Monday, December 10, 2007

My Son with ASD: Quirky but Capable

Today I have two stories for you. One reveals how quirky my kid can be and the other reveals one of his many capabilities. Both stories occurred last Saturday, December 8.

A Quirky Moment

On Saturday night we visited a house famous in our small city for a fantastic Christmas light display and warm hospitality (our sons received candy canes.) My boys were excited and we spent at least thirty minutes walking around the yard on the well-packed down snow. A life-size manger scene balanced some of the more commercial designs which included white and colorful lights, modern-day inflatable designs (The Grinch, a trio of snowmen, cute dogs, etc.)and an artificial horse with a Santa carriage.

The outside temperature did not top 20 degrees that night. Despite being dressed warmly, we were still shivering when we returned home even though our van's heating system had efficiently warmed the vehicle. Much to my surprise, the shivers did not go away upon returning home. Our normally toasty house felt quite chilly.

I mentioned this to my husband and he had replied that he turned the thermostat up a little. I checked the one we have downstairs. The temperature was in the low 60s although the thermostat was set to 74 degrees.

'Uh, Oh,' I thought. We had had our boiler system replaced three years ago, so I was really hoping we weren't in for an expensive fix.

Then another thought occurred to me. This past summer when it was really hot, I discovered that our house was extra warm because both of our thermostats were set to 90 degrees. I am pretty sure my oldest boy (the one who likes to fuss with buttons, switches, etc. during silly moments) had been the culprit.

That memory inspired me to check the upstairs thermostat. Sixty degrees. Problem solved. My four-year-old plead complete innocence and I believed him because there was no way he could reach it. There really is only one suspect--the nine year old with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

I have no idea why he turns the thermostat up when it is hot and down when it is cold outside. Perhaps the outcomes are coincidental. But knowing my son, he probably knows exactly what is going to happen when the knob is turned a certain way. Whatever the case, his tendency to play weather controller in our home is definitely quirky.

The Capable Moment

Yesterday, I had to abandon cooking dinner for a few minutes to help my four-year-old. He was afraid to go to the bathroom by himself and this particular trip was going to take a little while if you know what I mean.

I had the tacos nearly finished. The meat had been cooked and seasoned. The lettuce and cheese were ready to go. The only thing I had to do is chop up the tomatoes. One tomato was left lying by itself on my counter.

I sat nearby in an room adjacent to the little half-bathroom we have and talked to my little guy so he knew I was there. My back was to the kitchen when I heard a somewhat alarming noise.

Clang. Clang. Clang. It was the sound of a bowl and some sort of utensil banging around.

"What on earth are you doing," I called out to my nine year old.

No reply. I had left out his name when addressing him, which is usually a necessity. Earlier, my older son had been claiming extreme hunger which had been my impetus to start cooking. I figured he was getting into the food I had prepared.

Giving up on conventional conversation,I decided to take a peak. The utensil in question turned out to be a knife. My son was cutting up the tomato! He had done this entirely on his own. The pieces were a bit big, but there were already quite a few in the bowl.

"Oh, you are helping me!"

"I am surprising you, aren't I mom?" came the reply.

"Yes you are," I said. I praised him a little and then we told his dad, who also provided positive feedback.

Our son's actions came as a surprise and a thrill. Yes, he had helped me in the kitchen before and has shown a lot of interest in cooking. He has also prepared peanut butter sandwiches by himself. However, this was the first time he had actually helped me without being asked or at least prompted.

Someday he may be a professional chef, or maybe he'll just impress his girlfriend/wife with his cooking abilities. Whatever the case, my son with ASD is quite capable in the kitchen.

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