Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vignettes: How Far We Have Come

We sit in one of our regular venues, but not on our regular day.
"No mac and cheese today," Joey repeats for the fifteenth time as we are shown a table. "Mac and cheese on Monday."
"Yes, love," I hug him to help calm him. "They only have mac and cheese on Mondays." (this is actually true; this place has a food bar with daily "specials." Mac and cheese is Mondays.) "Let's see what else you can have."
Andy presses against Grandma, placing his feet on the wall and his back against Grandma's shoulder. No part of him actually touches the seat.
"No Mac and cheese today. No mac-a-roni and cheese."
"No, love. Here, look, read here. You can have chicken strips, or a cheeseburger..."
"CHEEEEEESEburger?" Andy croons with faux surprise.
"... or a grilled cheese sandwich. What would you like to eat?"
"Mac and cheese." He points to one of the games on teh kid menu, a word-find... with mac and cheese as one of the words to find.
"They don't have that on Thursday, honey. Would you like chicken strips?"
"Chicken strips! I want chicken strips!" Andy claps and gives Grandma's shoulder a break by flopping suddenly onto his bottom.
Joey sadly orders a grilled cheese sandwich. Andy, who usually just gets the food bar so he can have all-you-can-stuff-in-your-mouth-bacon-buffet, orders chicken strips. We get some jello and green beans from the bar to try to calm Joey while he waits for the food he doesn't really want.
It arrives, and Joey wolfs down the sandwich, though he continues to look depressed while doing it, and does it by first picking off some cheese, then nibbling the bread, then digging off more cheese...
"I want chicken," Joey announces, eyeing Andy's plate.
"You just had your lunch. That is Andys lunch," I remind him. "Do you want some salad?" Joey looks dejected.
"You want chicken?" Andy chimes. "Here, I cut you a piece." With that Andy carefully cuts a chicken strip in half, and gives the piece to Joey, who is ecstatic.
I think my mom could have cried.


There is a brightly-colored restaurant called "Joe's Crab Shack" next to one of our regular haunts. My apologies to fans of the chain, but ours really sucks. The food is bad, the service terrible, and we don't bother to go back. However, the exterior is extremely interesting and attractive to children. Adding to this charm is the fact it sports Joey's name in big, red letters all over it.
"Why don't we go there?" Joey demands, indicating the place with eyes and turned head rather than pointing.
"Yucky food!" Andy replies matter-of-factly, and without missing a beat. Yes, indeed.


We wait for Andy to come out of OT. I get on the floor and play block-building with Joey, but he can't focus all that long. He gets up and starts pretending to be a dinosaur, a t-rex, and knocks over my building. I rebuild, and he roars and knocks everything down again.
"I'm a dinosaur!" he roars, and wreaks more havoc upon my quickly-constructed village. He stomps out into the hall, roars, stomps back to repeat the catastrophe. He roars more and stomps out into the hall.
"And people keep saying autistic kids have no imagination," my mom chortles.
Rooooooaaaaaaaar stomp stomp stomp.


"What did you do in school today?" I press Joey for some conversation. He flashes me "the look", but attempts to create words, anyway. You know "the look." The "I can't believe you're going to make me work" look.
"I had fun." Ah, the canned answer.
"What did you do to have fun?" I press.
"Igisee {snork snork hiss hiss}"* he flops back, tosses his head to one side and chants to avoid the task.
"Silly boy. Tell me one thing you did today."
"I play with Mrs. Huff."
"Did you play a game?"
"Igisee {snork snork hiss hiss}!"
"Did you play a game?"
"I got a prize!" Well, he must have done something good. They don't always get prizes.
"Good job! Wow!"
"No prize today! SAAAAAWY!Sumday!**"
"No prize?"
"Igisee {snork snork hiss hiss}!"
"Did you win a prize today, Joey?"
(Suddenly with focus) "Yes! I won a prize! I win a sticker!"
"Did you win a sticker at school?"
"No. I get a sticker and Andy doesn't." Ah, He is referring to our sticker campaign.
"Yes, you are well on your way to earning a sticker. What was your prize today?"
"I played with Mrs. Huff and Mrs. Macy." This is a scripted answer. To a different question.
"Tell me one thing you did today, Joey."
"I ride bus 30!"
"Yes, you did! All the way to school! What did you do at school?"
"I had fun."
"What did you do to have fun?"
"I did bubble machine!"

Ah, the trickles of gold that fall from those lips.

*Joey often takes phrases he likes and "soundifies" them- the words themselves melt into approximation sounds, and thus lose meaning in favor of perserveration on the sounds, tones, and inflections. Reduced to nonsense sound, he then uses them to "fill" voids of sound, as oral stim, as avoidance strategies, or uses them for sensory processing or language processing stall. This particular set of sounds is from "I go to sleep!" and then the sounds of pretend snoring. My response, "silly boy", is often demanded by him ("Say, 'Silly boy!', Mommy!"), and seems to be a self-imposed cue for continuing conversation.

** "Sorry! Someday!" This is apparently a pat answer from school when he can't have something or do something, especially things he isn't old enough to have or do.

1 comment:

Niksmom said...

My favorite has to be the sharing of the chicken strips. Your boys are awesome! :-)