Monday, July 28, 2014

Eating Poison

Every time I get a phone call from Andrea, no matter where I may try to hide so that I can talk in peace, Aaron finds me.  He bugs me to pieces wanting to talk to his sister.  She’s so patient and kind to him as they talk, with Aaron doing most of the talking.  And most of the time, he talks to her about movies that he has seen or is going to see or wants to see.  Then he asks her if she has seen said movie or is going to see it or wants to see it.  

He recently talked to her about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie coming out on August 8.  He wanted to know if she had heard about it and was she going to see it and did she want to see it.  Then he asked her about Shredder……did she remember the old Shredder from the cartoons years ago………had she seen the new Shredder that was coming out in this new movie……..and since she had not seen the new Shredder, then he told her that she needed to look at the movie trailer and see the new Shredder.  

This past Saturday, just as Aaron and I were finishing a game of Skip-Bo, my cell phone rang.  I looked down to see that it was Andrea just as Aaron very excitedly blurted out, “Is that Andrea?!  Can I talk to her?!  Can I?  Just for a minute, Mom?  Can I talk to her?”

I answered the phone in the middle of Aaron’s questioning, so Andrea heard him asking something and she started laughing.  “Is he asking if I’ve seen Shredder?” she asked.  I told her he was, and she laughingly told me that just before she called, she remembered that he wanted her to watch the trailer.  So she had quickly watched the trailer just before calling.  Therefore, Shredder and all the other turtle characters were fresh on her mind as I handed her the phone.  I could hear her laughing, and of course, hear and watch Aaron’s very excited conversation.  It made me smile to listen to the two of them.  

Andrea is so patient and attentive to Aaron as he talks.  You would think she was talking to a colleague about genetic testing or virus samples or research that she’s doing in the lab.  But talking about Shredder or ninja turtles or when the movie comes out seems every bit as important to her as any lab conversation.  And Aaron eats it up! 

Aaron also talked to her about the movie he’s watching at home now…..King Kong.  “Andrea, would you say King Kong is a monkey?” he asked.  Then he was off and running, and I heard Andrea laughing yet again while trying to answer his every question.

Oh, and there was one more movie he mentioned.  Purge.  It’s a movie that just recently came out.  Aaron and I saw the trailer for it when we went to see Godzilla.  Purge looks very violent and dark, and Aaron has been interested in it since seeing the trailer.  A couple weeks ago his group went to see another movie and Aaron was quite upset that he didn’t get to see Purge.  We have told him he won’t be seeing that movie, which makes him want to see it all the more.  Typical Aaron.

As Aaron told me all about wanting to see Purge on the day he didn’t get to see it with his group, I tried and tried to make him understand how we felt about that movie.  Finally I said, “Aaron, what if I handed you some poison and told you to eat it?”  He said that would be bad.  I told him that watching Purge would be like eating poison…….it would be bad for him.  He seemed to understand and went on his way.

Here is what he said to Andrea as he brought up the Purge movie:

“Andrea, Mom said how about if you go watch Purge, I feed you some poison?”


Which is what I think I heard Andrea say through her laughter.

So if Aaron has told any of you reading this that I said I would feed him poison if he goes to see Purge, I do hope this clears up your shock.  

Maybe that’s why Paradigm didn’t let him go watch it.  Hmmm…….    

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Wrinkles

Aaron likes me to help him get his bed ready at night.  He almost always makes his bed in the morning, but at night he wants me to assist him in making sure that all the covers are pulled up just right.  Then the last thing we do is to cover all the covers with his animal print soft blanket that he got for Christmas.  He loves lots of covers, summer or winter, that’s for sure.

Last night he and I were going through this bedtime routine.  I made sure his long body pillow was centered where it was supposed to be…..that his sheet was pulled up……then his heavy corduroy cover – a bedspread, actually, that his Granny got him many years ago – was tugged into place………then his soft brown blanket had to be adjusted…….and next we shifted and rearranged his pretty red, white, and blue quilted cover that is rarely seen, unfortunately.

That was when Aaron paused and said, “Look, Mom.”

I looked down, expecting to see a spider or an ant or something crawling.  You can see how my summertime mind works.  But I saw nothing.  So there stood Aaron and I, staring down at his bed.  He was looking at what he knew was there, while I was looking at who-knows-what.

I looked over at Aaron and then he pointed as he said, “A wrinkle.”

Oh, yes.  There it was……an offending wrinkle.  Aaron will not tolerate a wrinkle in his covers.  Not a single one.  So I gave the cover a little tug and the wrinkle disappeared…….and Aaron and I happily proceeded on with our task.  The bed was soon made to his specifications and all was well.

Isn’t it something, I’ve thought since last night, that Aaron notices something as mundane and unimportant as a wrinkle in his covers and yet so many important things in life seem to be oblivious to him?  We go in a store and I know to remind Aaron not to whistle…….or make his farting noise with his mouth……and to keep his hand out of his pocket, because he just scratches himself in a most embarrassing manner…….oh, and don’t clap, Aaron!   Those are a few things I tell Aaron.  Other matters come up as we go along, believe me.  

Now to me, these are major wrinkles, but not to Aaron.  Why don’t these annoying traits bother Aaron as much as a wrinkle in his covers?  And why does he love to whack us on our rear end?  He does that to the staff and other clients at Paradigm.  Or give us a robust slap on our back?  Or a pinch, or treat our bodies like they are drums.  These are major wrinkles to us, but not to Aaron.  I sure wish they were wrinkles to him, but they’re just not…….and we can’t make that happen.  

Why does he say obnoxious and even offensive things to people?  When questioned about it, he nearly always says that he was just trying to have fun.  So once again, we explain the concept of fun………and remind him over and over that his idea of fun is not usually anyone else’s idea of fun.  Does he really not get it or is he just stubborn?

Individuals with autism have a very difficult time relating to others.  Aaron doesn’t have filters, so he’ll say or do whatever comes to his mind at the moment.  Some behaviors are repetitive, and others occur at the time he may see something or someone.  We know to be observant when we’re out with Aaron as we try to intercept inappropriate behaviors.  

Aaron, don’t stare at the woman in the wheelchair.  Aaron, don’t say a word about that person’s unusual hair.  Aaron, not a peep about his tattoos.  Aaron, quit staring at her piercings.  Aaron, do not say shut-up under your breath when we pass that fussing child.  Aaron, don’t pull the box of cereal out of that huge display.  I was too late on that one.  I can still hear the sound of those falling cereal boxes in Wal-Mart.  

These are wrinkles, Aaron!!  Don’t you see them??!!

Nope.  He doesn’t see these life wrinkles at all.  It’s our job to keep teaching and to keep reminding and to keep damage at a minimum.  And often to keep a red face, depending on what he said or how offensive or embarrassing he was.  

At other times he’s funny.  Even when he’s not so funny, or when others are staring at him the way I tell him not to stare at people, I can smile and hold my head up high………..or try to walk away fast from the situation, with Aaron lumbering along quickly behind me.  HaHa!  We sure are a sight to see sometimes.

A word here, a tug there, some instruction in the hopes that it will stick, and another wrinkle is gone…….only to return, I know.  But we have to keep the wrinkles smoothed out so that Aaron’s life…..and OURS… tolerable.  

“Look, Mom.  A wrinkle!”

I know Aaron.  Believe me, I know.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thanks to Aaron......

It’s been a week since I’ve written anything about Aaron.  It’s not because he hasn’t been active……talking, arguing, laughing, eating…..plenty of eating.  Plenty of all the above, actually.  Here are some highlights of our week:

Conflict and Forgiveness:
Aaron came home last Friday with some anger.  He had a situation with someone and it wasn’t pleasant.  He was animated, bending over and rubbing his hands together as he told me what happened.  Oh boy, here we go.  He quickly conveyed the same story to Gary when he got home, but Gary and I quickly left to meet friends for dinner so there was no resolution at that moment.  It was a topic of conversation all that weekend, which is always the case.  Thankfully, things were made right at his day group.  We appreciate the staff there that care for Aaron and helped him work through it all.  Barb said that Aaron actually took the hands of the person involved and said he was sorry.  Barb was shocked and pleased at that.  I was extremely shocked and wondered if we were talking about our Aaron or someone else!  Wonders never cease……especially with Aaron!  He was so happy to rush in the door that day and tell me what happened.  “Mom!  Me and _______ made up!”   And guess what he said that was so curious?  “But it’s kind of scary to be made up with ______.”  Interesting.  I think he’s not sure that he can keep from getting frustrated again, but that’s a guess…..which is sometimes the best we do to figure out Aaron and his thinking.

We were watching Wheel of Fortune one night, and one of the contestants bought a vowel….an ‘A.’  Aaron yelled, “A!!  As in E I E I O!!”  He sang the E I E I O part like we do in the Old McDonald song.  It was too funny.  But I couldn’t help myself, so I said, “Um, Aaron……E I E I O doesn’t have an A.”  “What?” he replied.  So I repeated, “E I E I O doesn’t have an ‘A’ in it.”   He just looked at me, then cocked his head and stared into space for a few seconds.  “Oh,” he flatly replied.  Two nights later someone bought an ‘O.’  “O!!” Aaron yelled.  “As in (and he sang again), E I E I O!!”  I laughed and he laughed because E I E I O does have an ‘O.’ And all is well with the world. 

An Annoying Ear:
Aaron started complaining one night during Wheel of Fortune that his ear was stopped up and that he couldn’t hear well.  I told him that maybe we need to take him in and have his ears cleaned.  “No!” he loudly replied.  Soon after, he yawned and then happily said, “There!  My ear unpopped!”  The next day it was, “Since my ear stopped up, I have diarrhea.”  I reminded him to check his feeding frenzy list from that day before he blamed his ear.   And the next day:  “When I talk, I can hear my voice in my ear.  I can only hear the voice of me in my stopped up ear.”  Gary and I exchanged humorous glances at that comment, unknown to Aaron.  His ear is a major concern of his now and we may need to have it checked, but we’ve learned that with Aaron it’s best to wait awhile and see how it all works out……because he has a little hypochondria at times like this.  

I went in Aaron’s bedroom to say goodnight.  He was propped up in bed, reading his Handy History Answer Book.  I was nearly ready to leave the room after our goodnight when Aaron said, “Mom, look.  Michelangelo made a bad statue.”   I asked why it was bad, knowing full well the answer.  “Look,” Aaron answered as he held the book for me to see.  “So what makes it bad?” I asked again.   “It doesn’t have clothes on.  That’s strange,” Aaron said as he held it out still for me to see.  There was Michaelangelo’s David in all his glory…..and me trying to explain it to Aaron.  I was glad to say good night and shut the door.

Wonder #2:
On Wednesday, Aaron went with his group to All Star Sports.  When he got home, as he was showing me the toy rifle he picked up somewhere and brought home, and as I was telling him he needed to return it…..good grief!......I saw something protruding out of his pocket.  I asked him what was in his pocket and he said, “Oh,”……as he reached in his pocket and pulled out the something.  It was sporks.  Sporks he had nabbed off the food counter at All Star Sports.  23 Sporks.  Really?  23 Sporks?  Really.  I counted them.  23.

Wonder #3:

Aaron was very excited to run in the house the other day and hold out his hand to show me something as I heard Gary out in the garage trying to finish telling Aaron to bring it back outside.  IT was one of our caterpillars that is eating up our pecan trees.  Aaron was intrigued by IT and really wanted to show IT to me, so I waited to tell him to get rid of IT until I had oohed and aahed over IT with fake enthusiasm.  Aaron loves bugs, just as if he was still 6 years old.  I didn’t want to dampen his joy, but I was very glad when he took IT back outside. 

Yesterday Aaron was sleeping a little late, so I gingerly opened his door to find him sitting on his bed…….writing in his “Time I Go To Bed and Time I Get Up” notebook.  He wrote down 9:03, and looked at me with bleary eyes.  He was very tired, he said, and even after his shower and coffee I opened my bedroom door to find this.

So I decided to have that fun day with Aaron that I’ve told him we would someday have.  We went to the new Sam’s that was opening yesterday.  Aaron got happy real quick, and wasn’t the least bit tired. 

 Well, it was worth it to have fun……to see his smile……and to laugh as he listened to the Mariachi band playing fun songs.  He complained that they were too loud, while I loved every minute and wanted more. 

One More Laugh:
This last laugh was this morning, after Aaron drank his coffee and we were taking his cups downstairs.  I guess he got a few coffee grounds in his cup.   “Mom, that coffee you gave me still had seeds in it……like specky seeds.”  

I smiled.  And I wish he could get those specky coffee seeds out with a spork.  We have a few.

Thanks to Aaron, we have sporks.  And a mostly good week to boot.