Monday, April 30, 2012

When I Talk.......

Aaron's still not feeling he was very grouchy this he stayed home.  Again. Sigh.  I love Aaron, but the talking..........the snorting........more talking.........

Here's how he described his stopped up ears:

"When I talk, I can hear my voice through my ears."

Yeah, Aaron......I know.  When you talk..........and talk...........and talk...........I can hear your voice through my ears, too.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Grape Trees

We finished planting our vegetable garden today, which made Aaron very happy.  Long before planting season is upon us, Aaron begins talking about the garden - flower and vegetable alike.  He wonders which perennials will return in the flower beds..........what new flowers will I plant...........and what we'll decide to plant in the vegetable garden.

He's full of ideas, wanting us to consider planting "something different."  He has suggested strawberries; cantaloupe (which we did try one year); sunflowers; and a variety of other flowers and veggies and fruits.  He was discussing his gardening ideas one night a few weeks ago while we played Skip-Bo and said, "Mom, how about if I give you a new idea of what to grow?  How about grow a grape tree?"

The thought of a grape tree made me smile.  I almost didn't want to correct him because somehow a grape tree just pleases me.  Later, though, Gary and I both told him about grape vines............but I still think Aaron believes that grapes surely grow on trees, like apples and pears.

He was looking out our upstairs bathroom window one morning as I got my make-up on.  He saw that the yard was full of those little twirly seed pods from the maple tree.  "Mom, you know those helicopter things that come off the tree?  Where do they come from?"  I pointed to the maple tree out in the yard, but at first Aaron thought I meant the Golden Rain tree.  I said no and pointed again to the maple, and Aaron said, "Which tree?  That one?  The green one?"

Well, Aaron, they're all green.  It's the one with a million little helicopter things hanging from it..........yes, the green one!

He loves the Lamb's Ear in the front flower bed because it's so soft.  If someone mentions it or asks what kind of plant it is, Aaron immediately yanks off a leaf and hands it to the person so that they can feel it.  It's a good thing that it's a sturdy plant!  He often sits near the Lamb's Ear when he's in the mulch, and he will talk about how soft the leaves are.

Today I bought our vegetables to plant in the garden.  I had a few of the tomato plants on the kitchen table.  Aaron never can resist touching plants.........or pulling or picking or snapping off.   As he walked by the table, he saw the new tomato plants and of course, reached over and felt one of the leaves.

"Mom, these are a weird kind of softness.  What kind of soft are they?  A hard kind of soft?"

I guess when compared to the sweet softness of Lamb's Ear, the tomato leaves are a rather hard kind of soft. Who else but Aaron would talk about a hard kind of soft?

And later, when I walked past the tomato plants, I reached out to touch the leaf that's a hard kind of soft.  Aaron's right - as usual.  The tomato leaf is a hard kind of soft.

If I stop to see the world through Aaron's eyes, there just might be grape trees after all.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Zombie Aaron

Aaron got up yesterday morning around 7:00 and came downstairs.  I could tell right away that he didn't feel well.  His voice is deeper in the morning and even more monotone, it seems, than his daytime monotone.  He flatly said, "Mom, I don't feel well."  He then told me that he didn't sleep much; although according to the even breathing on the monitor he slept just fine.  He told me that he had a sore throat.  As he talked I could tell that his throat was swollen.  I eventually decided to let him stay at home and he was very happy about that decision.

He tried to lay back down but couldn't sleep, so he showered and went about his morning.  I could tell as the day went on that he was getting all stopped up.  He was snorting, as he always does with a cold, and sounding more congested.  Later, as we talked, he said, "Mom, there's something in between my throat."  That's it.  The only description I got of how his throat felt was that there was something in between his throat.  Try telling that to a doctor, I thought.

Last night I took his temperature and he did have a low grade fever.  He was relieved that the beeping thermometer gave proof of how he was feeling.  He asked, "So this means I'm not feeling well?"  Uh.......I guess you could put it that way.  This tangible confirmation of how he wasn't feeling well almost made him feel better.

This morning I woke him up before 7:00 to check his temp, and to make a decision about seeing the doctor today.  His temp had gone down some, but he was still very congested.  Why do these things seem to always happen on a weekend?  Aaron tends to get ear infections or strep.  With that in mind, I went ahead and made him an appointment at McConnell Air Base to see his Primary Care Manager.  I had to wake him up at 8:45, very unusual for him.

The drive to McConnell was very quiet............which is very unusual.  Other than a few random, small comments, Aaron was very sedate.  We were listening to music and with one of the songs that he especially likes he perked up and said, "Cha, cha!"  I laughed and he smiled and then he was quiet again.  He was becoming very, very sleepy.  His morning meds were partly to blame, but when Aaron is sick he really shows it outwardly.

By the time we walked into the clinic, he was so slow.  And when we were in the exam room, he was sitting up on the exam table..............weaving back and forth, eyes going back into his head, eyelids closing, and scaring the poor tech to death.  She finished her triage and I told Aaron to come down off the table and sit on a safer, lower chair.  I helped him and as he edged over to the chair, he began to weave............and ran into me, which pushed me back into my chair.  This was getting a little ridiculous!

I gave Aaron some mints and tried to keep him talking........usually no problem there, as most of the time I try to keep him from NOT talking. The PA checked him over but was very concerned about his "mental instability."  She's very nice and thorough, but hasn't seen Aaron often and certainly doesn't understand his neurological make-up.  I assured her that what she was seeing was a reaction to his sickness and to his morning meds.  She was thinking meningitis, or overdose, or who knows what else?  She talked about getting the doctor in to check him; asked about his last seizures; had he hit his head in his last seizures; do we get his levels checked regularly; when is our next neurological appointment..............I could see where this was going.

As we waited for the rapid strep test, she left the room and I gave Aaron another mint.  I tried to get him to talk about the Looney Tunes episode that made him smile as he recalled it earlier; I let him clap when he wanted; I let him bang his foot down on the floor a time or two; I let him reach over and run his hand under the automatic faucet to see it turn on; I even let him finally open the side drawers on the exam table because he was curious about what was inside.  I drew the line when he reached behind him and grabbed a big wad of exam gloves.  But he was at least more awake, so the PA felt better about him as she further questioned me and gave me advice...........not needed, but she meant well.  The strep test was negative, thankfully.

Aaron made it to the van without falling and I ran back inside for his meds at the pharmacy.  When I went back to the van, he was asleep.............sitting up, with his bowl of Cheez-It crackers on his lap, uneaten.  A quick, in-the-van, Burger King lunch renewed him a bit.  He stayed awake all the way home as he finished munching on his fries.  That was good news!  I didn't want to leave him in the van if he fell asleep.  Even Gary can't handle the dead weight of an asleep Aaron!

Whew!  An interesting morning.  I don't remember ever being in public with Aaron, as an adult, when he's been that out-of-it.  As we ate lunch, I said, "Aaron, you're like a zombie today."  He simply replied, "No."

Well, I thought you'd like being a zombie.  "No," he repeated.

Hmmmmm........maybe if Transformers 4:RISE OF UNICRON had zombies, he'd like that description better.  Anyway, I'm glad that my Zombie Aaron is in his bed, snoring happily.  Hopefully, he'll be normal Aaron when he wakes up........ready for Skittles and Cheez-Its, and asking what's for supper!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Aaron recently discovered that there will indeed be a new Transformers movie coming out..........which is grand and glorious news to him.  He loves those movies and has seen all three of them, as well as having them on his DVD shelf to watch here at home whenever he wants.  The news of a Transformers Four movie has made him very excited.  Very, very excited.

When Aaron becomes focused on a fact, or an event, or an occasion...........whatever that focus soon becomes an obsession.  His obsessions involve fact finding, researching, delving, reading, listening......whatever it takes to find out as much as he possibly can about his latest focus.  Then during, and most definitely after, his fact finding mission..........he talks.  He talks about what he has read, what he has unearthed, what he has seen, what he has heard, what he thinks, what he feels, what he anticipates, what he plans..........until we are completely immersed in his it or not.  It's usually a "not" with us.  And he could care less.

We are currently being dragged into his latest focus, which is the upcoming Transformers Four movie.  This movie is projected to be released sometime in the summer of 2013.  Yes, that is a year from now.  Actually, MORE than a year from now.  A   365    52   Gary and I will be needing therapy before this over.

Last night shortly before bedtime, Aaron came barreling into the kitchen.  I was preparing to get the coffee pot ready for the next morning, and Gary was downstairs.  Aaron was going to go down to say goodnight to Gary when he turned and said, "Mom!  I want to show Dad the Transformers video on the computer."  Knowing that Aaron would not be deterred from this plan, I grabbed my tablet and told him that we would find the video there.  Then he could take the tablet down and let Dad watch it.

I logged onto YouTube and proceeded to type in Transformers Four.  Up popped up all the videos pertaining to this topic, but there is only one that Aaron is looking for.  Believe me, only one.  "Mom, it's the number 45!" Number 45?  Soon I saw what he meant.  It's 45 seconds long.  Well, that limited it a little and so we hunched over the tablet, looking for number 45.  I could feel Aaron's frustration mounting as he studied the selections.  He wasn't seeing the one he wanted.  I chose a number 45, and though he was skeptical, he took the tablet and thumped down the stairs to show Gary this exciting video.

Soon he thumped right back up.  "Mom, that's not the right one!"  Now I could feel my frustration mounting.  It was late.  I didn't care about Transformers Four or 4, number 45, Unicron, or any of it.  But again, Aaron would not let go of his plan to show Dad the video that he was positive Dad wanted to see......or should see, if he wanted to or not.  WOULD see, if Aaron had his way.

Once again, we hunched over the tablet.  "Mom, you have to type in the number 4.  And the "T" in Transformers has to be big.  And then after the number 4 you have to put dot, dot - and then Rise of Unicron."

So I typed......Transformers 4..Rise of Unicron.

"No, you have to make Rise of Unicron in all big letters."

So I typed......Transformers 4..RISE OF UNICRON.

"No!  The dot, dot isn't right.  It goes like this."  And he grabbed a piece of paper and showed me - : .   A semicolon!  And even as I told him that none of this mattered, he would hear none of it and I knew it.

So I typed.....Transformers 4:RISE OF UNICRON

And of course, the same video selection presented itself.  And once again we scrolled down, looking for the elusive number 45 Transformers 4:RISE OF UNICRON.

The one video..........the ONE video..........that he wanted was not to be seen, according to Aaron.  So he thumped back downstairs anyway to Gary about the number 45 Transformers 4:RISE OF UNICRON movie that will be coming out in a   OVER a year away.

I quietly stood at the head of the stairs and just listened as Aaron talked and talked and talked about Transformers 4:RISE OF UNICRON with his very tired, ready for bed, Dad.

"Dad, the new Transformers 4 movie is coming out next summer."   (A!)   "It has Unicron in it." Gary responded and Aaron took off.

"So Unicron wakes up in the Transformers 4 movie!"
"Doesn't he look different than the cartoon?"

Yes, Aaron, but it's time for bed now.

"Dad, did I show you a picture of Unicron when it was his full body?"

Yes, Aaron, but let's go up for bed now.

"I wonder if there's a new robot?"

I don't know, Aaron, but I'm going on to bed now.

"Dad, do you think there's a new robot?"

I just smiled my knowing smile.  It's funny to hear this interchange with Gary and Aaron.  But then they came upstairs.........and Aaron turned his focus upon me as I finished in the kitchen.  My smile didn't last.

"Mom, what do they mean by Unicron was awakened?"

Aaron, I don't know.

"Mom, do you think he came back?"

Yes, Aaron!  He woke up and came back!!  Now it's bedtime!!

"They said a planet will appear with 47 spheres."

Hmmmm.......and Aaron was oblivious to our mumbles and our disinterest and our tiredness as he continued to ramble on and on and on about the number 45 Transformers4:RISE OF UNICRON movie.

He followed me into his room as I got his clothes out for the next day; he followed me into his bathroom as I cleaned off the top of his toothpaste tube; he followed me into our bedroom as I got the room ready for bed; and he was ready to follow me into my bathroom...........talking all the while........but I told him GOOD NIGHT!!

And the last thing I remember him saying as I ushered him out into the hall was, "Mom, I'm very curious.  Was he made by that yellow light?"

Aaron, I know you're very curious.........believe me, how I know!  But it's time to turn off all the lights and GO TO BED!!!!!  And he lumbered merrily off to brush his teeth and read his book before turning his light off and probably dreaming about number 45 Transformers 4:RISE OF UNICRON.

Gary came out of the bathroom as I closed our bedroom door and we both sighed together.  Gary's eyes were wide and full do you describe that look?  We are so together in this journey with Aaron that we both shook our heads simultaneously and then Gary said, "A year!  That movie doesn't come out for a year!"

Uh, Gary........that would be a   Good night, dear.  Let's just turn out the lights.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oh Brother!

I told Aaron on Sunday night that if he got "up and at 'em!" on Monday, then we would leave early and stop by Great Clips to get his hair cut.  As you know from other posts, Aaron loves getting his hair cut.  It's always an adventure with Aaron and I never know what to expect.  Actually, I never know what to expect from Aaron no matter where we go or what we're doing.

He was in a great mood yesterday morning and very ready for that Great Clips experience.  I think he loves how it feels to get his head buzzed..........and he loves the attention from the friendly hair dressers.............and he loves how they ask him questions, which he answers in great detail.  His hair looked a little suspicious before we left, so I asked him if he really showered and really washed his hair.  Once before, when I asked that question, he answered, "Yes, Mom!  I showered my hair!"   And of course, he assured me this time that he had showered his hair.  Still not sure about that.

As usual, on our way to Great Clips I repeated to him the familiar mantra - "Aaron, if there are very many people there, then we'll have to leave and come back later."  And as usual, Aaron has no intention of leaving or of coming back later.  I hope for the best.  And on our short drive there, Aaron told me how tired he was.  According to Aaron, he is very tired every morning of his life.  "Mom, I'm tired.  I quit playing the computer last night at 11:01!"  So I asked him if he brushed his teeth and he replied, "No.  I couldn't brush my teeth at 11:01!  It was late!"

And he continued:  "I got in bed at 11:02 and didn't even read.  I went right to sleep!"

That's good, Aaron.  But you really should have brushed your teeth.  11:00 isn't that late.

"Mom, it was 11:02!  That's late!"  OK...........whatever.  You really need to shower your hair and brush your teeth every day.  And while you're at it in the shower, just shower the rest of you, too.

Aaron barged into the Great Clips as usual, and as usual, I kept shushing him as we stood at the counter listening to the probability of getting his hair cut sooner rather than later.  My heart sank as the girl told us that two people had signed up online and that if they showed up, then they were ahead of was the young man there with his little son.  We sat down to wait and see what would happen, but not before Aaron grabbed about 3 little Dum-Dum suckers from the bucket on the counter and stuffed them in his pocket, unknown to me until later, of course.

The little boy on his father's lap was fascinated with Aaron.........probably because Aaron was talking loudly about all the things he likes to loudly talk about............and surely because Aaron also noticed the little boy, and proceeded to hold up his hand and give him the peace sign.  Finally, before I knew what he intended to do, Aaron popped up from his chair and walked over to the father and son.  He handed the young father one of the suckers and said, "Here.  Would your child like this?"  The father was very uncomfortable with this situation and Aaron was oblivious as he repeated his question.  The dad then said something about how he would just get their own sucker, but Aaron insisted and said, "He can have this one!"  And the dad reluctantly took the sucker from Aaron without even saying thank you.  Hmmmmm.............would a simple thanks have been so hard?  Thankfully, Aaron doesn't read those clues in people.  He had no idea that the dad was uncomfortable and rather rude, actually.  It's so interesting to see how people react to Aaron, and who "gets it" and who doesn't.  Oh well, it's the young man's loss.  Aaron was kind!!  I was very happy and smiling broadly.

Aaron knew that we might have to wait for the haircut if the people who signed up online came in.  Sure enough, the door opened and a man walked in.  And Aaron said (loudly), "OH BROTHER!"  I hushed him as I felt my face turn red and tried not to laugh.  Aaron will never be hired as a greeter, trust me!  I rubbed his back to calm him as we waited and as he talked.  "Mom, do you wonder what those haircut ladies do with the hair they sweep up?".............and many other questions and comments.

Finally it was Aaron's turn!  And one of his favorite "haircut ladies" was the one to cut his hair.  She said, "Hi Aaron!  Do you remember who I am?"  He didn't.  "I'm Erin, too!," she continued.  He was very unimpressed, seemingly, by this reminder of her name as he only responded with a grunt.  But Erin gets Aaron and so they had a famously wonderful time chatting as she cut his hair and trimmed his goatee and mustache.  He told her (loudly) about his weekend with Krysten and about eating at Applebees and how someone was drinking which he (very loudly) asked me across the hair salon, "Right, Mom?  I can't have beer?  Why can't I have beer?"  All eyes were on me at that point as I answered his question as best I could.  Good grief!  Why can't he talk about the weather?

He told Erin about eating pizza and does she know about the garlic butter in the pizza box and the bread sticks and does she like pizza and garlic butter and bread sticks?  He talked about the Tornado Alley movie and how he didn't get the chainsaw movie and about going to Target and about his sweater and the man who looked at him like he was strange and how the sweater is torn under the arm and how Mom won't fix the tear under the arm and what they were going to do at Paradigm today and on and on and on, as usual.  And as she cut his hair, he was leaning way over..........way over!  I think he just loves how it feels and was totally relaxed, but I was afraid he was going to fall out of the chair!

I'm so thankful for how Erin loves talking to Aaron.  She understands who he is, even though she probably doesn't understand why he is who he is.  But we don't need to always understand the why of things........just understanding who Aaron enough sometimes.

Aaron is unique............but aren't we all?  Created uniquely by God for a unique purpose in life.  Believe me, there are days that I question Aaron's purpose............but never God's plan or purpose.  I just need to keep my eyes and heart open to who Aaron is and not question the why of it.  There is much to learn from Aaron.  Too bad that young dad didn't learn a lesson today............or maybe he did after all.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

We're Back!

This past weekend, Gary and I took Andrea to Fort Worth.  She's been accepted as a grad student at the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center and will be entering the Forensic Genetics program.  This is so exciting for all of us!  We left on Friday afternoon and returned on Sunday evening...........much to Aaron's dismay.  Not the leaving part..........our returning was dismaying to him.  

Of course, Aaron can't be left alone for that length of time.  Krysten, one of his Paradigm (day group) staff, came to stay with him for the weekend.  Krysten knows Aaron well.........understands Aaron well............and is very laid back and patient.  These are requirements for anyone who will be attending to Aaron for any stretch of time that exceeds five minutes.  She did a great job and survived fairly unscathed - I think.  I haven't actually seen her since we returned, as she had to leave before we came back to the house.  We texted and talked some over the weekend.  I do hope that she is whole and unharmed...........she sounded like it.  I guess no news from her since we returned is good news.

As for Aaron, he had a blast!  No worries there at all.  He called a couple times while we were gone.  He loved eating out on Friday night at Applebee's.  He was especially excited to tell me about someone there who was drinking beer.  "Mom!  Could I have had some beer?"  I could hear Krysten laughing in the background.  

No, Aaron, you cannot have beer.  You know that.........I know that.........Krysten knows that.  But he still had to ask why he can't have beer, so over the phone we had that discussion again for the umpteenth time.  

He was also very happy about ordering pizza on Saturday night and renting a movie.  "Mom, I wanted to get the chainsaw movie!"  Again, I heard Krysten laughing in the background.    "But Krysten said that I couldn't get the chainsaw movie."   Thank you, Krysten.   "So we got one called Tornado Alley instead."

That's a much better choice, Aaron.  "But why couldn't I get the chainsaw movie?"  So over the phone we had the "why you can't get the chainsaw movie" discussion again for the umpteenth time.

We also had the "why you don't need to feed Jackson bread sticks" discussion;  the "why you don't need to feed Jackson pizza" discussion; the "why you don't need to feed Jackson chips" discussion..............and I don't remember what else because at that point I had put myself on auto-pilot and was doing more of a "uh-huh" routine as I told Aaron that I really needed to get off the phone.  

Then I told Aaron when we were coming home.  His response..........."Can you take your time coming home?  I like being with Krysten."  

I have told you that Aaron is very blunt, right?  

But it says a lot that Aaron is happy with her and was having fun.  We like knowing that, and are relieved to know that we can ask Krysten to come again.  Which we've already done, for early August when we move Andrea to Fort Worth.  Krysten said that she would come if possible.  Wonder if she's checking plane tickets for that time, though?  

When we actually got in the house yesterday before 5:00, Aaron was pretty unaffected to see us.  He didn't come downstairs for quite awhile because he was at a pivotal point in his computer game.  No surprise there.  Andrea was getting ready to leave, so Aaron asked, "Andrea!  I got some chips while you were gone.  Do you want to take them back with you?"  He really wanted her to have them and so she said yes.  

How nice of Aaron!  We were suspicious, though, so I asked, "Aaron, do you like these chips?"  

And he flatly answered, "No."  Uh-huh.  His kindness was a ploy to get rid of his unwanted chips.  Oh well.  We laughed and he stood there like we were being very boring and went back inside after his deed of dumping the unwanted chips was done.  Maybe not the purest of motives but at least he was giving, right?  We'll take it!

Later he told Gary and I about going to Target with Krysten, and how he wore his sweater, and how a man looked at him like he was strange.  His assessment of that....."That man thought I was strange because of my sweater!  I wonder why he thought my sweater was strange?"

Gary and I smiled at each other..........our knowing smile.  I doubt if it was the sweater that this man thought was strange.  Ah, Aaron - he's happy and he's not at all bothered about being a little strange, sweater or not. Too bad I wasn't there.  I'm pretty good at stare-downs anymore!  Bring it on!  I can stare right back with the best of them!  

Believe me - I've had plenty of practice.  And it's good to be home!   

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Church Visit

As a person with Asperger's, Aaron often demonstrates the social impairments that accompany this form of autism.  The social protocols that most of us possess are foreign to Aaron, no matter how many hundreds of times Gary and I have tried to drill these niceties into his brain.  When these social impairments are combined with his interest in the unusual, it can be a sure recipe for embarrassment............not his............but mine and Gary's, or Andrea and Andrew's.

When we made our many military moves, we would visit churches as we tried to find the "home" church that God would want us to join and be a part of during our stay in that area.  We visited a church one Sunday morning when Aaron was a teenager.  Arriving a little later than we had planned to, we found that all the back rows were already full.  Trust me, a back row for us with Aaron was most definitely preferred!  However, on this particular Sunday we had to choose a pew near the front of the church.  This situation made us very uncomfortable as we spent a good portion of the services making sure that Aaron was happily occupied, was being quiet, didn't make multiple bathroom trips, etc.

We already felt conspicuous as visitors..............Aaron only added to that feeling for us.  Oh well........we just smiled and went to the front, sitting down and hoping for the best.  Things were progressing smoothly as the worship service continued.  Suddenly, during one of the songs, there was a commotion near the back of the church - on the side where we sat.  An older woman had collapsed and her family gathered around her to help.  We all sat down and soon an ambulance was called.  The congregation was led in prayer for her as everyone waited for the ambulance and EMTs to arrive.

Aaron thought that all of this was very exciting indeed.  In fact, this was the most interesting church service he had attended in a long time..........probably ever!  Gary and I realized that he was becoming a little too exhilerated over this unusual turn of events, so we went into "Calm Aaron" mode.  We tried to redirect him from straining to look behind him at the action in the rear pews.  We rubbed his back, which he loved and which always calmed him.  We whispered an explanation to him of what was occurring as he kept asking.......loudly......."WHAT?  What's going on?  What happened?"

Realizing that no one in this church knew us or knew Aaron made us even more aware of how odd Aaron must have looked to everyone around us.  We reached a point where I do believe we would have just gotten up and left if we were near an exit, but this wasn't an option to us at that point without being very disruptive.  Aaron, as usual, wasn't displaying the proper responses to this tense situation.  He didn't care about the poor woman who had collapsed.  He didn't care about her very worried family members.  He definitely didn't care about his very embarrassed parents or sister or brother.  He was excited!  Here was a situation that grabbed his attention and peaked his interest!

Aaron's eyes were darting here and there as he anticipated the arrival of the ambulance crew.  When they finally came, they seemed to fill the front of that small church as they entered a side door.  Naturally, they ended up walking right in front of and then beside our pew.  Now Aaron had moved beyond excitement to being absolutely thrilled.  When Aaron is beside himself with excitement, he bends over at the waist and rubs his hands together.  And so there in the pew, as all eyes were on the EMTs pushing the stretcher right beside US, Aaron bent over at the waist.............rubbed his hands together rapidly..............and said.............loudly, of course............"COOL!!!!!"

Cool?   Did Aaron really just say, loudly, that this was cool?  Now Gary and I were in "Shut Aaron Up" mode.  We were beyond embarrassed..........more like horrified.........and felt that we should stand and offer a public apology before slinking out the nearest exit.  I'm surprised that one of us didn't have a stroke and have to be hauled out on a stretcher, too.

Well, we all survived.  The dear woman who passed out was fine after a brief hospital stay.  Gary and I recovered as well, as did Andrea and Andrew.............though it took the siblings a little longer.  As for Aaron........he never did see the problem with his reaction, so he had absolutely nothing to recover from.  He rehashed and rehashed the entire story many, many times..........complete with bending over at the waist and rubbing his hands together.  This was, to him, a church service worth remembering!  It was for us, too, but for very different reasons than for Aaron.

And for once, we had no problem the following week with getting Aaron out the door to church.  He couldn't wait to go back to that church to see what would happen next!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Only TWO?!

I've spent the better part of the past three days at church, cooking for several events.  On Monday night I brought home some leftover rolls..............and we know how much Aaron loves rolls!  I was in my bedroom the next morning and heard Aaron come clomping up the stairs.  He marched into my room, holding the bag of rolls.

"Mom!  Can I have some rolls?  I brought them up here to you so that I wouldn't feed any to Jackson!"

It's good to see that there are times, few though they be, that Aaron does realize his limitations at self control.  He knows that the temptation for him to feed the dog a roll or two is just more than he can resist, so he decided to let me supervise the roll allotment this morning.  Besides, this good behavior will surely earn him an extra roll or two - right?

I opened the bag and handed him two rolls, which he chowed down very quickly.  "Mom, can I have some more?" he asked.  I told him that I thought two rolls was plenty.  He pondered this for a few seconds.

And then he responded, "I think, like two, is just not plenty."

Well, of course Aaron thinks that two is just not plenty.  Two of anything is a mere starting point to Aaron!

This morning I was unloading the dishwasher and opened the cabinet to put away some plates.  This is what I saw:

I knew right away what had happened and when I asked Gary about it, he confirmed my thoughts.  Sure enough, last night Aaron was once again drawn to the bag of rolls.  I'm sure if left alone, he would have polished off the entire bag...........with a little assistance from Jackson.  Gary rationed them out to Aaron like I had done that morning, and then laid the bag aside.  Aaron knows our strategy very well.  When we realize that he will completely devour a particular food, we find a hiding place for it.  So Aaron strolled through the kitchen and as quietly as Aaron can be quiet, he put the bag of rolls into the bread box where they normally belong.............but where he also knew he can easily find them again as soon as the dust settled and Dad was distracted.  But Gary has the wisdom of experience and so he waited for Aaron to go up to his room.  As quietly as Gary can be quiet..........and he can be much quieter than Aaron, trust me!...............he went to the kitchen and hid the rolls.

Oh yes!  There is plenty of intrigue and sneakiness in our house!  Sometimes Aaron out-sneaks us and sometimes we out-sneak Aaron.  Gary won this round, as I discovered this morning.  I do believe that I'll leave the misplaced bag of rolls in their clever hiding place, because I know that Aaron will be searching for them this morning.

After all, according to Aaron, two is just not plenty.........and I'm sure he hasn't changed his mind on that at all!  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lionel Ritchie is Weird?

Last night, Aaron and I took some time to grab our backscratchers and tickle each other's backs.  AH............feels so good and it's very relaxing.  Well, it's relaxing as long as Aaron doesn't get frustrated and start bearing down too hard, or giving random little stinging whacks on my back.  When that happens, I ask him if something's wrong and he says, "Why?!  Am I not doing you right?"  And if I tell him that no, he is not doing a good job, then he often gets more frustrated and says, "There!  Am I doing it right now?  Is that better?!"   I just finally tell him that it's my turn to tickle his back.  His response, invariably, is to say, "I'm not making you tickle mine, Mom!"  I assure him that I know that, and to just let me tickle him now.  It's a lesson in frustration for me to hope that he'll get any softer or calmer at that point.  Time to give in and get it over with.

Such was the case last night.  We sat down a little after 9:00 for some unwinding time before bed, taking the backscratchers - he likes a different one from the one I like - and getting settled.  I sat on the ottoman with him on the chair behind me as he began tickling my back.  I turned on the TV and there was the Lionel Ritchie special.  Fun!  I like his music and the guest singers were interesting, too.  I thought that Aaron would enjoy it.  He likes oldies music and likes watching American Idol.  I was ready for some soft tickle time before we switched places, and I would tickle Aaron's back.

We listened to the music for a minute.  It didn't take long for Aaron to ask, "Mom, who is that person singing?"  I told him it was Lionel Ritchie and some other singers, too............Ritchie's friends that had made a special program and recorded a CD, too.  Soon Aaron muttered, "Oh brother!"

Oh brother?  What's wrong, Aaron?   "He's weird,"  Aaron answered.

Weird?  You think Lionel Ritchie is weird?

"Yeah, he's weird."  So I asked why he thinks Ritchie is weird and he said, "He's trying to be too cool."

Oh.  Why do you think he's trying to be too cool?  "I don't know!,"  Aaron responded.  "He just is!"  I knew not to press Aaron for info because at times like this he can't really verbalize exactly what makes him feel the way he's feeling.  He just "knows" that something about this person is him.  If I press too hard for answers, then Aaron will get frustrated.

The show continued, with me enjoying the songs and singing along to some of them.  And I noticed the backscratcher bearing down harder on my back...........and then it came.  Whack!  A little stinging, familiar whack on my back with the backscratcher.  I knew that this situation would probably only go downhill from here, but I wasn't going to quit listening to Lionel Ritchie and Friends just because Aaron didn't like it.

More muttering ensued.  "That's dumb," Aaron said.  Whack!  "This is stupid!"

Now, Aaron, you like oldies music.  There's nothing dumb or stupid about the singers or the songs.  Why don't you like this music?

He sighed.  "I don't know...........different."

Aaron, be softer on my back, OK?  I could feel his frustration level going up........not only in his tension that was so evident but I could feel it on my back.  Whack!

Finally, after more muttered comments concerning how dumb this or that was, I told Aaron that it was time for me to do his back.  "Mom!  I'm not making you do my back!"  Whack!

Yeah, in a sense you are, Aaron.  Just let me tickle you now.  As I started on his back, he calmed down some.  Soon the program was over and our local news came on.  Aaron perked up............the factual format of the news keeps him focused.  And of course, he loves to listen to the weather in order to find out if it's going to rain tonight or tomorrow...........although he'll still ask Gary and I multiple times before bed if it's going to rain.

"Mom, are we going to get storms tomorrow?"    "So, do you think it's going to rain?"   "Dad, is it going to rain tonight?"

Oh man, I so wanted to start muttering some feelings under my breath.........that he would hear..........or give him a whack!  I didn't.  Of course, with his back to me he couldn't see me rolling  my eyes or shaking my head.

You're weird sometimes, Aaron!  There.  I feel better.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Don't Forget the Crescent Rolls!

Last night Aaron excitedly came into the family room from the kitchen, carrying this:

He found a package of crescent rolls in the refrigerator and instantly began planning his next morning's breakfast.   "Mom!  Can we have these crescent rolls for breakfast in the morning?"  I told him that we could.  He was very happy indeed.  He went back into the kitchen, only to immediately return, still holding the can of rolls.  "So Mom, we can have these crescent rolls for breakfast?"

Yes, Aaron, I told you that we could.  "Well, I'm just helping you remember."  Aaron, I will remember.  Believe me, with you around, I will definitely remember.

As he walked back to the kitchen, he said, "I'll keep them on the counter."   No, Aaron, they need to be kept in the frig.   "Well, I just want you to remember them."

Don't worry, Aaron.  He popped back into the family room, still holding the rolls up for me to see.  "This is the name of them."  

Deep breath..........Aaron, I know the name of the rolls.  I know what they look like.  I.  Will.  Remember.

And do you know that it wasn't five minutes later that he lumbered back into the family room and said, "Mom, do you remember what it is that I want you to cook?"  DO I LOOK LIKE I HAVE DEMENTIA?????  That last sentence was a thought........I did not say it out loud.  I don't think I did..............maybe I forgot.

Well, this morning Aaron had a seizure around 5:00.  He would want me to tell you that his seizure occurred at 4:51.  He slept for a long time then and didn't get up until after 9:30.  Of course, he feels awful after a seizure.  He slowly got out of bed and said, "Mom, I don't feel well."  He had the typical post-seizure headache and shakiness, but soon came on downstairs.

I just waited to see if he'd say anything about the crescent rolls and sure enough, after a few minutes, he said, "Hey wait!  Do you want to fix those rolls?"  So we got the crescent rolls out of the frig, opened the can, rolled them up just right, and popped them in the oven.  Aaron was very happy when he saw the hot rolls on his plate.  As I sat down, he said, "I'll wait for you to pray."  So sweet.  I asked him to pray and he, as he almost always does when he prays, had two sentences:  "Lord, please help me to feel better and thank you for the rain."  And then instantly he asked me, as we raised our heads, "Is it true that slugs are slow?"  I tell have to follow Aaron wherever he goes in conversation.  Ping, ping, ping from one thing to another!

We enjoyed the rolls and our chattering..........mostly Aaron chattering............and then he went upstairs to shower.  It wasn't long before he was very sleepy again and so laid down for a nap..........and had another seizure.  I got him up a couple hours later and he sat in the bedroom with me while I ironed.

He talked of course, and most important, had some sweet attention from his buddy, Jackson.  Aaron is happy with the simple life that he has and I'm so thankful for that.  He has never once expressed bitterness about having seizures or autism.

And among his blessings today:  hot crescent rolls that he didn't let Mom forget, and the love of a sweet dog........and Mom.............and a walk around the circle...........and the Lord, Who helped him feel better and gave him rain, which he loves.  Not such a bad day after all!


I've written before about how Aaron likes to go sit in the mulch, or beside the mulch, in our flower beds.  He breaks the mulch into little pieces and watches as it drops into his special mulch trash can.  He will fill the can to the brim, which takes weeks, and then we'll pour it out somewhere - and he'll begin anew to fill the can with his broken mulch.  He has performed this ritual for many years, using leaves, sticks, grass, or mulch.

At times, neighbors or passers-by have asked him what he's doing.  Some have said that they thought he was pulling weeds.  They must think we have tons of weeds, in one area at a time!  From these questions, Aaron has gathered that this activity of his must be unusual......or odd.......or just plain weird.  We know that his "playing in the mulch" or "being in the mulch", as he calls it, is an autistic trait.  This ritual, this routine, relaxes Aaron.  It calms him when he is frustrated and overwhelmed.  He has asked us, though, if he is strange for "playing in the mulch."  We assure him that this is not being strange, but that he is doing something he enjoys and that is relaxing to him.

When he was a student at the Day School here, his teacher called one day and asked if Aaron could go to the padded room that they had when he was frustrated.  This was a room where a student who was out of control could safely go and vent for as long as it took until he was spent and settled down.  They could curse, yell, bang on the walls, etc.  I found this idea, at least for Aaron, to be very disturbing.  I told the teacher that we didn't encourage cursing, yelling, hitting, etc.  So I told him that if he had a container for Aaron, or that we would provide one, and then let Aaron sit outside the back door of the class room in the grass and leaves, that Aaron would calm down during those times that he was escalating.  Sure enough, they tried this and it worked.

I know that when people drive by and see this adult young man sitting beside our flower beds, picking in the mulch, that they find it very strange.  We've grown accustomed to people finding our Aaron a little strange, a little unusual, a lot loud..........and that's OK.  I know that Aaron is also doing something else out there in the mulch.  He shared with us years ago that when he sits in the mulch, he's making up stories in his head.  Most of his stories match his fantasy computer games.  His favorite story to make up in his mind involves..........are you ready?............Jazz Jack Rabbit.  Yes, Jazz Jack Rabbit was a very favorite, very old, game of Aaron's when he was a kid.  Aaron asked me once if I wanted to hear his made-up Jazz Jack Rabbit story and I made the mistake of saying yes.  It was a long story.............a very, very, very, very long story............and it involved Aaron following me around the house as he told it in every excruciating detail.  I had to keep moving..........or I would have fallen asleep.  His monotone voice........the fantasy story...........on and on and eyes are getting heavy even now.

Not too long ago, Aaron was talking to me again about his mulch time.  "Mom, when I'm playing in the mulch, I'm making up stories.  What do you call that?"

"Aaron, when you're making up those wonderful stories, you're being creative."

And he answered, "Well, when I was doing that creative about Jazz Jack Rabbit.........."   and he proceeded to tell me something about the angle of his never-ending Jazz Jack Rabbit story.

Aaron was "doing that creative."  I love his language............well, most of the time.............and the way he really is very creative without even trying to be that way.  And he will continue to "do that creative" out in the mulch, I'd say, for as long as he's able to get himself up and down onto the ground.  

I think it's pretty fascinating when Aaron "does his creative"...............but I don't intend to ask him to share his  creative with me again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Band Aid

A trait of Asperger's that rears its head in various ways is the tendency to be very egocentric.  Aaron often thinks  that the world revolves around him.  I can have a cold or a headache, be laying on the couch, and all Aaron cares about is what he will eat for supper if I can't cook.  Yet he shows more empathy now than he ever used to.  My blog back in the winter, The Hug, was a story of how he hugged me one night when I had a fever.  It was so unexpected and so sweet that it made me cry.  But I waited until he wouldn't see me - he doesn't handle other's tears well, either.

Saturday evening after supper, as we cleaned the kitchen, I cut my finger on a can lid.  It really hurt and bled like crazy, but Aaron seemed totally unaffected by it.  Yesterday the finger started throbbing, swelling, and turning very red.  I ended up going to a nearby ER to have it checked, get a tetanus shot, some antibiotic meds and salve, and hopefully knock out the infection.

Yesterday was also a bad day with Aaron.  He didn't want to go to Paradigm and we had some words in the morning.  He ended up staying home, but I didn't say much to him all day.  I tried to just avoid him, and he knew why.  Sometimes he has such a hard time controlling his emotions, but I was having a hard day, too - and his actions didn't help my emotional state at all.  He doesn't like to see me withdrawn and quiet, but doesn't know how to repair the results of his actions.  It's really a stretch to think of him sitting down and saying he's sorry, and then explaining how he's feeling.  He gets close sometimes but not in the way that the rest of us can.

When I returned home from the ER last night, Gary had just finished mowing the yard.  I had dropped my prescriptions off on the way home, so he drove back down to the pharmacy to pick them up for me. Then he helped finish up supper, clean the kitchen afterwards, wash the dishes that didn't go in the dishwasher, etc.  It was all so sweet of him.

But what touched me the most during that time was what Aaron did.  Aaron loves band aids, and because he always picks on his fingers he ends up slapping on a band aid here and a band aid there.  He takes our band aids out of the bathroom to keep them in his room, and because it's a losing battle to try to keep him from doing that, I just buy him his own box.  While we were cleaning the kitchen, Aaron ran up to his room and then thumped loudly back downstairs.

He lumbered into the kitchen, held out a medium sized little band aid and said, "Here, Mom.  I got you a band aid.  It's my last one but I got it for you to put on your finger."  I almost told him no, that he could keep his last band aid, that I would get one from our bathroom...............but then I realized what had just happened.  Aaron cared about my finger!  And he was also reaching out to me, trying to repair our fractured relationship.  He was very pleased with what he had done.  How callous it would have been for me to reject that little band aid!  It would have been a rejection of Aaron and of his show of love and his attempt at reconciliation.

So I smiled at him, took the band aid, thanked him, and gave him a pat on his back as he quickly turned to thump back up the stairs to his room and his computer game.  I waited until bedtime, and the last thing I did before I got into bed was to put on my salve and  gently wrap the little band aid around my finger.  I felt better already, but it was a sweet feeling in my heart.  A rare tenderness wrapped around my finger and into my heart.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lessons From the Fog

As I walked down the stairs first thing this morning, I paused to look out our little front door window like I often do.  It was still dark outside but things looked normal.  I sat at the table with my coffee and got myself awake for several minutes before beginning my morning time with the Lord.  I've been feeling some heaviness in my heart lately.  It's hard sometimes to pinpoint exactly why and so I wanted to have some quality time with the Lord today.  Still, my mind was wandering and my thoughts felt disjointed.  Sometimes it's hard to concentrate on scripture and on prayer, and today was one of those times.

I realized that dawn had broken and light was peeking around the edges of the blinds, so I opened the first set of blinds behind me.  Those windows face our back yard with lots of tall trees and bushes.  I was surprised to see, as the blinds lifted, that fog had suddenly moved in from the north.  Where an hour earlier it had been clear, now everything was covered in an eerie haze.  I just stood at the window looking out at the blurry trees and watching as the fog was floating in.  I knew the trees were still there but they were becoming more and more obscured by the thickening fog.

This haze that shrouded my world this morning matched my mood.  A heaviness in my heart, like I said, that can't quite be defined had been bothering me for a few days.  It could be any number of things, I know.  Primarily I wonder if it's Satan's darts being hurled at me.  Discouragement is a favorite weapon of his.  An old physical issue is bothering me again; an old hurt is trying to bubble up once more; feeling adrift and not sure of my place in ministry............yes, those concerns keep me awake at night and press into my thoughts during the day.  And there are so many people that I care for that are struggling with serious health issues.  I believe all of us know more and more people, young and old alike, that are facing very dangerous illnesses and treatments.  Even my neighbor was carried off in an ambulance last week.  Turning on the news certainly doesn't help in the discouragement department these days!

I do not usually have an Eeyore type of personality.  Negativity is something that I avoid.  Yet sometimes life just gets tiring, doesn't it?  We don't always see God's hand at work or hear His voice speak.  Like a creeping, silent fog, our disappointments and worries can seep into our hearts and minds to the point that God is almost obscured.  We blink and try to focus, but His shape is hard to make out through the thickness of our concerns.  We get tired and weary, weighed down more and more by all the messes that are swirling around us - in our own lives or in the lives of the ones we love.  It's difficult to concentrate on His Word and our prayers seem to bounce off the fog in our minds.

Job said it very well:  "Behold, I go forward but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him.  When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him;  He turns on the right, I cannot see Him."  (Job 23: 8-9)   No matter which way we turn, sometimes, we don't see God.  Oh, we know in our heads that He is there but we don't see or feel the evidence of that truth.  Circumstances don't change.........pains of whatever sort don't go away...........hurts aren't resolved..............God, where are You?

But listen to Job continue speaking in verses 10 and 11:  "But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me I shall come forth as gold.  My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned aside."  Maybe I can't see God, but He sees me!  He knows the way I take.  He has planned this path that I am on and even when it's clouded with fogs of uncertainty and pain and discouragement, I am to hold fast to this path that He has for me.  I am to keep His way and not turn aside.  I know that God is present in the pain; I know that He cares; and I know that His light will again shine in my heart, even during the tough times.  The fog will lift and the view will be clear one day, but even IN the fog I am to stay on the path..........keep trusting..........and don't give Satan  the freedom to cloud my faith.

And in verse 14, Job says:  "For He performs what is appointed for me........"  God will perform what He appoints for me, even in the fog.  There are lessons to be learned from the fog out my window and from the fog in my heart!  And when the fog lifts, how beautiful the view will be!  Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Walk in the Park

Andrea was home again for part of the weekend.  I know her days of living this close are soon to be over, so we  enjoy every weekend spent with her. Our weather has been beautiful and so sometimes she and I will slip out for a walk with Jackson in the park.  We try to slip out because, sad to say, we don't want Aaron to go with us, usually.  That sounds mean, perhaps, but when he's with us he will monopolize the conversation and we don't get to chatter between us like we love to do.

Yesterday, though, Andrea told me that we should take Aaron.  She really does miss him and that warms my heart.  I asked Aaron if he wanted to go on a walk with us as we took Jackson to the park, and he was just very excited. He hurried and got his shoes and socks on, and off we went.  Aaron sat in the middle seat of the van with Jackson right behind him, breathing heavily with his own doggie excitement.  "Mom, Jackson is breathing in my face.  His breath doesn't smell good.  Do you think his breath smells good?"

Well, Aaron , you're the one who asks me nearly every day if Jackson can go with us when we drop you off to your group - so now you just sit back and enjoy your time with the dog.  I was already enjoying myself very much.

Swanson Park was green and pretty, with some puddles here and there from our early morning rain.  Lots of people were out and many were walking their dogs.  Jackson loves other dogs and so he was delighted, and sometimes a little hesitant, to meet all his four-legged friends that crossed our path.  Aaron, on the other hand, was a little nervous about the other dogs.  When he would see a family approaching us with a dog, he would say (loudly), "Oh No!"  I'm sure those that heard Aaron's exclamation wondered what was wrong, so Andrea and I kept having to tell Aaron to be quiet.  Several people stopped us to talk and to let our dogs meet each other, which gave Aaron the opportunity he loves...............talking!

"This is a Great Dane!" he would if most people don't know that already when they see this 198 pound giant of a dog.  "What kind of dog do you have?  Do you think they like each other?"  And of course, "Look!  They're sniffing each other!"   Some dogs were playful and would get a little frisky, which made Aaron nervous again.  "Is your dog mean?  Is he going to bite?"

Aaron talked about the graffiti that we saw painted here and there, to us and to many of the people that we passed.  How many times did Andrea and I say, "Come on, Aaron.  Let's go!"  Off we would go again, and soon Aaron would repeat what we heard all during our walk:

"Mom, am I losing weight from walking?"

"Mom, have I lost weight from walking?"

"Mom, look!  My shirt won't stay tucked in.  I've lost weight!"  

Good grief, Aaron, just tuck your shirt in, pull your pants up, and keep walking.  Trust me, weight loss does not come that easily.

As we finished our walk and neared the van, Aaron asked, "Mom, is Jackson tired?  His tongue is a lot lower than it was."  And as we got ready to get in the van, "Mom, Jackson gassed!"

Well, let's be glad that Jackson gassed outside the van, Aaron, instead of inside!  Besides, we have enough hot air inside already.............believe me!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Morning With Happy Aaron

Aaron was happy this morning, which means he was compliant about getting ready and then very talkative after his shower.  I enjoy the mornings when he comes in the bathroom while I'm putting on my make-up and just sits there talking to me.  It's so interesting to listen to him and through his talking, be able to see into his thinking.  I decided to share with you a little of my morning with Aaron.

I never know if he'll get off the computer in time to shower well, or at all, or if he'll be grouchy about it.  This morning he was in a good mood and got himself off the computer with no fuss.  In his bathroom, I heard the water running and then heard Aaron singing "Jimmy Crack Corn."  Yes......he was singing "Jimmy Crack Corn."  He later told me, "Mom, that song is old, right?"   Yes, Aaron, it's a very old song but a good song to sing..........and you sang it very well.  He was pleased with that critique.

But, Aaron, did you really shower well?  Of course he says yes to that, but I told him that his hair didn't look so hot.  "I washed my hair, Mom,!  I just didn't wash it long.  I was in a hurry!"  Yep, there was a lot more singing than showering going on this morning!  Ugh!

I asked him how he slept last night.  His answer:  "Kinda well.  I went to sleep at 11:24 and got up at 7:30."   We talked about getting off the computer at night and not reading so long and why does his stomach hurt in the morning and then:  "Mom, I didn't know that dog's eyes glow.  I thought only cat's eyes glow."  So we transitioned into the glowing eyes of animals.  Which led to:  "Oh Mom!  Yesterday I saw the toad for the fourth time!  Does he like the cold?  Why is he out in the cold and the rain?" 

With Aaron, it's around and around he goes, and where he lands nobody knows.  I've learned to transition with ease.......most of the time.  His next subject:  "Mom, yesterday we were sitting on the upper top of the east mall and I saw a make-up store."  A make-up store?  "Yeah.  You know - a store that sells make-up.  And there was a woman that works there putting make-up on her OWN self!"  He thought it was odd that she would put powder on her OWN self and she was looking in a mirror and why did she need to look in a mirror?  I was hoping that Aaron didn't go into the make-up store and stand there staring at her, like he does in the nail salons, but he said that he did not go in the make-up store because he thought it would smell funny..............which led to:  "Mom, I don't like going in shoe stores.  You know why?" 
No, Aaron, but I have a feeling you're about to tell me.  "It's because they smell funny, too."  And we had to figure out why shoe stores smell funny and make-up stores smell funny and nail salons, too.

Today is movie day and so he said, "Mom, have you ever noticed that at the theater in the area in front of you is the popcorn and in the other area behind that is the popcorn popper?  I told Krysten that I wish my Mom had that big popcorn popper!  Would you want that much popcorn?" 

No, Aaron, but I'm sure you would.  And I found out that, yes, Aaron would love that much popcorn and why don't I want that big popcorn popper and why is the one we have now enough and am I SURE I don't want that big popcorn popper that's in that area at the theater behind the popcorn? 

We talked about many other things as we left the house and drove to meet his group.  "Mom, what happened to the warmness?  I thought it was spring."  The warmness will come back, Aaron, believe me!  And he ended by listening carefully to the Lion King CD as we drove and deciding that a particular character is really a baboon but is he a wizard because "doesn't he do things in the wizard way?"  When we pulled up to the van holding his group, Aaron continued to talk.  He always does, and Cody waits patiently for Aaron to finish.  Aaron must finish or Aaron isn't happy and we all want Aaron to be happy.

And besides, what he says is very interesting and insightful and funny and I am reminded to be thankful that our autistic son can talk. 

Some days not so much, but today was a day to listen and learn and follow Aaron's ever-so-fascinating mind.  So far.  We'll see what the second half of the day holds! 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Brown Stuff on Top

It sure is interesting to listen to Aaron talk about his day with Paradigm, his day group.  His descriptions of food, as you know from past blogs, can be mysterious or downright funny.  On Wednesdays, the group cooks at their office location.  They have a huge area full of couches, chairs, a pool table and other games, and a nice kitchen.  Every Wednesday when Aaron returns home I like to ask him what they fixed for lunch. 

This was his description of their creation one day:  "I don't remember what it's called, Mom, but it had chips and then it had that brown stuff on top that looked like throw-up.  And the cheese that wasn't melted but it was those shreds.  And it had tomato stuff on top." 

Wow.  Sounds.............interesting.  I don't want to discourage Aaron from trying the food that they cook there, so I try to stay positive, but based on his description my reaction was..........YUCK!!!!

Of course, Aaron is color blind so as we talked about his lunch I was able to - thankfully - figure out that they had fixed Nachos and that the brown stuff on top that looked like throw-up was actually guacamole.  There is a reason, though, that I don't care for that stuff.  But I don't tell Aaron that.

Yesterday Aaron said, "Mom!  Guess what someone brought to Paradigm today?  Salmon!"

Really, Aaron?  "Yeah," he said.  "I don't like it."
Hmmm.........Dad and I just had salmon last night.  "Yeah," he repeated.  "But I don't like it. I don't like fish."

"But you like Long John Silvers fish," I reminded him.

And he replied, "But I don't like homemade fish."

Ah, yes, homemade fish.  But when I fix homemade fish at least I don't put brown stuff on top that looks like throw up! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Read my Face!

Individuals with Asperger's have a very difficult time reading social cues that you and I take for granted.  Aaron doesn't seem to notice at all when he is going on and on during a family meal, for instance, about global warming or Egyptian hieroglyphics or the rings of Saturn..............that we are not interested after a certain long period of time and that we really want to interact with each other about other subjects.  Subjects that most often have absolutely nothing to do with Aaron's range of interests. 

He does, however, know how to read my face.........if he takes the time to look.  He also reads my silence as an indicator that he has crossed the line with Mom - that Mom is frustrated - or angry. 

Once I overheard Aaron telling Andrea about buying a movie that did not meet our approval.   He said, "Mom's face acted like she didn't like it." 

How interesting...........and funny!  And today he knew that my face didn't like the fact that he was not wanting to get ready for his group, so we were several minutes late, with morning necessities undone.  I'm thankful for Aaron's very patient staff, Cody.............and for the fact that Aaron was happy.  Of course, running into Quik Trip for a #52 Slushie and some Hot Tamales helped Aaron's face be happy.  Not so sure his stomach will be as happy a little later today.

He knew my face didn't like his attitude this morning.  He kept looking at me and saying, "WHAT??"  He knew what............just read my face, Aaron. 

Tomorrow is another day to hopefully make Mom's face like what he's doing and how he's behaving. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Play Me a Song!

I grew up in a musical family.  Mom had a beautiful voice and a love of music that she and Dad shared.  We listened to music all day long, it seemed.  Mom played lots of classical music as well as the old musicals like Sound of Music or The King and I, and definitely lots of church music.  I'm taken back to my childhood when I hear songs like "The Lily of the Valley" or "The Old Rugged Cross."  We kids sang together in church from a very young age, and all of us love and enjoy music to this day.

I've always had music playing as our children were growing up.  Each of our kids also love music, including Aaron.  Aaron is much like me in that he tends to lean towards more peppy music, you could say.  I love the classical sound of a violin, but I really get down to the sound of a bluegrass fiddle.  My mother would call most of my musical preferences today "jazzy" music.  That always makes us laugh to hear her say that phrase, because it's said with some disdain.  She told me recently that she wouldn't attend a certain service at her assisted living home because at that time they "played that jazzy music."  That's probably the service that I would have enjoyed the most!  But I didn't tell her that!

I always have a CD playing when I drive, or the radio, but most often a CD.  Aaron loves the music and so we listen to something like Little Mermaid, or Alabama, or maybe oldies songs.  Aaron and I were listening to my Shania Twain CD one day.  He heard the song "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" and it obviously made quite an impression on him.  He laughed about it and said, "Now that's weird that she feels like a woman.  She IS a woman."  I just left it there.

Later that evening in his room, as he played a computer game, I heard him singing in a rather monotone voice, "Man! I feel like a woman."  Over and over he dryly intoned that phrase, "Man. I feel like a woman."  I began having visions of him singing that phrase in the middle of the men's bathroom at Wal-Mart or the mall............"Man. I feel like a woman!"  This could be bad.  I was very happy that he finally lost interest in that song. 

The other night Aaron had the television on and suddenly he said, "Mom!  Come here!  Look at this!"  I went to the den and saw that he was watching the public television station.  There was an orchestra playing a beautiful classical piece and Aaron was intrigued.  We watched awhile and we talked about the different instruments.  I said, "Isn't it interesting, Aaron, to see the actual instrument that makes the sounds that you hear all the time in music?"  He agreed and so we watched for a few more minutes. 

Aaron was unusually quiet and as I looked at him, I saw that his head was leaning over a little and he was very still as he watched the orchestra.  Finally he perked up and said, "Now that's SLEEPY music!" 

Well, yes, I guess you could say that.  Compared to "Man!  I Feel Like a Woman!"  it would appear to be "sleepy music." 

Probably a lot safer in the men's bathroom, too.  I should probably dig out my "sleepy music" Cd's again.