Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Rolls (cont.)

This morning I had the usual rush getting out the door to take Aaron to meet his group.  I didn't return home until nearly 1:00.  As I was cleaning the kitchen, I opened the door where our trash can is to throw something away, and there it was.  The box that held the 18 rolls.  The EMPTY box that once held the 18 rolls. 

Of course Aaron ate the remaining rolls this morning.  What did I expect?  I wondered how many there were.

Later this evening, Aaron came into the family room and said, "Mom!  This morning I ate the rolls for breakfast."   I told him that yes, I had noticed that, and then I asked, "So how many rolls did you eat?"

And he answered, "The rest of them!!"

I had to laugh.  Aaron, I KNOW you ate the rest of them!  But just how many was that?!

"Oh, there were four," he matter-of-factly replied.  "They were good, too, and now all the rolls are gone." 

But he knows now how to remedy that situation with the next trip to Wal-Mart!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Rolls

Aaron loves rolls - yeast rolls in particular - but nearly any kind of bread is a huge hit with him.  If we have rolls for a meal, we usually end up hiding them after we eat.  If we don't, then Aaron will sneak into the kitchen to take the rolls a few at a time until they are all gone - usually by bedtime.  It's so frustrating to go into the kitchen, ready to pop a roll into the microwave, only to find the empty plastic storage bag on the counter.  Aaron!!!

This morning Aaron asked if he could have some extra money since his group was going shopping, probably to Wal-Mart.  So instead of his usual 5 dollars, I gave him 7 - and some change.  But I warned him, "Aaron, do NOT go and buy a bunch of candy with that money.  You don't need a huge bag of Skittles or several boxes of Mike and Ikes."  Then I urged him to buy something good for lunch.  I said, "You know, Aaron, you could go to the deli and buy some real food for lunch."  He agreed - but with Aaron I never know.

He bounded in the house this evening, holding a Wal-Mart bag that had something like a box in it.  He was very excited.  "Mom!!  You know what you said about not buying candy?  Well, I didn't.  Instead, I bought this!!"  And out of the bag he pulled - this:

A box of rolls.  He was very pleased with himself.  Instead of buying 3 pounds of Skittles, he bought 18 rolls.  Well..............I guess that's O.K.   I was wondering what he had eaten for lunch since these were unopened.  He was a little evasive.  So I asked him how much the rolls cost and he told me they cost "3 dollars and something." 

"Well, Aaron, you must have some money left," I said.  "No," he replied, "I don't."   Then I asked him what else he had bought and he pointed to the box of 18 rolls and said, "Another one of those!" 

Oh my goodness!!  THIRTY-SIX ROLLS!!!!!!!!!  But he assured me that he had shared the other box of rolls with friends and staff at his group.  He felt that he had been very wise today.  He didn't buy candy; he didn't buy slurpees; he didn't buy chips.  He just bought 36 rolls. 

We ate some of the rolls for supper tonight.  He kept an eagle eye on the plate that held the rolls and made sure that he grabbed the last one that was left.  Later, as we cleaned the kitchen, we noticed that the container of rolls was missing some.  He sure can snatch and run very quickly. 

I've told him about other choices in the deli - a sandwich, some fruit, a salad - but leave it to Aaron to spy those rolls and forget anything that I said.  Ah, what freedom!  To have 36 rolls all his own - to eat, to share - but not to have them hidden from him.  He said the woman at the register asked him if he was having a party, and he told her no.  But to him it was a party - with 36 rolls! 

We never know what a day will hold with Aaron!


In my post yesterday, I talked about two of Aaron's repetitive behaviors - rubbing his hands together, as well as the loud clapping.  He has other charming behaviors, as well.  One that he shares quite often is making noises with his mouth. 

Some of the noises may leave people a little puzzled when they hear them but they are not offensive.  One of those would be when he meows like a kitten.  It may be a little odd if you're standing somewhere and hear a grown man meow, but it's not terribly uncomfortable. 

However, Aaron's very favorite noise is quite the opposite of the meow sound.  His noise of choice sounds dad would have wanted me to say that it sounds like Aaron is 'passing gas.'     Or that whoever might be standing beside him.............which is usually passing gas. 

I become very embarrassed when Aaron makes this noise, as you can imagine.  Whether we're walking past the Wal-Mart greeter;  walking down a store aisle;  waiting in the check-out line;   sitting in a waiting room;  eating in a restaurant;   in the theater  -  it never gets any easier for me when Aaron decides to blurt out this pleasing noise. 

"AARON!!!,"  I hiss. "Stop making that noise!!!!"    And he almost always asks, "Why?"   WHY??!!  "Because people will think that one of us is.......farting.......(sorry, Dad)........and that's embarrassing!"  

But Aaron doesn't respond to social situations like you and I do.  His filters, the few that he has, are way off base.  Aaron receives some sort of satisfaction from making this noise, just like the clapping, but he is not embarrassed by it.  Not at all.  Ever. 

He came home from his group one day and told me, "Mom, I was standing in the line at Wal-Mart and I made the meow noise.  Then this lady looked at me funny."  

Well, yes, Aaron I've told you many times that no one else makes these noises and that when you do, people think it's strange, and so they will stare at you - which is why you need to stop making the noises...............on and on and on.

His reply:  "But Mom, isn't the meow noise better for me to make than the farting noise?" 

Well, when you put it that way................

Monday, November 28, 2011


Individuals with autism often exhibit repetitive actions that may be very unusual to the average person.  Sometimes these behaviors are calming to the one with autism, or they may result from stimulation.

Sometimes these behaviors are NOT calming to the individuals who live with these autistic persons.

Sometimes these behaviors cause the people living with the autistic individual to become stimulated and begin their own repetitive behaviors. 

Let me explain.  Aaron, when he is telling about something that excites him, will bend over at his waist a little and rub his hands together.  This behavior is a little funny and is not annoying.  Aaron also loves to clap.  These claps can be ear splitting.  I am sure that he must have the loudest claps of anyone ever living on planet Earth.  This behavior is not funny and is beyond annoying.  Aaron has clapped since he was very little.  His very little claps were cute and we assumed were just the behavior of a very little toddler person.   He never outgrew the clapping, and now his large claps are not cute as they come from this large grown man. 

As we walk into a store I will automatically remind Aaron not to clap.  He can usually stop himself from clapping during these times when he is out in public, but sometimes I may be in another part of the store and I will hear the familiar CLAP.  I roll my eyes and imagine what everyone around him must be thinking. 

So the repetitive behaviors that WE have developed as we live with Aaron are to repeat over and over:  "Aaron, do not clap in the store."    "Aaron, do not clap while we're eating."   "Aaron, do not clap during the movie."    "Aaron, do not clap during the ball game."     "Aaron, DO NOT CLAP WHEN YOU'RE SITTING RIGHT BESIDE ME."   Notice our stimulation in the last phrase.   

We had our small group Bible study over last night.  Aaron was upstairs in his room, playing a game on his computer.  He claps a lot when he plays a game.  We're very used to it and hardly notice.  Gary was teaching and every little bit we'd hear the familiar clap.  "And so we see in these verses...........CLAP.............that Jesus was reminding us to.............CLAP..............remember that in this life..............CLAP..............we are to strive to be peacemakers..............CLAP."   And so it went.

Later, after everyone had left, one friend remained behind and visited with us awhile.  We were talking and there it was...........CLAP..........and our friend paused and asked, "What is that?"  And we told her that was just Aaron, clapping, like only Aaron claps.  Our friend understands Aaron and accepted the explanation as being a very natural thing.  And for us and for Aaron, it is.

Several years ago Aaron broke his wrist.  He had to have surgery to have pins inserted, so he had the cast on for weeks.  We were sorry about the pain and the discomfort for him - but I have to say, the quietness was a gift!  Even Aaron laughed when we talked about how now he couldn't clap.  I would never want Aaron to break his wrist again, but I must admit that on some days the thought of a cast sure is appealing. 

Do I hear a round of applause? 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Do You Work Here?

Yesterday evening I decided to make a quick (I hoped!) trip to Big Lots.  Gary and Andrew were going to join friends for supper and a Wichita Wings soccer game; Andrea went to a friend's house; and so it was Mom and Aaron time.  He was very excited at the prospect of shopping and then going to Burger King - his choice - to get anything that had bacon on it. 

As we were winding up our shopping at Big Lots, we walked toward the cash registers where it was getting pretty crowded in those narrow aisles.  Aaron was barreling through in front of me, with me watching him closely to be sure he didn't overstep his bounds as he often does in a crowd.  There he was, with his eyes big as he looked for something else I might let him buy and with his watch pushed halfway up his arm - and a woman looked right at him.  Their eyes met and she asked him, "Do you work here?" 

This question really flustered him.  He just looked at her - and then nicely told her no.  He turned toward me............and laughed.  He laughed as if she had just told a very funny joke.  To Aaron it really was a very funny joke.  He took a few steps back in my direction and said (loudly), "That was a crazy thing for her to ask!  I don't work here!!!"  

It WAS all too funny at that point.  She was looking at him and I think realization had set in on her face as she smiled.  Aaron was still laughing his deep laugh of disbelief, and I was telling him to hush.  I knew that he might have other comments to loudly make about this woman who thought he worked there.  I was happy when Aaron noticed the fake fire places as we stood in line and so got his mind on something else other than the crazy woman who thought he worked there.

Later, as he and I watched West Virginia play football, he started laughing again.  "Mom, that was really DUMB for that woman to think I worked there!"  So I told him that it was a compliment, that she must have thought he looked responsible, and so forth.  I'm not sure he bought that.  Black and white, factual Aaron will continue to think that this woman was crazy and that it was dumb for her to think that he worked there.  I wonder if she's thinking the same thing? 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Trash Cans

Aaron has certain ways in which he organizes and categorizes things.  Unfortunately, this process often involves trash cans.  I say unfortunately because we've ended up with lots of trash cans here and there over the years. 

Let's see - he has a trash can for his mulch that he uses outside.  He has, at times, had three trash cans outside - at the same time.  One was for little sticks; one was for little round seeds that fell from the Golden Rain Tree where he sat; and one was for the mulch that he broke into tiny pieces.  There he sat, with three trash cans perched around him.  Quite a sight for the neighbors, let me tell you. 

In addition to his mulch trash can, he also has his two couponing trash cans that I pictured in the Couponing blog.  Only Aaron knows why he takes some of the strips of paper as he cuts coupons and snips them into very small pieces that go in one trash can, and then takes other strips of paper and cuts them larger to go into the other container. 

Then there is the trash can in his room.  The other day, Aaron saw an unopened video that I had just received in the mail the day before.  He loves opening videos for us.  He uses his Swiss Army knife to cut open the plastic and then removes the sticky strip on the video.  When he saw the video on the counter, he eagerly asked if he could open it for me.  When I said yes, he turned and with great purpose he clomped up the stairs to his room and soon returned with his knife:

And of course, with his trash can.  The plastic wrap and sticky strip from the video cannot go into the kitchen trash can.  Do not ask me why.  These items cannot go into the mulch trash can, of course, and certainly not into his tiny-cut couponing trash can or into his larger-cut couponing trash can.  Video plastic wrap and sticky strip only go into his bedroom trash can. 

Aaron performed his mission of opening the video and depositing the plastic and the sticky strip into the appropriate trash can, and then carrying the trash can and knife back up to his room.  Another job done Aaron's way.  Another glimpse into his interesting mind. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Whiskey Sirloins

Aaron is very fascinated with alcohol - the kind you drink.  I guess it's because we don't drink and anything that we DON'T do holds special fascination for Aaron.  Check out my blog from our trip in Sept. - the Yo-Ho-Ho blog. 

Anyway, lately he's seen the Applebees commercial on television for their new entree - the Double Barrel Whiskey Sirloins.  He doesn't care that they are Double, or that they are Barrel, or that they are Sirloins.  He ONLY cares that they contain Whiskey. 

Last night as we watched some football..............btw, the team I was voting for lost....................the interesting Applebees commercial came on.   Aaron perked right up.  He listened intently.

"MOM!!!!  Does that meat have Whiskey Beer on it?!!"

Whiskey Beer? 

So I discussed how you can marinade meat in alcohol to tenderize it, or use alcohol in the sauce on top, and how when you cook something in alcohol, the alcohol all evaporates.  None of which he was particularly interested in.

"So Mom - can I order Double Barrel Whiskey Sirloins the next time I go to Applebees?" 

There is his bottom line.  He would actually waver from his usual Biggest Hamburger on the menu choice or Chicken Tenders that he triple checks to see if they are boneless before ordering order to have a little taste of the forbidden whiskey. 

Guess where he'll want to go eat the next time we give him a choice? 

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Lab

I took Aaron to the lab on Saturday morning for his routine 6-month bloodwork in preparation for his upcoming Epilepsy appointment.  Aaron and another patient were called back to the lab at the same time, so we waited for the technician to finish with the other person.  I have to keep an eagle eye on Aaron because he always will find something to pick up, push, pull, open..............and he isn't supposed to be messing with any of it.  For instance, he immediately eyed the phone on the wall right beside where he was sitting.  I just told him right away to not even think about picking it up and dialing.  Aaron just smiled.  I know him so well. 

Next his eyes moved over to the table beside him, full of vials and tubes and that wonderful plastic, stretchy tourniquet that Aaron loves to play with.  Again, my warning was issued and so he resisted that urge to pick something up. 

As I stood there watching him, my mind went back to those many years ago when we first started down this path of Epilepsy.  He was in a German hospital for nearly a week and had all kinds of tests performed.  Gary and I both marveled at Aaron's composure and strength.  He wasn't terribly afraid of all the needles and procedures.  We had a harder time fighting our emotions than he did!  Spinal tap, scans, EEGs, bloodwork, etc. - he was amazingly calm. 

I soon learned, as I watched Aaron go through all this, that his natural curiosity took over his fear and discomfort.  He had always been, from a baby, very curious about the world around him.  He loved figuring out how things worked.  Sometimes he got in trouble because he would handle things or take things apart that he shouldn't, but we knew that he was being curious, not destructive.  And so he wanted to watch the techs draw his blood, for instance.  The procedure fascinated him instead of scaring him. 

When he was dismissed from the German hospital, we took him to our military clinic and began the long process there of going on seizure meds and adjusting the doses.  This involved lots of bloodwork so that his levels could be tested.  We walked in one morning, still new to this, and the technician tried to make Aaron turn his face away.  He assumed that Aaron would freak out if he watched it.  However, what made Aaron cry was that fact that they would NOT let him watch.  I intervened and told them to let Aaron watch.  They were skeptical but finally listened to me, and sure enough, Aaron was fine.  That was the routine from then on - me assuring the techs that Aaron wanted to watch, them being doubtful, and then them being amazed at how well Aaron did when he was able to observe himself being stuck with a needle. 

Aaron has never minded anything that he's had to endure.  The most upset I've ever seen him was when he had hernia surgery and wasn't allowed to wear underwear.  He kept asking to have it returned - so funny!  The first thing he groggily said after he woke up from surgery was, "Can I have my underwear now?"  HaHa!

He thinks MRIs are awesome - he thankfully doesn't remember the time he had a huge seizure inside of one.  I'll never forget it!  He loves EEGs - staying up for the sleep deprivation is fun because we watch movies and then all those wires hooked to his head are way cool!  He loved being in the hospital for five days for his video EEG several years ago.  All the attention was right down his alley! 

I'm thankful that God has gifted him with this fearless attitude.  It sure has helped us adjust, too.  My mother heart hurts enough sometimes as I've watched all he has to go through.  If he resisted or screamed and cried it would be so awful.  I hurt for parents who do have to see that.  I watched Aaron's face when the technician came in and prepped him, then stuck the needle in his arm.  His mouth flinched and that was it.  My heart ached, but soon he was thumping down the hall of the clinic with me and asking if I was sure we couldn't go to Best Buy, could he get something to eat, could he have his keyboard back, and, "Mom!  I love that kleenex holder they have where the kleenex comes out the man's nose!!" 

Gotta love Aaron. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Beans

I fixed Beans and Ham, with cornbread, and wondered if Aaron would eat them.  At first he was sure that he wouldn't like them and was getting somewhat hateful about it.  He ate a small helping, and soon was spooning more on his plate.  Good!

Of course, his conversation went where I knew it would.  He said, "Mom, have you heard that legend that people fart when they eat beans?" 

I have a feeling that tomorrow we'll know it's more than a legend. 

Sorry, Paradigm staff. 

Samurai or Sumo?

I've mentioned many times before that Aaron is very random in his conversations.  He sees or hears something, and then he'll bring it up, out of the blue, at the most unexpected moments.  And it almost never has anything remotely to do with what is being discussed around him at the time he wants to talk about it.

We were in the kitchen awhile ago, and Aaron was chattering with Gary and I.  Then he said, "I was talking to Cody about those fat guys.  You know..............are they Samurai?" 

A fat Samurai?  I don't think so.

We told him he must mean Sumo guys, not Samurai guys. 

"Oh yeah," he said.  "Those Sumo guys.  They sure are fat!"

So I asked Aaron, "Well, what do you think those Sumo guys do?"

And Aaron quickly answered, "Roll?"

Pretty accurate, Aaron! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

More Subway

Aaron does love subs.  He loves to get a sub on Fridays if I say yes.  Today I said yes, so off we went to Subway -first stopping at Dillons to buy Subway gift cards and get the quadruple fuel frenzy points.  I was nearly in a frenzy by the time we left the store because he took off for the video section while I paid.  He knows he has some birthday money, but I said no to every movie.  Why does he have such lousy taste in movies anymore?  The scarier the better.  The scarier, the more I say NO!

Anyway, we went to Subway and my heart sank because there were 3 people in line in front of us.  This gives Aaron lots of time to talk - loudly, remember - and talk he did.  He discussed all the posters on the walls.............not only discussed them, but wanted to stand in front of each one and point to each item that he was discussing - loudly.   What kind of cheese; what kind of meat; what to do with a grater; what kind of sauce in the pretty pot;  so forth and so on.  Oh, and the wallpaper.  Why did it have that design, is it old fashioned, etc., etc. 

There was a young girl in front of us, with her mother, and she was very fascinated by Aaron.  You would have thought from the look on her face that ET was standing behind her instead of Aaron.  She was trying to figure him out and hardly was able to order her sub.  I finally caught her eye and smiled, and also laughed at some of the things Aaron said.  The girl relaxed and smiled back.  I wanted her to know that it's OK - that Aaron won't bite or take off in a spaceship or anything.  People have so much to learn.  I understand that. 

Aaron is totally oblivious to reactions such as hers.  He's so excited to be there.  It was time for him to order.  He says:  "Can I have the white bread?  Can I have the American cheese?  Can I get the 60 cent cheese?"  (That's the extra cheese, by the way - and I said no).  "Why no 60 cent cheese, Mom?" 

Aaron, you don't have to ask the worker if you can have the food.  Just order - nicely.

"Can I have the lettuce and tomatoes?  Can I have the pepper - the GREEN pepper?  Can I have the RED onions?" 

And of course, the mayonnaise.

"Can I have the WHITE mayonnaise?"  And so this time the worker gave him LITE mayonnaise!  HaHaHaHa!  White and lite do rhyme.  I just smiled.

I told Aaron to sit down while I waited for the people in front of us to pay, and then paid for ours.  I heard him make a noise - he loves to make unusual noises - and so I gave him The Look.  He was quiet for a minute.  Then I heard the meowing noise, just as I turned to tell him it was time to leave. 

As we walked to the door, past all the other people in line, he asked - loudly - "Was the cat noise OK, Mom?" 

Where's our spaceship parked?

What Color Helmets?!

Last night we watched part of the North Carolina - Virginia Tech game.  Aaron likes to know who is playing, what color they're wearing, and who I'm "voting for."  The details have to be sorted out bit by bit before he can settle down to watch the game.

He was organizing the facts of last night's game as soon as he sat down, got his blanket over his legs, his water bottle fixed, his Skittles opened, his bowl positioned just right..................all this process takes awhile.  He watched the game for a minute and then said, "So who is this V-Tech anyway?"  I explained V-Tech.

Remember that Aaron is color blind.  We watched a couple more minutes before he said, "So North Carolina has the pink helmets, right?" 

HaHaHa!!!  Pink helmets!  I'm very glad that we got that straightened out.  Carolina Pink just doesn't quite seem the same somehow!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


We had a beautiful fall day yesterday, one of many.  Aaron and I even took Jackson for a walk when he got home from Paradigm.  But last night as we sat in the family room, Aaron said, "Mom, the temperature outside is 47!  It was 55 awhile ago!"

Yes, it was getting colder and Aaron was ever aware of that, as always.  This morning he wanted to know why it was so cold.  "Mom, it's 42 outside now!"

I rarely need to check the thermometer when Aaron's around, by the way.

We had some snow that fell today.  None of it stuck but for awhile it was very pretty coming down and blowing around.  Aaron burst in the door at the end of the day and said, "Mom!!!  I saw pieces of snow falling today!" 

I'm sure we'll see many more pieces of snow before the winter is over.  And Aaron will have a commentary for each of those events, I am sure.  And the temperature.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lessons From the Ladybugs

The last time I was outside doing any serious work in my flower beds, a few weeks ago, I looked down and saw a familiar friend on the brick that surrounds the flowers. There she (or he?) was - a ladybug! All through the spring and summer, whenever I've been outside working in the gardens, I confront more than flowers, vegetables, and weeds. There are also a huge variety of bugs and critters to deal with as I water and weed. Nearly all of them are not welcome in my world, even the ones that I know are doing a valuable job. I swat the flies and mosquitoes; dodge the bees; run from the snakes; shake off the box elder bugs and ants; gasp at the spiders; and generally try hard to avoid all the other flying and crawling bugs that come my way.

However, my reaction to a ladybug is totally different than any of the other insects and various creatures that I encounter. When I see a ladybug, I am unaffected by fear. I don't mind if she crawls up my arm or is near my hand as I grab a plant. Ladybugs make me smile, not scream. Sometimes I even talk to them - and hope that no one sees me talking in the garden! I know they do a valuable job for us gardeners as they eat aphids - hundreds and hundreds of aphids. When I see multitudes of ladybugs on my okra, for instance, I just work around them and urge them to keep up the good work! They're a help to me, an encouragement, and I refer to them as my friends in my gardens. They are indeed my little buddies!

Ladybugs remind me of my human friends in this life. God has blessed me with many ladybug friends along the way! As Gary and I made many military moves, we also made many friends in every place that we lived. The gardens of my life have been lit up with the friends that God has allowed me to make. How special and precious they all are to me! I think back to various events, both happy and sad, and remember the friends that stood by me. Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times....." I have found that to be so true when it comes to true friends. Friends have gone through the ups and downs of life with me as we've laughed, cried, prayed, planned, and grown together. Even the miles don't separate true friends.

Life has also held the unwanted experiences of disappointment and hurt, sometimes even from those that we thought were friends. One of the most painful experiences in life is the rejection or betrayal from those that we thought were friends. We want to run from it, as we would run from a snake or a bee, but the sting and bite still happens and the hurt is very raw. During those times, our ladybug friends are even more precious. Proverbs 27:9 says, "Oil and perfume make the heart glad; so a man's counsel is sweet to his friend." I am forever grateful to the friends in my life who have held me up and held me accountable; who have not only comforted but who have counseled me during those rough times; who have quoted scripture to me and prayed for me; and who have cautioned me not to sin in my attitudes during the stinging periods of life. Sweet ladybug friends, both near and far. Some are family and some are not, but all are dear and valuable ladybug friends that I treasure. Truly I thank God for each one!

Monday, November 14, 2011


I never tire of Aaron's unusual use of language.  Well, some of his use of language I can do without - but I'm referring to the unique way that he expresses himself that is often hilarious or insightful.  At other times, there are words that we use that he doesn't understand or sayings that he takes literally.  This is common for those with Asperger's. 

This morning I mentioned something about "flubbing up" and Aaron said, "Flub?  What is flub?"  That word does sound funny, doesn't it?  He thought so!  I asked him what he thought "flub" referred to and he said, "It sounds like something to do with water."  It really does! 

Right after that conversation, he saw Jackson laying on our couch and said, "Mom, Jackson's all twirled on the couch."  Twirled on the's a picture of our twirling Jackson this morning.

People who heard that Jackson was "twirling" today would have quite a unique image of our Great Dane, wouldn't they?  I like Aaron's use of language, though, when he makes these observations.  It's refreshing to use our language in various ways that we normally would never think of. 

Just think of all the times I've been twirling on the couch and didn't even know it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Temperature - Who CARES?!

As you know, Aaron talks about the weather a lot.  Several times over the past few days he's looked at his handy, dandy clock that he carries around - the one that has the indoor and outdoor temperatures - and informed me of the temperature outside.  That's so routine that I hardly bat an eye. 

Today he saw the clouds coming in and wanted to know if it was going to rain.  I knew what I needed to do, so instead of dragging it out I just went ahead and asked, "Aaron, do you want me to look at the radar?"   And of course he eagerly said, "Yes!"  This is one reason that I really like my tablet that Gary got me for my birthday.  It's easy to grab it, pull up the AccuWeather radar, and make Aaron happy. 

Nope, Aaron, no rain nearby right now.  I think it's going to stay dry.  Then he wants to discuss if I'm glad it's not going to rain - or do I want it to rain - when do I think it will rain - am I SURE it's not going to rain - do I think it'll rain later.............

If I was a meteorologist, Aaron and I would just love these conversations.  I'm not a meteorologist.  I love weather, too.............just not as much as Aaron.

And not like last night.  I went to bed a little earlier than I usually do, before Gary came up, and was laying there all relaxed and just dozing off...................when my door burst open like someone was going to tell me that the house was on fire!!!

"MOM!!!!!!  Do you think it's REALLY 53 outside?!!"

Oh, good grief!  YesAaronit's53andgotobed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Oh, OK,"  he said.   And off the thumped up the hall, somehow satisfied to have asked the question and totally unconcerned that he scared me to death and woke me up. 

Is there a dial 1-800-WEATHER that he could call?

Friday, November 11, 2011


Aaron loves, loves, loves to shop.  That is, he loves to shop at stores that HE likes.  Those would be stores that have DVDs, computer games, candy, and snack foods.  Not necessarily in that order.  He does NOT like clothing stores or hardware stores, in particular.  Sometimes on a day when he's home he'll hear one of us getting ready to leave and he'll thunder downstairs, asking if he can go, too.  If we tell him that we're going to Lowes, for instance, he'll dejectedly say, "Oh..........never mind." 

The other day his group was out shopping and later that evening Aaron said, "Mom, today we went to Michaels.  That store is full of crafts, right?" 

Yes, Aaron, Michaels is full of crafts.

"Well, it's not my favorite store."

I knew it wouldn't be, Aaron.

"Mom, do you like Michaels?"
Yes, Aaron, I like Michaels. 

"Mom, what do you like about Michaels?"

Well, I like the crafts and the decorations.

Later, he wanted to talk about Michaels again.  "Mom, I really didn't like Michaels.  It smells like art and perfume!!"

I had to laugh.  That's a very accurate description, really.  Art and perfume! 

Neither of those are Aaron's favorites, so no wonder he doesn't care for Michaels!  I think the next time I'm going shopping and need some alone time, I'll plan a stop at Michaels so he'll decide to stay at home! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Birthday

Aaron had a big day yesterday.  He loves the attention; he loves the food; he loves the presents.  I think he got plenty of each!  He came home from Paradigm talking about the chocolate cupcakes.  "Mom, the chocolate cupcakes had know...............that chocolate syrup stuff on top!"  Icing, Aaron?  "Yeah, yeah, it was icing!" 

Gary got home from work and we all drove up to meet some of his Paradigm staff at Cracker Barrel.  Years ago Aaron saw a billboard for, of all places, Hooters..............and so he was curious about it and one day asked if we could go to Hooters to eat.  We cautiously explained why that wouldn't be happening.  On our way up to Cracker Barrel, he said, "So we can't go eat at Hoots, right?"  Nope - no eating at Hoots, Aaron. 

We had a great time at Cracker Barrel.  It's always nice to be joined by Andrea. 

The Paradigm friends are amazing.  They understand and love Aaron so much.  Thank you to Krysten, Courtney, and Cody for celebrating Aaron's birthday with us.  Courtney actually is busy pursuing her degree now and isn't working at Paradigm, and so we miss her and were happy to see her again.

At home once again, Aaron opened his presents.  Notice that he brought down his clock.  He always, always must have his clock!

And see the Swiss Army knife that he MUST use when opening gifts.  So far no major injuries to himself or to furniture.  We watch closely.

He was so full that the Apple Pie will wait to be eaten for breakfast today.  All in all, a great day for Aaron and for the rest of us.  Hyper, happy Aaron! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Today is the BIG DAY!!!  It's Aaron's birthday.  He is 27 years old today.  Wow!  He's been on the countdown for days.  I've heard these statements for quite awhile now: 

"Mom, my birthday is coming!"

"Mom, it's almost my birthday!"

"Mom, my birthday is 4 days away!"

"Mom, my birthday is 3 days away!"

"Mom, did you know my birthday is November the 8th?"
And yesterday:  "Mom, today is November the 7th!"

So today's the day!  He wasn't as excited as I thought he'd be this morning.  Often he doesn't show his excitement when the event is actually here.  It's as if the anticipation is more meaningful than the actual day.  But that's because Aaron has a hard time expressing how he really feels.  All the well wishes, hugs, and happiness on our part almost embarrasses him.  Yet he - and we - would never want to ignore his day.  We understand how he handles all the attention and we just go along with it, trying to help him roll with the flow of his special day. 

I fixed him one of his favorites for breakfast - pancakes, of course.  Maybe you can see in the picture that along with his fork, he also has a knife and spoon.  He ALWAYS has those utensils when he eats, and if I don't put them out he will go and get them.  It doesn't matter if he's eating soup - he WILL have a knife and fork there.  And sometimes more than one!  Also the toothpicks and the napkins that he makes sure are there before he eats.  Routine, routine!

He's intrigued by the new tablecloth that Andrea bought.  We played Skip-Bo on it the other night.  It was a little awkward but it worked, although Aaron kept smoothing out the wrinkles, saying, "Mom, I can't get these lumps out!"  And so as he ate this morning he referred to the pretty tablecloth as "that soft spread thing." 

He gets to eat at his restaurant of choice tonight, and that will be Cracker Barrel.  He decided that several months ago.  Several of his friends (staff) from Paradigm are joining us, as well as Andrea.  It should be fun!  Then back home for Apple Pie - he always prefers Apple Pie over cake for his birthday.  And presents, of course.  Then the day will be done, in Aaron's mind.  It'll be time for him to walk away, go up to his room, put away his gifts and get on with life as Aaron knows it. 

Aaron with our old birthday sign that the kids made for Gary years ago.  We always hang it up on our birthdays!

Another year older.  Another year of life with Aaron - in his world and in his way.  Unique and fascinating.  Sometimes frustrating.  Always coming back to love. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

MORE Football!

Our weekend football games with Aaron continue to be..................well, educational in a strange sort of way.  He certainly keeps us alert and aware of football aspects that we usually never notice. 

Here's a typical picture of Aaron as he settles in for the game.  If I get a little chilly and throw my fuzzy blanket over my legs, I have to say that our family room resembles a nursing home.  No comments from my well meaning (yeah, right!) family and friends.

This past Saturday we watched the LSU - Alabama game.  Aaron always asks, "Mom, so what team are you voting for?"  I told him that I was voting for Alabama.  He figures out, then, which team is which.  "Mom, Alabama is wearing the red hats, right?"   Yes, Aaron, the red HELMETS.  And he replies, "OK, they're wearing the red hats."   Whatever.

Aaron is very fascinated with the cheerleaders, and not for the reason that you would think a 27 year old young man would be fascinated with cheerleaders.  He just thinks that male cheerleaders are quite unusual.  He never thought of guys being cheerleaders.  "Mom, why are there boy cheerleaders?"   Well, Aaron, boy cheerleaders are usually called yell leaders, I believe.  "Yeah, so why do they have boy cheerleaders?"  Sigh.  Aaron, male yell leaders can hold up the pyramids better because they're strong.  And they yell loud, too. 

Later the television camera panned over to do a quick shot of the girls standing on the boy's shoulders.  "Look, Mom!!  The teenage cheerleader boys have to catch the teenage cheerleader girls so they don't fall on the ground!"  He's getting it.  I decided not to even talk about the age thing yet.  One concept at a time.

He loves watching the refs and trying to figure out their hand signals.  You have to take my word for it - his imitation of the hand signals is pretty hilarious.  And his comment at one point was, "Mom, that ref in his jail shirt has an "R" on his shirt!"  To Aaron, refs always have and always will wear jail shirts.  I guess he thinks they all have a rap sheet, too.  My apologies to the refs who may read this.

Coaches fascinate him.  He likes watching their expressions and seeing how they react to various decisions of the refs in their jail shirts.  This time he noticed their headgear.  "Mom, why does the chief of the team have those microphones?" 

He's having a harder time figuring out the 4 quarters, but he's doing better.  "Mom, is the halftime before the number 3 or the number 2?"   And as he started getting tired, especially when the team in the red hats that we voted for was losing, he said, "Mom, the 4th round is the last one, right?"

And toward the end of this game, he noticed the band swaying back and forth as they played their peppy song.  "Mom, how come on football teams they need singers like that?!"  Singers?  Did I miss something? 

I'm sure Aaron will help me figure it out during the next game that we watch! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Earthquake

Last night we had the unexpected experience of having an earthquake here in good old Kansas.  We knew that there had been some earthquakes and aftershocks in Oklahoma over the past few days, especially on Saturday.  It was nearly 11:00 last night when we felt the earthquake here.  I was in the bathroom and was amazed at how shaky it was up on our upper level.  The shower doors were rattling and the whole house seemed to be moving.  It was a very helpless feeling!

Aaron was sitting up in his bed, reading like he does before he turns his light off.  The first thing I heard after the shaking stopped was, "Mom!  Mom!"  So I went into his bedroom and he wanted to know what had just happened.  I told him that we had an earthquake and he looked at me, speechless for a moment.  That's a first!  He was truly dumbfounded at this news.  Aaron has read about earthquakes; he's seen them on movies; and he's talked about them over and over again.  But he never dreamed that he'd actually experience one! 

He hopped out of bed then and followed me downstairs to talk to Gary.  "Dad!  We had an earthquake!"  And so we talked about it together, and looked on the news on TV, and fed all that info to Aaron so he could file it away - to talk about over and over and over.  He was really unnerved by it last night and kept saying, "So........will we get hit?"  I told him that we just did get hit.  "No, I mean will we get HIT?"  I finally figured out that he wanted to know if we would have a big earthquake, so I explained that we don't know that and how we can't look for an earthquake like we can look for a thunderstorm on radar.  He also wanted to know where the earthquake came from and I told him it was centered in Oklahoma - and so then his question was, "Did Oklahoma get hit?" 

It was interesting to follow his train of thought, and it was sad to see how scared he really was.  I knew he was a little reluctant to turn off his light and go to bed, but I assured him that God was with us.  God knew what would happen and He was in charge.  Aaron agreed with that and finally we were all able to settle down for the night. 

The earthquake will be something he'll talk about a lot over the next few days.  This afternoon he said, "Mom, today are we gonna have another earthquake feeling?"  And then later, when our neighbor and his son came to our door to sell Boy Scout popcorn, Aaron popped out the door and told the dad, "Hey, we had an earthquake last night!  Did you feel it?  Were you in the earthquake?" 

So get ready, Paradigm staff and anyone else who crosses Aaron's path over the next few days.  The earthquake is Aaron's new favorite, exciting topic!  He hasn't even talked about his upcoming birthday yet today!  There's still time, though. 

And like Aaron says, I do hope we don't have another earthquake feeling!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mayo and Mustard

I remember the day I took Aaron into Subway with me and watched him order his own sub.  It's pretty entertaining.  I play the role of interpreter because Aaron is, well, confusing if you don't speak his language.  When the guy asked Aaron what kind of bread he wanted, Aaron said, "I don't want that bread with the black spots on it!" 

He doesn't want the Italian seasoned bread.

"Do you have some of that meat............what is it?.................turkey..........or is it ham?"

Aaron, let's get a Club.  OK.

"And I don't want that spicy cheese!"

You'll like American cheese.  Good.

And then he asks for the veggies.  "Can I have some tomatoes?"


"Can I have some lettuce?"


"Can I have some cucumbers?"

Aaron, just tell him what you want.  You don't have to ask if you can have it. 

Ok.  And the end was the best:    "I want some of that white mustard."  White mustard?  So the poor worker starts lifting up bottles to see which one Aaron wants, and Aaron keeps saying,  "No, I want the white mustard!" 

Finally I  asked Aaron, "Do you mean mayonnaise?" 

"Yeah, yeah - mayonnaise!"

I know that guy was very happy to have that order over with.  And now when we go in, Aaron always ends it by saying, "And I want WHITE mayonnaise!"  I just smile.

Today I got us some subs for supper.  When I got home, Aaron asked if we could have pizza for supper.  I told him about the subs and he immediately asked, "So, does mine have that WHITE mayonnaise on it?" 

Yes, Aaron - I made sure it was the WHITE mayonnaise!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Part Way

Aaron has some awesome staff at Paradigm.  One that is no longer working there, and that he really misses, is Courtney.  This morning Courtney's brother, Cody, told Aaron that Courtney wants to come to Aaron's birthday dinner on Tuesday.  That's happy news! 

Today when Aaron came home, he excitedly said, "Mom!  Guess who was at Paradigm today?"  So I asked, "Who?!"  And he happily said, "Courtney!!" 

So Aaron said that he got to talk to her, and we discussed how nice that was.  Then I asked Aaron, "Hey, is Courtney coming for your birthday?"  And Aaron said that he didn't know because, in his words, "I didn't talk to her ALL the way!" 

I love how he expresses himself in such unique terms!  And I'm a little scared at how easily I understand him!

Birthday List

Aaron has a birthday next week, on Tuesday.  He'll be 27 years old!  That's so hard to believe!  He's all about his birthday and has talked about it and planned it for many weeks.  He has also been compiling his wish list, so today I took it and did a little shopping for him.  I thought you might want to see his list.  I just think it's cute.  And remember how he told me awhile back, "Mom, one thing I want for my birthday is a Star Wars game.  It's on the east side (of Wichita) and is in a medium box."  So look at what he wrote with the Star Wars game. 

I didn't find the Star Wars game today.  Of course, I was over here on the west side!  He and I may just have to do a little shopping together one day.  But don't tell him that!  I won't have a moment's peace until I DO take him, once I tell him. 

Notice that he wants The Sound of Music.  That also makes me smile.  This guy who loves blowing up enemies in his PC games also likes The Sound of Music.  Of course, The Sound of Music has those nuns, and we know he has a fascination with nuns!  Those women nuns and their children - HaHa! 

I better wrap his gifts before he snoops around and finds them.  And put his list back where I got it - after all, he'll want to start adding to it for Christmas after Tuesday is past.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Opportunist

Last night I was saying my good nights to Aaron.  He was busy playing a game on his computer, so I went in his room to make sure his clothes were laid out for the next day.  I gave him a hug goodnight, and told him that I wanted him to do better tomorrow morning about getting off the computer to get ready to leave for his group. 

A few minutes later he was getting his bed ready for the night and I went back into his room to say goodnight one more time.  As I walked out he said, "Hey Mom!  If I get off the game good in the morning, can you give me some money?" 

Well, Aaron Daniel!  No!  I do NOT give you money for good behavior that's expected of you!

And he replied, "Oh, come on.  Can't we make a deal?" 

No deal, Aaron!

So this morning he did a very good job of leaving his game, getting his shower taken, and all his other morning expectations.  As I walked by the bathroom and saw him finishing up with brushing his teeth, I said, "Good job, Aaron!" 

He looked up and said, "Can I have a dollar?" 

I'm not sure yet if I should admire his opportunism or be a little worried. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lessons From the Stray Flower

It's the time of year to call it quits - as far as my flower gardens, that is. My beds of beauty at this point on the calendar are mostly dead or dying beds of brownness. I had noticed for days that I really needed to buckle down and get it over with. All the areas that had once provided color and beauty were now dull and ugly. My flowers had done as well as they could during our history-making summer of stifling heat and drought. Now most of them looked spent. Not only tired and exhausted, but many of them positively dead. The garden would be lovelier without the dead growth, and our eyes would be pleased to look upon beds that were bare rather than beds that were full but wasted.

I gathered the tools that I needed for the job. Small pruning shears, large pruning shears, garden gloves, rake, broom, and my trash container. I walked out back to the two flower beds at our patio and got to work. I bent over and began clipping with the small pruners, being careful not to pull the perennials up by their roots. Hopefully next spring these once beautiful flowers will grow again if I leave their roots intact. I worked among the Black Eyed Susans, the Shasta Daisies, and the Garden Phlox first, snipping and cutting. The trash container was filling up fast, so I emptied it into the large trash can and came back to continue the cleaning. When I came to the Tiger Lilies, I grabbed the large shears and began whacking away at the tall, tough stalks. They fell over the area where once they had stood tall and regal in their bright orange blooms. I'd scoop them up, toss them in the container, and begin again with the pruning. Death was all around me. Everything that was once full of beauty was now only brown and crisp. Dust was puffing up around me, getting on my clothes and in my hair. It was a place of dryness, of has-beens and what used-to-be.

And then I saw it. The little pink blooms laying on the ground caught my eye in an instant as I cut some dead stalks away. They seemed so out of place amidst the drab decay all around them. I paused and looked at them laying there so sweet and still. They were small but their beauty was enormous next to the ugliness all around them. They made me pause and catch my breath as I drank in their beauty and enjoyed the message that they gave to me. I smiled, refreshed in a special way, and then continued with my task at hand as I kept them in my sight. I tried not to disturb their blooms that reminded me of the beauty of the past and promised me of more beauty yet to come in the spring.

I have had times of great joy and beauty in my life. I thank the Lord for the memories of those times, and for the daily blessings and moments of happiness that still occur in my life every single day. But as is true with every one of us, I have had times of bleakness. Times when all around me things appear to be full of sadness, heaviness, and pain. The chopping and the tearing away take such a toll on me. I get so tired. The dust swirls around me and I long for clean air and a refreshing touch. That's when God bends down and speaks to me the clearest. There in the midst of the uncertainty and the heartache I hear His voice. His still, small voice speaks to me in sharp contrast to the darkness all around me. Through His Word, as I read and meditate on what He says, I am refreshed and encouraged. I remember His promises and His blessings of the past, and I know that He will be faithful yet in my future. God is like that little stray, blooming flower - catching my attention with His beauty and soothing me with His presence. Oh Lord, may I, like David, say: "Why are you in despair, oh my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence."


One of the quandaries that comes along with Aaron's autism is our being able to understand what makes him tick.  Was his refusal to go to Paradigm yesterday willful disobedience or is this behavior a result of his autism?  Can he control these issues and feelings that he has?  We've come a long way with Aaron, both in helping him learn to control his emotions and helping ourselves understand from where those outbursts come.  Yet he is wired very differently from the rest of us in the family and that wiring cannot be undone.  Training, talking, resolving, redirecting - all are important - but some facets of his autism will never be able to be disciplined away.

Such was the case yesterday when he refused to go to Paradigm.  As his tone escalated and he was becoming agitated, I had a choice to make.  I could also escalate in my frustration, which would only have compounded the problem.  Anger or outbursts never, ever, ever work with Aaron.  He is rarely intimidated or redirected through our frustrations.  But he WILL react, and not in a positive way.  The best thing to do is to try to get him to do what is hardest for him - it's best to try to enable him to express verbally why he is feeling the way that he is at the moment. 

So through deep breaths and calmness yesterday I asked him questions, assuring him that my purpose was to try to understand his reasoning and his feelings.  I guided him through his responses until he was finally able to verbalize the bottom line when he said that because of the Halloween party, Paradigm was not Paradigm to him today.  No amount of pizza or candy could entice him to go. 

Yes, I was frustrated but I also had to have a little talk with myself.  There's no room for selfishness when dealing with special needs of any kind in our children.  Was I as concerned about Aaron as much as I was concerned about my own schedule and plans?  Was my initial response of not wanting to speak to him for the rest of the day a loving way to react to the needs of my son?  How can I preach understanding and acceptance, and then have a desire to ignore my son for the rest of the day? 

I looked outside and saw him sitting under a tree near the garden, totally immersed in breaking leaves and twigs into his bucket.  Concentrating hard, he was, and sorting out all the conflicting thoughts he was having.  And my mother heart went out to him and the Lord filled me with a special love for my special boy.  I had a couple quick errands to run and so I slipped off while he was occupied.  And while I was out I ran into Papa Murphy's and got the Jack-'O-Lantern pizza we had seen on commercials.  Aaron was surprised and happy when I called him in later for lunch.

 We enjoyed our lunch together, and Aaron talked about all sorts of things, as always, that pop into that head of his.  He then clipped some more of my coupons until he got tired and thumped up the stairs to his room to play a game on his computer.  I got everything done I wanted to yesterday, and I had no regrets.  Thank you, Lord, for Your patience with me and for enabling me to practice patience with this son that I love so much.