you!" What an amazing promise that is true for believers today as well! It's true for me and for you! God will be the same for our entire lives, from birth til death. He desires to bear me and to deliver me! He wants to carry my loads and bear my burdens! Just as I could trust Gary's truck to carry the weight and the amount of our limbs and branches, so I can trust God to carry all the weight and the amount of my troubles and my burdens.


Peter said in I Peter 5:7: "Casting all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you." This carries the idea of throwing my cares upon God. Just as I threw those branches and limbs on the truck, so I can throw my cares upon God. And just as silly as it would be for me to chase Gary around the circle and try to carry the limbs myself, so it's silly for me to throw my cares upon God but then try to take them back. Yet that's exactly what I'm doing every time I pray but still worry and stew over my problems. Why is it so hard to just leave my burdens on the God Who WANTS to bear them for me? Why do I think that by losing sleep, or talking and talking about my issues, or continuing to try to solve my problems myself, or reading the next self-help book - that I can in any way accomplish any more than the donkeys and the false gods did in Isaiah's time? Oh God, may I throw my worries and hurts and fears and pain upon You, fully upon You, and allow You to bear them and to carry me and deliver me!


Just like Gary's good old truck!

Aaron's Descriptions

Aaron has such a fascinating way of describing things that he sees and hears. He is extremely observant and doesn't miss a beat.  That's why he's always finding money, for instance, that's laying on the ground.  I'll walk right by it but he stops and picks it up, whether it's a penny or a few dollars.

How many of us notice, or even care about, the Braille that's on many public signs?  Yesterday as we walked into the immunization clinic for Aaron's TB test, he paused and ran his fingers over the Braille on the sign at the door.  He said, "Look, Mom!  Morse code!"  HaHa!  I reminded him that it's Braille and he said, "Oh yeah!"  and marched on in to see what else he could discover or talk about. 

As we left the clinic we walked by a huge picture on the wall.  It's a beautiful outdoor scene that looks like it came from the mountains of NC or WV.  The picture shows a pretty stream flowing over rocks.  And Aaron said, as usual, "Look, Mom!  That's a picture of a running lake."  Now who would ever think to call a stream a "running lake."  But think of how appropriate that description really is. 

Yesterday morning before we left the house for our busy day, he was outside in the mulch.  It was a cool, fall morning.  That's what you and I say - a "cool" morning.  Not Aaron.  As he got in the van he said, "Mom, it's a half cold morning."  Not cold - not hot - so that makes it "half cold." 

He teaches me a lot and keeps me sharp, that boy does!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Day With Aaron

Today was a full day with Aaron.  He had a dentist appointment and then an appointment with family practice at McConnell Air Base for his 2 year physical - part of his upcoming BASIS assessment this Friday.  Anyway, I threw in a few other stops along the way, too - so it really was a FULL day.  I thought you might want to get a little glimpse of my time with Aaron.

GREAT CLIPS
First, we stopped at Great Clips so he could get a much needed hair cut.  While waiting for a stylist to call Aaron, he had time to stare at the large pictures hung all around the waiting area - pictures of attractive people with attractive hair cuts that we would all like for Great Clips to give us!  But Aaron doesn't notice their attractive hair cuts.  He (rather loudly) asked, "Mom, why do they always make their faces shiny in those pictures?"  He's forever thinking that staged pics of models are interesting because their faces are shiny.  Hmmm...........they really are, you know.  Then he observed how the men getting their hair cut had the cape around them as well as the white strip around their necks, under the cape.  Again, rather loudly, he asked, "Mom, why is there a napkin around their neck?"  So in case they're here for lunch they can just grab it and start eating, Aaron!


DENTIST
Aaron hasn't been doing a good job of keeping his teeth clean.  This is always an issue with Aaron.  As we sat in the waiting room, he said, "Don't you think going to the dentist is creepy?"  Well, I never would have used the word "creepy" to describe the dentist experience but I think it shows how Aaron feels about his visits there.  He came out rather agitated because he doesn't like hearing the hygienist give me bad news, but today he got a good report for doing a better job of brushing.  Yay!  But as he said in his defense, "Everybody's not perfect, right?!"

PIZZA HUT
And here is the main reason that Aaron endured this day...............the unlimited pizza and salad buffet at Pizza Hut!!!  We were the first people there, before any pizza was even out on the buffet, so we started with salad.  With Aaron I feel like asking him if he wants a little lettuce with his dressing and cheese!! Good grief!  Of course, he enjoyed the pizza immensely.  He kept shaking Parmesan cheese on top, though, and getting it on the table.  This bothered him, so as we'd be talking and eating he kept wiping the crumbs off the table in big swoops.  To which I'd say, "Aaron, quit wiping the crumbs off the table."  We talked about the dentist, about the weather, about what he wanted for his birthday................"Aaron, you don't have to wipe the crumbs off the table."   More talk about his doctor visit at McConnell, road work we might encounter on the way, will we go to Wal-Mart today................."Aaron, the waitress will wipe the crumbs off the table."    Talked about running home to let Jackson out, what will we eat for supper, how to better brush his teeth........................."Aaron, DO NOT WIPE THE CRUMBS OFF THE TABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
And finally.............."Mom, can I have some of that black pudding before we leave?"  YUCK!!  So I got him some chocolate pudding...........he did not get to choose the amount for safety reasons.  I set the plate between us as he finished his pizza..............."QUIT WITH THE CRUMBS, AARON!!!!!!"    I sneaked my fork over and got a little sample of the black pudding - and he promptly moved the plate out of my reach.  Well!!!  At least the pudding didn't leave crumbs on the table. 

THE DOCTOR
His physical was very uninvolved and uneventful, thank the Lord!  The very young Air Force doctor was nice and pleasant.  I can always tell, though, that a new doctor is trying to figure Aaron out.  Good luck with that!  The funniest thing that happened all day, though, was when the doctor was going to check Aaron's reflexes.  I guess he was trying to get Aaron to relax and not think about what he was doing.  Aaron's tee shirt had writing on it, something about Thunderbird Motor Oil, etc. and so to get Aaron to not pay attention to what he was doing the doctor said, "Hey, Aaron, what does your shirt say?" 

And Aaron looked down at his shirt and with a hint of disgust at this doctor's ignorance, he replied, "Hmmph!  I can't read it cause it's upside down!!"  I'm sorry, but I just had to laugh - and thankfully the doctor did, too. 

He can get the best of everybody!

Knitting

Aaron loves Looney Tunes.  He loves Sylvester and Tweety, and the little grandma.  The other day he was talking about watching Looney Tunes at his group.  He was trying to describe the scene with Sylvester and Tweety, and the grandma.

And he said, "Mom, that grandma was sitting in her chair and she was knitting.  You know, she had that knit box and those knit rolls!"

You know, if we have a knitting basket and knitting needles................then why not have knit rolls?

Aaron's a genius!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Sonic Commercial

Last night Aaron and I saw a Sonic commercial on television.  It's a commercial advertising their new breakfast burritos.  The gist of the commercial is this:

A man is heard talking in a very deep, sexy voice while pictures of the new breakfast burritos come on the screen.  He says something like, "Baby loves the sausage.  Baby loves the eggs.  Baby loves the bacon.  Baby loves the onions."  He goes on for awhile in this vein, in that deep voice.


I noticed that Aaron was just staring at the screen, thinking.  

And then he said, "That's stupid!"

"What's stupid, Aaron?"

So he told me, "A BABY can't eat sausage, or eggs, or that other stuff!" 

Oh, my literal Aaron!  He does make these commercials a lot of fun!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nuns

Aaron is particularly fascinated by anything that is not a usual part of his world.  One day he was telling us about his trip to the mall with his group.  He was very excited to have seen a woman whom he was trying to describe to us.  He was using hand motions to try to demonstrate what she was wearing.  He would start at the top of his head and then go downward over his body in a flowing motion as he tried to tell us what she was wearing. 

"You know,"  he said, "It's one of those loooooooong things that hangs down."  

"Oh,"  we replied, "was she a Muslim?" 

"No,"  Aaron answered.   So we thought for a minute longer and then it hit us.  "Was she a nun?"  I asked.     "Yes, yes - she was a nun!"  Aaron replied excitedly.

So I asked if this nun was there alone and Aaron answered, "No.  She had her children with her." 

Oh.  Well, you see, Aaron - this could be a problem.   Never mind.  Not important.

Aaron has recently seen the trailer for the new movie that's out, The Mighty Macs.  It's about a coach who goes to an all-girl's Catholic high school to coach their basketball team.  He saw the trailer again yesterday and was excited to tell me about it.  He had been telling us about "some basketball movie" that's out but now he understood it better.

"Mom, I saw the trailer for that basketball movie!  It has those nuns in it.  You know - those WOMEN nuns!!" 

Well, Aaron, I do believe that the only nuns you'll ever hear of are WOMEN nuns.  But if he sees a monk I greatly anticipate his description of that!! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Not Always Roses

Sometimes I wonder how honest to be in my blog.  Not that I don't tell the truth about Aaron - he truly is all the things I write about.  Most of the time we laugh - or we roll our eyes in frustration when he's annoying.  Like last night at supper.  Andrew is home from college for Fall Break, so we wanted to catch up with his life.  Aaron likes dominating the conversation.  He very much fits the characteristic of Asperger's Syndrom that states "persons with Asperger's are extremely egocentric." And he's honest about it.  When he found out that Andrew was coming home he was disappointed and then told me, as he often has, "Mom, when Andrew's here all you want to do is talk to him.  I want you to talk to me."  We chuckle, Aaron and I, and talk about that.  But deep in his heart he means it.  Andrea has become a mother figure to him - Andrew is his competition.

So at supper last night he tried to dominate the conversation with talk of movies, movie characters, friends from his group, and whatever else crossed his mind.  We listened and then someone else talked awhile, and you could fairly feel Aaron nearly bursting with all the things that HE wanted to say.  He shoveled his food in but every little bit he let out an "Uh" as he tried to break into the conversation.  We just had to keep going, and then later pause to allow him to talk - about something totally irrelevant to what we were saying or irrelevant to life in general.  Global warming?  The Bermuda Triangle?  Really, Aaron?

This morning Aaron didn't actually shower but tried to convince me that he did.  When I challenged him he got mad, slammed my bedroom door, and then went back into the bathroom to shower.  Another fact of Asperger's - "Rage reactions/temper outbursts are common in response to stress/frustration."  The same could be said for me in response to Aaron sometimes.  Yet I know that I must be calm, because my escalation only causes him to escalate, and the result is NOT pleasant.  The break while he's gone to his group is good for both of us.  Later we will talk, and Aaron will be sorry.  He's already sorry - I could tell by how nice he was trying to be before we left for his group.  I love him so much - but on some occasions it's hard to like him. 

But this afternoon he'll bound in the door, telling me about the movie they went to watch and all the buttered popcorn he ate and whether he was also able to get a chocolate ice-cream concoction and wonder if he'll get a stomach ache and ask me if he's losing weight and remind me to tell him if we can play Skip-Bo later.  Life with Aaron - predictable, funny, frustrating. 

I do love that boy - who is really a man but to me is my special boy. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fashion Sense

Every time I turn around I'm finding something else to share about Aaron.  He sure does keep our lives.......well........interesting. 

Aaron has NO fashion sense.  Being cool or in style is totally foreign to him.  His only concern is comfort.  In most ways this is very refreshing.  Sometimes, as I've shared, it can be embarrassing.  And today it was downright funny!  It was cold outside this morning.  Aaron wanted to go out and relax with the mulch awhile (read my past blog about that unusual pastime).  When I walked out this is what I saw (he gave me permission to take his picture):








Look at the hat!   He just cracks me up sometimes! 

You Need a What?

Aaron has his very own unique way of describing things.  I've really never heard of anyone else who uses language the same way he does, although I'm sure that there are others.  It would be very amazing to get these persons together and just listen to them speak.  An aspect of Asperger's autism is that these individuals often have an impressive vocabulary, although not always understanding what they are saying.  Aaron's vocabulary isn't so impressive, necessarily, but he puts words together in very interesting and amusing ways. 

For instance, one day he said, "Mom, I saw one of those cars that the top of the hood comes down."  I knew right away that he was referring to a convertible.  He couldn't remember that word so he described the car instead in his own way.  We've become master interpreters of Aaron's language!

Yesterday he came home from his group carrying a slushie from Quik Trip.  As I mentioned in my blog awhile back, he told me that he got a "number 52" slushie at Quik Trip.  And guess what?  It really is a HUGE 52 ounce cup!  I've learned not to doubt him when he's very sure of these details.  Anyway, later he barreled into the kitchen and said:

"Mom, I'm thinking I need a hard pan thing for my slushie."  Even my refined interpreting skills were struggling with this one.  Then he walked over and grabbed this:








Of course!  A coaster!  I'm tucking that into my memory bank. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Good Morning

As soon as I got out of the shower this morning, I heard that familiar thump, thump, thump coming down the hall.  Then the knock on the door.  And, "Mom!  Are you fixing pancakes?"  Aaron never says good morning, or any other greeting.  He just launches into whatever is on his mind. 

So it was a good morning.  For Aaron:

Because he got his pancakes - more than a few.





And for me:

Because Aaron said, "Mom, it was colder last night so now I'm wearing my long pajama pants." 

Yes!  So thankful for the cold weather!

Bedtime

Aaron's bedtime routine hasn't varied much over the years, although on some nights he'll drag the process out as he remembers something he hasn't done or something he hasn't told us.  One thing he's always wanted to do before bed is to hug us, which really is sweet - especially coming from someone who has a hard time showing love and emotion.  When he was little he would back up to us for a hug.  It was so funny to hug him backwards, but that was how he was comfortable.  I remember Gary's mom, especially, getting such a laugh out of that.  Now he actually gives us a real hug - progress!

He used to hug ONLY in his room.  Yes, no other place was hug-worthy to him.  I remember one night not too awfully long ago when I tried to hug him in the bathroom just before he brushed his teeth.  He knew I wasn't going to wait for him to brush before hugging because I was tired and was going to bed, so he put his brush down and walked (or thumped!) back up the hall to his room.  He turned around and waited for me to come in his room to hug him.  That was all - just a hug and then he thumped back up the hall to finish brushing his teeth.  Amazing!

I walked in his room this past Monday night to find most of his covers on the floor.  "Mom, can you help me put my covers back on my bed.  They weren't straight quite all the way."  Well, certainly, Aaron can't go to bed without his covers being just right (remember my Order of the Covers story?) so I don't even argue that point anymore.  I just helped him put the covers back on and made sure EVERY wrinkle was out, just the way he wanted it, and he could then rest. 

Practically every night he must also ask if it's going to rain.  Some nights he'll forget to ask and soon we'll hear him thump, thump, thump up the hall.  Often he'll just barge right in to our bedroom, or sometimes remember to just stand at our door, and say, "Mom!  Do you think it's going to rain tonight?"  I'll answer the question and he happily thumps back up the hall to his room.  Some nights I just tell him about the rain chances before he asks, but he might still thump up the hall and ask, "So Mom, did you say you don't think it'll rain tonight?"  Sigh.  He does love rain.

Last night he came in our bedroom and said, "Mom, can you fix me pancakes tomorrow for breakfast?"  I replied, "Well, I'll see if I have time."  So he changed his tactic a little.  "Mom, can you fix me a FEW pancakes for breakfast?"   Maybe I could manage a few, right?  So I told him that maybe I could fix a FEW pancakes.  He rethought that real quick and said, "Mom, I mean can you fix me some pancakes tomorrow?"  HaHa!  Let's leave out that "few" business and go for more!!

Some things about bedtime I just wish he wouldn't bother to tell me.  The other night it was warm and so after telling him goodnight I heard that familiar thump, thump, thump up the hall.  He actually knocked on our bedroom door this time and then said, "Mom!  It's hot so I'm not going to wear much clothes to bed."   And why do you think I want to know this, Aaron? 

Good night, Aaron.  No, it's not going to rain.  And I'm personally glad that we already hugged good night. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lessons From the Carrot Patch

Gary and I were doing lots of outdoor work this weekend, partly because it was our neighborhood clean-up time and partly because the coming winter is urging us to ready our gardens before the cold weather hits. On Saturday I had been clipping and yanking out the dead growth in the flower beds. There was plenty to do and the piles were filling up our big outdoor trash can quickly. I had decided that if I had time I should visit the vegetable garden to see what I could pull up there. It's certainly time to be done with it, tidy it up for winter, and begin dreaming of a hopefully better vegetable season next year.

For several days I had been thinking about what I would try to clean up over the weekend and it hit me that I hadn't even checked the status of our carrot patch. I had walked by our dying garden several times lately and had seen the sparse, stunted growth of the carrot plants. They were very unimpressive and hardly merited a second thought from me. The familiar lacy growth did remind me of the time several years ago that we first planted carrots. I was so excited about pulling up carrots that I became very impatient and was checking every few days to see if any had grown underground. One evening Gary, the kids, and I were outside when I stepped once again in the garden to bend over and do a little digging in the carrots. I gasped when I saw a large, orange protrusion in the dirt. A huge carrot!! I scooped back more dirt, reached down to pull it out, and discovered a very large and very fake plastic carrot. And out in the yard was some very loud laughing from my very amused family! They got me!


I grabbed my garden bucket from the garage, stepped over our little used-to-be electric wire fence into the garden, and walked over to the small carrot patch. We had planted quite a few carrots this year but many of them had died in the brutal heat and the awful drought of this past summer. I wasn't at all hopeful that these measly few plants would produce anything of significance. They were hardly worth the effort, I assumed. Plus I remembered the beautiful, lush potato patch from earlier in the summer and how its yield was laughable and disappointing. Surely I could expect no more from this puny little row of struggling carrots. I bent over and gave a pull - and was surprised to see a pretty orange carrot slip out of the dirt. Well! After several more pulls and several more carrots, I was greatly encouraged. Certainly these were not state-fair-worthy carrots, but they were far better than what I had expected to find. Gary helped finish out the row with a pitchfork and we ended up with a healthy little pile of carrots. Despite their small size and their dirty exteriors, they were a delight to us - an unexpected gift at the end of our difficult growing season. And guess what I had just bought the day before when I shopped for groceries? Yes - a bag of carrots! O ye of little faith, I thought.


I must admit that I am so often attracted to what is outwardly appealing, like the lush growth of our potatoes that fooled us into believing we had a bumper crop of delicious spuds. In reality they were only showy to the eye but had no substance and no real growth. It can be so tempting to participate in the ministries that are evident to all but to neglect the ones that are considered menial or boring. Or to not give much time or attention to people who are marginal to us - who maybe even annoy us. Can we lend a helping hand; make a phone call; fix a meal; send a card; clean a toilet? Sometimes God takes away the up-front, public ministries to put us in a place where we struggle; where our efforts seem puny and small, unnoticed and unimportant. Everyone gathers around the public persona but the unimpressive one is rarely given a second thought. Who wants to be a little dirty carrot when we could be a big, beautiful tomato that everyone looks at with pleasure? But God knows the work that is being done away from the public eye, the glory that is being given to Him through the efforts of those that He is using to quietly further His kingdom work. Paul talked to the Corinthians about this in I Corinthians 1:26-29: "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." All ministry with pure motives is valuable to God, but if our lives are changed for whatever reason and we find ourselves feeling like our work is sparse and we struggle with insignificance, may we be faithful to grow and serve where God has placed us. Remember that the work God is doing underground will one day shine for His glory and praise.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Toilet Paper

Persons with autism are easily overwhelmed by change.  Routine and sameness are very important to them.  Growing up in a military family brought many changes to Aaron's life and he's learned to adapt very well.  But sometimes it's the little things that get him flustered.  For instance, one day I noticed that the water in our guest bathroom faucet was coming out at an angle instead of straight down.  When Aaron got home that afternoon, he ran in there to use the bathroom and when he turned the water on to wash his hands, he came running out saying, "Mom!!  The water in the bathroom is bent!!"  The bent water coming from the faucet was a topic of conversation for some time after that. 

Therefore, when I bought a different brand of toilet paper a couple weeks ago the first thing I thought of was the fact that Aaron would not only notice the change but he would certainly comment.  I put the first of the new rolls out and when he used it yesterday it did - uh - leave an impression, so to speak.  Here's the old toilet paper:




And here's the new toilet paper:






And Aaron's comment:  "Mom!  That new toilet paper is weird!"   
Me:  "So what's weird about it, Aaron?"
Aaron:  "Well, it's got lines on it.  I've never seen toilet paper with lines on it.  That's weird!"


I assured him that the new toilet paper was just fine and he assured me that he would use it.  He better!  I'm hoping that this uncertainty about the lined toilet paper will soon pass and will come out just fine in the end.  Puns intended.  Sorry.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lessons From the Potato Patch

This is the first year that Gary and I have planted potatoes. Gary was around home grown potatoes when he was a boy and so he knew how to plant our spuds. I also set out to research and find out as much as I could about planting potatoes. I bought the seed potatoes at a local mercantile and asked questions there; I googled and read some items on-line; and most importantly, I asked other experienced potato growers for advice. And so in the spring Gary and I planted a long row and a half row of tender red potatoes. We were very excited to see the first green shoots break through the soil, and our excitement continued as the small growths became large and lush. I could imagine all the delicious potatoes growing just under the mounded soil and couldn't wait to dig them up and cook them in various ways. I wondered where I would store the heavy yield that I fully expected to find.

I asked questions as I thought that our harvest was near and had other gardeners confirm that it was definitely time for Gary and I to dig up our crop. One friend said that potatoes are her favorite crop to harvest as she pulls up the plants and has potatoes spill out of the mounds, and then finds even more as she digs in the soft dirt. And so one morning before the heat was overbearing I anxiously went to the garden with my tools and my big bucket. I thought I might need two buckets, or even more, but thought I'd only have time to fill one on this morning. I carefully dug and found nothing. A little more digging and I found one little potato, then later another little one, but no more. I continued to dig until I reached the next plant, then gently pulled it up as I expected the potatoes to roll out all around my feet. Nothing. Hmmmm. This process continued for as long as I was able to dig that morning. I walked into the house and looked down at those pathetic few potatoes in the big bucket. Surely the rest of the mounds would yield more that that! But sadly, Gary finished the digging on Saturday and had the same results. I stood and watched him dig, again holding the bucket that I hoped to fill, but we were disappointed once again. What had happened to our potatoes? We had planted carefully, had watered, had fertilized. We had beautiful green, bushy growth that led us to believe that underneath the ground were dozens of delicious potatoes waiting to be unearthed. However, underneath the deceptive and beautiful greenery was almost nothing of substance.



I've thought about this experience for several days. My mind first went to the lives of some along the way that have touched our lives. And in this case, not necessarily in a positive way. We have known and ministered with people who have every outward evidence of being mature believers in Christ. They say the right words, participate in many right activities, help others, etc., etc. But somewhere along the way their true colors show. When you dig deeply into their lives you find hypocrisy with no real fruit. At times certain ones have brought hurt and disappointment into our lives. But I also, and more importantly, remembered the advice Gary has given me and our children many times. He has wisely said, "Patty, look at your own heart and let God deal with others." How many times have I exhibited lush, beautiful outward growth but inwardly I am struggling to produce fruit? Am I allowing the Spirit to produce His fruit in my life or am I trying to manufacture it myself? If you dig deep enough into my life, will you find fruit or will you find the dirt of unforgiveness, bitterness, or other sinful issues? It's easy to be like the Pharisees and show outward growth but have inward barrenness. God spoke to His people through Isaiah and said, "Because this people draw near with their words, and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts from Me......the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be concealed." May I have a true and faithful heart so that I will consist of more than just the outward greenery of words, actions, and lip service! I pray that I will have deep inner fruit that will manifest itself outwardly for the glory of God!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mom! Today we............

I never know what Aaron will bombard me with the second he barges in the door when he gets home from his group.  He never says "Hi Mom!"  Instead he immediately starts telling me something about his day.  Like one day last week, as soon as the door burst open, it was:

"Mom!  Today we went to the east mall and I got a 12 foot sub!!"    [Wow!  Do they make them that big?]

"I got all the meat on it like I always do."    [A club.]    "Yeah, a club!"

"And I got that white stuff on it...............you know.........."     [Mayonnaise]

"Yeah, mayonnaise!"     "And then when I was eating it some of the meat went down a wrong pipe on my throat, and it made me cough!"     [Did someone call a plumber, I'm wondering?]

But I decided not to ask him that.  Some questions just spoil the moment.  Wonder what I'll hear today?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Colors

My dad was color blind, and that gene passed to his daughters to be possibly passed on to our sons.  Only two of us daughters have sons - Kathryn and I.  Kathryn's son, Matt, is color blind.  And of my two sons, only Aaron is color blind.  I remember how as children we loved to ask my dad what color this item or that item was.  We were amazed at dinner, for instance, when he couldn't tell the difference between the colors of the peas and the carrots.  Or we'd tease him in some way about colors.  He was the most patient dad on the planet!  Mom would hang his pants and shirts together, matching sets, so he could just grab a set and go.  He knew that they always matched and that he would look coordinated, not disastrous like it would have been if he was left to put them together.  When we were older and Mom would travel with her job, we'd threaten to mix Dad's clothes up if he wasn't nice to us.  Those were empty threats but we sure had fun giving him a hard time and having him play along with us. 

I also remember how my Mom wore this Avon pink lipstick with matching nail polish.  Dad finally asked her to stop wearing it because pink looked blue to him, which meant that her blue lips and nails were a little eerie looking!  One day, when we lived in Germany, we were driving down the autobahn and we passed a bright pink truck.  Little Aaron yelled out, "Look at the BLUE truck."  I knew then that he was color blind. 

The other day Aaron bought a huge bag of Skittles and brought it home.  Often he likes to take a handful of Skittles and organize them by color.  He leans way down to examine them in an effort to match them correctly.  This morning he said, "Mom, I have a hard time with some of the colors in the Skittles."  So I asked him which colors are hard (though I knew) and he said, "Just the green, orange, red, and purple."  Well, that just about covers it - only yellow is left!  I asked him to sort some for me while I fixed him some breakfast, and he proceeded to lean over his little pile and begin separating them.  And sure enough, there in his pile of purple Skittles were two stray red ones that seemed just the same color to Aaron as the purple.  He does a good job, though, and can compensate just like my dad did.




Dad could see yellow, too, and blue.  So Mom would major on blue decorations at Christmas - a show of her love for Dad.  And yellow roses or other yellow flowers were a favorite. Mom always planted plenty of yellow miniature roses or other yellow flowers for him to enjoy.  When Dad died, though, Mom made sure there was a beautiful arrangement of multi-colored flowers adorning his coffin because now he could see and enjoy all the colors, not just the blue and yellow.  Another example of her love shown for him.

Funny how something like Skittles can lead to such sweet, unexpected memories. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hair and Fur

Aaron was in the kitchen chattering with me as I fixed supper awhile ago.  He saw me put corn on the cob on the counter, walked over and looked at it and said, "Mom, why does that corn have hair on it?"  HaHa!  The world through Aaron's eyes!






Funny, though.........last week he was talking about his legs having fur.  Now he says that corn on the cob has hair.  Is he confused or what?!

Mouthwash

Oral hygiene can be an issue with Aaron.  Not can be - it IS an issue with Aaron.  Some of his meds over the years have made his gums swell at times, for instance.  His lack of fine motor skills and manual dexterity make even brushing his teeth difficult for him.  Also, he thinks that the harder he brushes then the cleaner his teeth will be, so his gums suffer from being brushed too hard.  Don't even get me started on the difficulty with flossing!  Even the taste of toothpaste, too, has been an issue with him over the years.

So when his hygienist told us a few months ago that Aaron should start using mouth wash to assist in his oral health, I was very skeptical that he would agree to it once he tasted it.  Even opening the bottle on the Scope I bought has been a nightmare.  The lid has to be squeezed and then turned. This was amazingly difficult for Aaron to accomplish because of his motor skills issues.  You just had to have been there to see me trying to show him how to do it.  Now he just grabs the bottle and uses brute force to open it, then laughs like he's just killed a  mammoth for dinner! 

But he IS using the mouthwash every night, for which I'm very grateful and surprised.  He came downstairs some time back, though, and said, "Mom, that stuff I have to use in my mouth at night is very SPICY!!"   You know, I guess spicy describes it very well. 





But I thought for sure I bought the mint flavored, not the chipotle. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Aaron's Descriptions

Aaron has some very unique and sometimes comical ways of describing things.  Some of his word pictures are really very sensible.  The other day we were outside with our Great Dane and Aaron said, "Mom, Jackson doesn't like those pointy things on a pine tree in a V section." 

Those WHAT??!!

And he repeated, "Those pointy things on a pine tree in a V section." 

He could see that I was still clueless, so he showed me:



PINE NEEDLES!!!!!

Lessons From the Dead Bugs

We soon learned after we bought this house 12 years ago that along with the house came some unusual bugs. Well, unusual to us since we had never lived with this particular species before that we know of. As our first summer here began to unfold, I did some research and found out that these are very common Box Elder Bugs. They are black and grey with a splash of red. Box Elders proliferate like crazy so as the weeks of summer go by, the number of bugs increases dramatically. These bugs live very comfortably in the dryness and heat of a Kansas summer, so this year they've done particularly well. They thrive in our front flower beds among the mulch and down in the dead leaves that hide behind the landscape bricks. And they totally love our Golden Rain Tree right outside the front yard. Thankfully, Box Elder Bugs don't bite, sting, fly annoyingly around our heads, or eat our flowers. However, they ARE annoying simply by their sheer number. Hundreds and hundreds of them congregate on the sidewalk, porch, tree, flower beds, front door - you get the picture. They even climb my legs while I water or weed the flowers, and in my book that's beyond annoying.

  So I bought the spray. Gary and I hesitate to use poison but desperate times require desperate measures! Gary did the spraying one evening after supper, and the next day when I went outside to water I was amazed at the spray's effectiveness. Where yesterday there had been hundreds of active Box Elder Bugs, today there was stillness. I have to say that I was happy with each little dead bug body that I saw laying on the ground or on the porch. As I watered the Impatiens under the Golden Rain Tree I was surprised at the hundreds of dead bugs laying on the ground around the tree trunk. Piles of bugs lay there, poisoned and dead, totally ineffective after the poison hit their bodies.




This scene brought to my mind a very uncomfortable truth. I thought of the hundreds of people that come across my path. Some of them I don't know at all; some are mere acquaintances; some are casual friends; some are dear friends; some are family. How many times have I damaged someone by the words that I say? Are my words like the poison that killed the Box Elder Bugs, full of bitterness or hatefulness? Am I irritated with the receptionist at the doctor's office, silent with the stressed Wal-Mart cashier, or hesitant to take the time to talk to a lonely customer that tries to engage me in conversation in the store aisle? Do I gossip with my friends or speak words of bitterness that allows others to continue in their own hurts and frustrations instead of moving beyond the hurt and growing into Christlikeness? Do I encourage those that are tired or do I drag them down with my own issues? As I open my mouth every day, will I spray poison with my words or will I edify and bless? When I look around at the effect I've had on others, will I see dead and lifeless bodies laying on the ground? Or will I see the light of hope and blessing in people's lives because of the words that I have spoken? Paul said in Ephesians 4:29 to "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." Oh Lord, may my words today and every day bring hope and blessing instead of poison and death!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Aaron and HIS Weight

Those of you who have followed my life with Aaron on Facebook for awhile know that he often talks about his weight.  He asks - a lot - if I think he's losing weight.  One of his "famous" sayings from a long time ago was, "Mom, do you think I'm almost losing weight?"   Well, now, how am I supposed to know if you're ALMOST losing weight?  But when I posted this, many of us girls decided that this would be our new mantra.    [How's the weight loss going?  You know, I'm almost losing weight!!  Yep, almost there - almost losing that weight!]   Sigh..............story of my life..............ALMOST losing weight!

Aaron's conversation with me today was so typical of him.  He came bounding in the house after his group dropped him off and began immediately telling me about his day.  It went like this:
       
"Mom, I went to Quik Trip and you know those Corn Dogs?  Well, I bought four Corn Dogs.  Then I got a Slushee...........a number 52."    (Does he mean a 52 ounce?  Do they even sell 52 ounce drinks?  Maybe a 32?  Who knows?)     Continuing:

"The Corn Dogs came to $5.00.  With the Slushee it became $5.63.  Is it good that I bought Corn Dogs instead of candy?"    (Well........sort of.............but FOUR Corn Dogs?!)
    
"So, Mom, do you think I'm losing weight?"    (It's really hard to tell right now, Aaron.)

"Hey, Mom, can I have some of that vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce on top?" 

 Me:  "No, Aaron, not after FOUR Corn Dogs, plus a number 52 Slushee.  And all that ice cream with chocolate sauce won't help you lose weight!" 

Aaron:  "Oh.  Do you think I'm losing weight?"

Round and around and around he goes..................and where his weight will be, nobody knows! 

Joking With Aaron

In case you don't know by now, I enjoy laughter.  I can be as serious as the next person, but I come from a family that has always been full of humor, laughter, and joy.  We pulled tons of practical, innocent jokes when I was growing up - many of them at my dear Dad's expense.  And he loved it!  My mother is the Queen of Puns, and still her humor shows through her progressing age issues. 

One aspect of Asperger's Syndrome is that these individuals often do not understand jokes, irony, or metaphors.  Aaron is no exception.  He does better now than he used to at understanding jokes or other's sense of humor, but it's still a challenge for him.  A conversation between us a few months ago illustrates this point very well. 

We were driving to meet his group and Aaron excitedly said to me, "Mom!  Yesterday in Wal-Mart I saw a woman that looked just like you, and I thought it was you!!"   Deciding to make a little funny joke, I said, "So Aaron, she must have been real skinny and pretty."   He looked at me in disbelief, gave a "Humpf", and said, "I said she looked like YOU!!!" 

I'm thankful for the good sense of humor God has given me.  Thick skin helps, too.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

HGTV

Aaron's decided to sit downstairs with us for a few minutes before bed.  HGTV was on, and Aaron said, "So HGTV means Home Grown Television?" 

Well................kinda.

The Coupon Pro!

Aaron loves cutting out my coupons every Sunday when we have some in the newspaper.  It's been his special job for years.  He doesn't like me to cut them out because, according to his expert opinion, I don't do it right.  I will share with you his version of right, and show some pictures of his method.  He's detailed and structured, for sure, and what would take me minutes takes him a WHOLE lot longer.

First, he must have the correct set-up.  He used to sit on the floor but now uses a card table, which is much easier on his back.  He has just the right scissors and holds them just the right Aaron-way.  He makes sure that all his items are around him that he wants at that time, which often is his carry-around clock, maybe napkins or toothpicks if he's eating a snack, perhaps a drink, etc.




He cuts the coupons on the dotted lines just as closely on the line as he can.  That's what drives him nuts about my cutting - I'm not as careful about those dotted lines as he is!!  He places the actual coupon very carefully into the plastic container that I have for them until I can sort them.  They aren't just tossed in the container.  He has a method for placing them there and for how they overlap.  He takes other certain pieces of the page, then, and puts them in a particular wastebasket. Those are often coupons for special offers that he knows I won't use, such as cigarettes.  He cuts some of the paper into narrow strips, holds the strip over another trash can, and painstakingly cuts it into little pieces.  He likes to watch them fall into the trash can.  Then if there is a larger piece of the page left he places it into another stack to be thrown away in the kitchen trash can. 




It's quite a process and one that he is very serious about.  One night several years ago he was clipping coupons on his bed.  I went in to say goodnight and saw a special offer coupon that I wouldn't use laying off to the side.  He hadn't seen it, so I picked it up and purposely put it in the wrong container.  He, of course, noticed it but didn't say anything.  After I left the room, I stood outside his door and watched him through the slightly open door.  He stared at the misplaced coupon for a few seconds and then his hand started to reach for it.  He moved his hand back, then went forward again, back again, forward again.  He did this a few times and finally quickly reached in, snatched the offending coupon out, and put it in the right container!  I don't think he could have slept until he righted that wrong! 



The offers or coupons he knows I don't use



The little pieces he cuts out of strips of paper



Persons with Asperger's Syndrome tend to engage in rituals, and I would say that Aaron's coupon cutting is indeed a ritual.  It's also good practice for his fine motor skills that are lacking.  And helps me practice patience as I wait for my coupons and don't dare bother his set-up until he's ALL done! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Star Wars Game (Medium)

Aaron's birthday is coming up in November.  Then, of course, comes Christmas.  So every time he starts telling me about a movie or a game that he wants I tell him to write it on his gift list.  I also tell him to write down the name of the store where he saw the item.  Today he told me about a Star Wars game set that he wants and so I reminded him to put it on his list. 

He kept talking about it and so I asked him, "What game is it again?"  And he said, "Well, it's a Star Wars game set and it's in a medium box."  Then he used his hands to describe the size as he said, "One set is in a large box like this......(hand motions for large size)................but this game I want is in a medium box like this................(hand motions for medium size)."       Well, as helpful as this is, Aaron - I need more info than that.

"What store did you find it in, Aaron?"  And he said, "It's in the east."   OK, that narrows it down even further.  I need to go to east Wichita and search for a Star Wars game set in a medium box. 

I might make it home by Christmas.  Not sure yet. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Wristwatch

Aaron LOVES watches and clocks!  He's very particular about his wrist watch.  He wants one that has numbers, not digital, which is good.  And he likes it to have a display that shows the day and date. 

Aaron doesn't care one little bit about fashion or being cool or in style.  This attitude is refreshing, in a sense, but can also be embarrassing sometimes, too.  For instance, it's a little weird when he hikes his pants way up to his chest in the middle of Wal-Mart while making a huge production of tucking in his shirt.  Quite a show for those who have the privilege of being nearby to see it!  Or stretching really big and really loud, with his belly sticking WAY out - again, in the middle of a store, parking lot, waiting room...........he's not particular. 

So I wanted you to see how he wears his wrist watch.  He used to wear it down on his wrist like the rest of the world does, but now for some reason he wears it way up on his arm.  No amount of persuasion from us has caused him to move it back down to where it belongs.  Once again, Aaron follows his own rules and goes happily on his way.  Maybe we could learn something from him after all! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Keeping Me Company

This afternoon after Aaron got home from his day group, I decided to vacuum out the dirty van.  He and Jackson decided to join me.




I didn't think that Jackson would hang around because he doesn't usually like the vacuum cleaner.  He hides from it in the house, but in the van he was as relaxed as could be.  Maybe it was because I didn't have a big attachment and hose on it.  Or maybe it was because Aaron was petting him and keeping him company. 




Anyway, it was sweet to see them together like this.  But I think Aaron is hanging around Jackson too much because he told me, "Mom, do you remember that I had a bandaid here on my leg?  Well, today Cody took it off for me and when he pulled it off there was a bunch of my fur on it!" 

You better not shed in the house, Aaron!!

Genetics

I don't know......................

          Sometimes I do wonder how genetics plays a part in things.......................



AARON

ME!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lessons From the Injured Bird

When Aaron returns from his day group at the end of his day, he almost always comes in the garage door. One day last week I happened to be in the living room and saw him running toward the front door as soon as he got out of the van. Oh, he's probably just in a mood to ring the doorbell multiple times, I thought. So I opened the door before he had time to push the buzzer and when Aaron saw me he breathlessly said, "Mom, there's a bird on the porch!" Stepping outside, I looked around and saw the poor bird behind the bench, huddled against the side of the house. All the commotion and noise scared him, so he lifted himself up and began to hop away. That's when I saw that he had some sort of neck injury. It was pitiful to watch him because he couldn't lift his head. His injury caused his head to hang and just dangle there as he hopped off the side of the porch. Aaron wanted to rescue him but I knew that we couldn't save this bird's life. I sadly watched him settle down behind our bushes and then went on in the house to explain to Aaron why we needed to leave the bird alone.

Later, after Gary and I had eaten supper, I quietly led Gary outside to the bushes and the bird. We didn't want our Great Dane to find the bird, and didn't want Aaron to see him again. There he was, huddled down in the same position as when I had left him earlier. We didn't want to disturb him as we stood there looking at his beautiful coloring. Finally the bird heard us and once again tried to move away. It was really heartbreaking to see how his head hung down limply. We felt so helpless. Gary noted his coloring and that night was able to find out on the internet that our bird was a certain species of woodpecker. We didn't want to think about the bird left out there all night and what might happen to him. Seeing nature up close at times like this is pretty distressing.

As soon as it was light enough the next morning I slipped outside and stood on the porch. Sure enough, our woodpecker was still there but he was dead. We weren't surprised, really, and it was actually a relief to know that he hadn't been grabbed and tortured by a predator. Yet we wished that somehow we could have helped him.


As I thought about this experience with the dying bird I was reminded of Matthew 10:29 where Jesus said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father." The Moore family weren't the only ones who knew about the unfortunate death of this anonymous bird. Our Heavenly Father also knew and even beyond the knowing, He cared. To think that our Father in Heaven, God of the universe, would care about our dead woodpecker was a beautiful picture to me of an even greater truth. God carries that care over to me, in an even greater measure than the bird. Continuing on in Matthew 10:30-31, Jesus said, "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows." My God cares for me, even numbering the hairs on my head! He cares about my hurts; He cares about my disappointments; He cares about my pain; He cares about my worries; He cares about my children; He cares about my loneliness. And in I Peter 5:7, Peter reminded the believers to "cast all your care on Him, because He cares for you." God WANTS me to throw my cares on Him - to let Him handle my anxieties - because He CARES! No matter how insignificant I feel or how scared I feel or how pushed aside I feel or anything else - I am told to throw that care to Jesus and He will care for it because He cares for me. What a promise! What a God! And what a lesson I was reminded of from our little dying bird.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More About Movies

For quite a long time, whenever Aaron would get a new movie, he would put it in a certain place among his rows of DVDs.  Then he would go back to the first movie and start watching all of his movies over again until he got to the new one.  If he received another new movie, the process would start all over again.  Honestly, this procedure of his wore me out but there was no need in trying to change his ways.  It didn't hurt anything or bother anyone.  Again, it would be many months before he watched most of his new movies - just like reading his new books.  Now he doesn't have that much structure about his new movies.  There are some that take a long time for him to watch but I think he finally realized that it would take a couple years to watch the new ones if he kept doing this. 

Also, he doesn't grasp the give and take of normal conversations like you and I do.  He likes some of that, and enjoys some plots of movies.  But he really likes the action movies or the ones with huge genetically altered spiders, or rats, or bats..........you get the idea.  He just finished a movie about a gigantic shark and octopus.  He was so excited to show me the scene where the shark bites the Golden Gate Bridge in half.  "Mom, isn't that cool?!"  Uh, yeah, Aaron.  And no, don't ask me to watch that movie with you.  I've had enough of that for awhile, believe me!

His group goes to the movies every Friday.  One day, right after The Bucket List came out, he came home and was talking to me about his day.  I asked him what movie they went to see and he replied, "I don't know.  Something about a bucket."  That was the extent of what he got out of that movie!  But on and on he'll go about the enormous, ice age, prehistoric, first frozen and now thawed out, huger than huge, meaner than mean...............shark.  Really?  Go figure.

Aaron's Books

In telling you about how Aaron watches movie credits, I decided to tell you about his book reading ritual.  Aaron doesn't read books with a plot or a story-line...............at least he hasn't read those in years.  Social interaction is very hard for him and so books with human lives and conversations bore him.  Instead, he enjoys books of facts, such as these Handy Answer Books.  He has quite a few of these books and I continue to look for new ones that he doesn't have yet. 


When he receives a new book in a series, he will do one of two things.  He will sometimes go back to the very first book in the series and read the books all over again, saving the new one until last.  Or he will put the new book on the bottom of the stack of that series, even if it's not numbered in any particular order, and continue reading from where he is at the time he got the book until he reaches the new one.  Either way, he usually has new books for many months before he reads them.  Actually, sometimes it's a year or longer before he reads the new book.  One reason for that is because he will only read at night before bed.  Again, the ritual and the routine of his life.  Gary and I have tried to get him to read during the day but he will NOT. 

One morning he told me, "Mom, the book I'm reading now is strange."  So I asked him what was strange about it and he told me, "Well, all it says right now is http.www. and then some other things."  Then I had him show me and I saw that he was reading the very back of the book, under the "Further Reading" section.  I questioned him the other night and found that he's still reading that section of his books - but not the index, he said.  To Aaron, this is part of the book as much as the credits are part of a movie - and so he will read every word. 



No wonder his reading at night makes him sleepy! 

The Credits

I walked upstairs to get ready for bed last night and found Aaron in his room, propped up on his bed, and watching a movie on his portable DVD player.  His gaze was fixed intently on the screen and he didn't look at me when I stepped into his room to tell him that I was going to bed.  In fact, without looking at me he held his right hand up and gave me the peace sign - his way of telling me that he hears me but is focused and wants me to be quiet. 

I did a few things and then went back into his room to give him a goodnight hug, which he wants every night.  He was still focused on that screen and so I walked around the bed, expecting to see that the movie was at a very pivotal point.  As I glanced down at the screen, I saw that Aaron was intently watching................the credits!  Yes - THE.  CREDITS!!!   We know that he does this but when I see him actually watching with such concentration something that most of us disregard - well, it just makes me laugh.  He totally doesn't understand why I think it's funny.  For crying out loud, Mom, the credits are part of the movie!  And when Aaron watches a movie, he watches the WHOLE movie - down to the tiny, miniscule print at the very, very end.  I've actually seen him pause the credits to go do something, and then when he returns he rewinds to the beginning of the credits so that he can watch them again from the beginning.  So amazing!

I just wish he was that thorough when he showers or brushes his teeth.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mud on the Lake

Aaron's word pictures and descriptions of things that he sees and hears are interesting, funny, compelling, etc.  For instance, lots of our lakes and ponds have algae growing on them right now because of the heat and lack of rain.  Today he exclaimed, "Mom, we passed by a lake and there was mud growing on it!" 

I tell you, Kansas can grow anything!! 

Meetings and Weird Tacos!

Every year at this time we have 2 annual meetings with Aaron's case manager and others involved in his day services.  We have to go over all his info to see if things have changed, if he's happy where he is, etc.  We are very appreciative of the awesome professionals that we have around us that manage Aaron's care.  They really seem to be genuinely interested in what's best for him, not in what the state may suggest or want.  We've been very blessed and so far things have worked out beautifully for Aaron.

We met for lunch at Applebees today to go over Aaron's Person Centered Support Plan.  I met a new assistant from Paradigm, Barb, and she was so kind.  I asked her how Paradigm manages to get such awesome, caring staff and she told me that it starts at the top.  The woman who manages Paradigm is very loving and empathetic, and makes sure that she staff she hires is the same.  What a difference it makes!  And Aaron's case manager, Carissa, is also very caring.  She doesn't want to push state directives on us but makes sure that she can do whatever possible to keep us in the good situation that we're in now. 

Aaron asked over and over if he was going to have to leave Paradigm.  That's his biggest fear.  He's even had dreams about that!  Poor guy!  It must be hard to have others making decisions about your life and wonder if you'll be made to leave the place that you love.  We kept assuring him that he was staying there but he kept asking anyway. 

He surprised me and got chicken strips instead of the super, duper biggest bacon cheeseburger that he could find - like he usually does.  But first he had to make sure that the chicken was boneless, and that he could have onion rings instead of fries.  Being assured of a yes to both of those questions, he happily ordered.  The cook forgot to make the onion rings so Aaron got the original fries that came with the chicken, and then a few minutes later got the onion rings as well.  Wow!!  He ate them both, of course, and even wanted to finish my salad when I was slow in eating it.  He actually slid my plate over in front of him when I wasn't looking!  And I slid it right back where it belonged! 

While we finished our meeting, signing forms and discussing issues, Aaron was becoming antsy and anxious to leave.  He was reading the menus and advertisements on the table, and then excitedly said, "Mom, they have Women Tacos!!  What are Women Tacos?!"  What?  Women Tacos?!   So I asked him to show me and he pointed to the menu.  WONTON Tacos!  So glad we cleared that up!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Order of the Covers

Helping Aaron change his sheets today reminded me once again of another characteristic of Aspergers - an insistence on sameness.  Aaron wants every wrinkle pulled out of his covers when we're putting them on his bed, and there is one smaller blanket that must be centered.  Not only that, but he likes several blankets, in addition to his sheet, and they must be put on his bed in a particular order. 

I remember once, several years ago, that as I helped him change his sheets I decided that there was a better order for the blankets to be put on the bed.  My order made it easier to tuck the sheet and blankets under the mattress.  So I matter-of-factly showed him my plan as I changed up his plan for the Order of the Covers.  He said he didn't like it.  So very patiently I showed him again that my Order of the Covers was a good Order of the Covers.  The same covers were included as always but in a different order.  Aaron stood there pondering and the only word that he heard, as I would soon discover, was the word "different."  Not the word "better" or the word "good," but only the word "different" - which is not a favorite word of Aaron's.  He complied with my plan at that time, and so we completed the bedmaking with the new Order of the Covers.  I trotted happily on my way without giving that exchange a further thought. 

Until the next morning.  Aaron usually makes his bed before leaving the house, but something that next morning didn't seem right about his bed and so I took a look.  AH HAH!!  After we had gone to bed the night before, Aaron got up and changed the Order of the Covers back to HIS Order of the Covers.  "Well, well, well," I thought.  Two can play this game!  And I changed the Order of the Covers back to MY Order of the Covers.  HaHa!  That'll show him!  Neither of us said a word that night before bed, but don't you know that when I got up the next morning he had changed the Order of the Covers back to HIS Order of the Covers again?!  We went back and forth then for several days in our silent battle over the Order of the Covers.  Finally, though, I faced reality.  Did I really want to spend the rest of my life remaking his bed every morning?  Was this issue really worth that?  Nah, I didn't think it was. 

I conceded.  He won the Battle of the Order of the Covers.  Good grief, I may as well admit it.  He won the whole war!