asperger syndrome

All posts tagged asperger syndrome

Jellybean Philosophy

Published April 22, 2012 by April Fox

My little guy offered me a jellybean a little while ago. It was misshapen, long and tapered, nothing like the bean after which it was named. He held it out without comment, gripped it between two long, double-jointed fingers, and below the hood of his coat his eyes smiled out from behind his red-framed glasses. His nose scrunches up when he smiles like that, and I know he’s really happy.

He offered me the jellybean, and I wasn’t sure whether he wanted me to have it, or just wanted me to see it. It was, after all, an anomalous jelly bean, and things like that are interesting. “Cool,” I said, “That one’s shaped funny.”

Thing One smiled even bigger and pushed the bean closer to my face. “I know, it’s not even like a bean. It’s long and pointy. You can have it.”

I gave him the Automatic Mom Response: “No baby, you eat your jelly bean. Thank you, but you don’t have to give me your candy.”

Thing One faltered, let the smile wobble for a second but kept the jellybean there, suspended between us. “You can have it,” he said. “It’s a cool one. I’m giving it to you.”

Thing One has always been taken with food oddities; his siblings give him the longest, curliest curly fries, and we all make sure to point out vegetables shaped like letters or animals or other non-vegetable objects. Often, he will take these things, wrap them in plastic bags and store them in the freezer until sufficient time has passed that the food is coated with ice and no longer recognizable as something that used to be food, and we throw them out with the appropriate amount of respect and ceremony. Not this time, though. This time, he offered it to me.

I ate the jellybean. It was delicious, as far as jellybeans go. And not to get all amateur philosopher on you here, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could all look at things that are a little different from the norm and see the beauty in the variation, rather than relegating them to the bin of discards and damaged goods?

My little guy is like that jellybean: a little different, but totally worth gobbling up. There’s good stuff in that kid of mine. Kind of makes me feel guilty for raiding his stash of Easter candy while he’s asleep…

The Migrating Patterns of Winged Canadians, and Other Mysteries

Published March 22, 2012 by April Fox

Thing one, as you know, is a lovely combination of brilliant and autistic. If he’s interested in something, he researches the hell out of it, studies it, lives in it. He can tell you everything you want to know about Star Wars, the solar system, Dungeons and Dragons; he knows a whole lot about a whole lot of things, but obviously, ornithology is not one of those things.

Thing one: Baby girl says Canada geese-wait, is that even a real thing?
Me: Yes.
Thing one: Okay, she says that Canada geese fly-wait, can geese even fly?
Me: Yes.
Thing one: Okay, maybe I’m thinking of ducks. Can ducks fly?
Me: Yes.
Thing one: Maybe it’s chickens. Can chickens fly?
Me: Some of them can, yes.
Baby girl: I’m pretty sure you’re thinking of penguins. Penguins can’t fly.
Thing one: Penguins, ducks, whatever. Ducks can’t fly as high as hawks, right?
Me: I don’t think I’ve ever seen one flying that high, no.
Thing one: Okay, good. [I don’t know why it’s good. I didn’t ask.] Anyway, baby girl says that Canada geese fly south in the spring and north in the winter. Is that true?
Me: No.
Thing one: HA. I knew I was right about something in there.

And with that resolved, he went back to his maps.


Where the Hell is Lisa’s Car? Or, How My Kid Kicked Prepositional Ass

Published March 7, 2012 by April Fox

There’s a special kind of magic in homeschooling your kids. The closeness you feel as you sit side-by-side reading, the glee that bubbles over along with the lava that pours out from the homemade volcano, the omifuckinggod what was I thinking that goes along with trying to teach anything that isn’t 100% logic-based and static to a skinny bundle of autistic genius… oh yeah. There is that.

Thing one was working in his language arts book the other day. Most of the time, I pretty much leave him alone when it comes to schooling, because he kind of just soaks everything up on his own, figures out math through logic, and remembers everyfreakingthing, including and not limited to that time five years ago when his brother ate all the French fries from McDonald’s and I NEVER GOT MY POTATO FRIES! HE OWES ME POTATO FRIES! Still, there are things he needs to learn, and autistic or not, I refuse to have a kid who doesn’t have a basic grasp of grammar, so after some cajoling and grumbling and threatening to take away the video games on my part, thing one installed himself on the couch with his book and his scowl and his pencil and got to work.

And then the fun began.

“I already know what a prepositional phrase is. Why do I have to do this?”

“Because you do,” I tell him. “That’s your assignment. You need to practice, keep it fresh in your mind.”

Thing one heaves an exaggerated sigh. “Fine,” he says, which translates into, “I can’t believe you’re making me do this, but if I ever want to lay my hands on an Xbox controller again, I might as well get to work… I can’t wait till I’m the boss of the world. Then we’ll see who’s studying prepositional phrases. Mmmm-hmmm.” I know how the kid thinks. Trust me.

A few minutes later: “This doesn’t make sense. It says to add a prepositional phrase to the end of each sentence.”

“Okay, so add a prepositional phrase to the end of each sentence.” Sometimes the Obvious Fairy needs to visit thing one.

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

Another exaggerated sigh. He hates when I can’t read his mind. “It says ‘Lisa pulled over her car.'”

“Okay, so what’s the problem? Just write down where she pulled over.”



“I don’t know this Lisa person.”

Oh boy.

“Do you know anybody named Lisa?” he asks.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Would you let me go in the car with a stranger?”

“Of course not.”

“Well then,” he says, “how the heck am I supposed to know where this Lisa person pulled her car over?”

“She’s hypothetical, thing one.”

“Okay,  if she’s hypothetical, I can technically deny her existence, and unless someone proves to me that she does exist, I don’t have to write this down, and if they do prove it, they can tell me where she pulled over.”



I’m terrified of the rematch.


The Pissed-Off Cat Theory of Autism and Education

Published March 5, 2012 by April Fox

Take one already cranky cat.
Pull its tail until it tries to bite you.
Stuff it in a small crate.
Spray it with water.
Dangle a hot dog in front of its nose, just out of its reach.
Spray it again. A bunch, like, till it looks like it got caught in a rain storm.
Open the door and try to hug it.
The result is what it’s like trying to get my autistic kid to write about a hypothetical situation for school today.

More on this later, when I can hear my own thoughts.

Autism and Oatmeal

Published February 24, 2012 by April Fox

My son, thing one, is 13 and has autism-Asperger syndrome, to be exact. Now this isn’t one of those Poor Me posts, or Look How Much I’m Doing for My Wonderful but Challenging Child, or some shit like that. He’s only called autistic because he needed some therapies, and they weren’t covered without an official diagnosis. He’s a weird, quirky, cranky, hilarious kid who happens to fit the DSM-IV criteria for Asperger’s. So do I, for that matter. So does beloved. So do probably half the people we hang out with. No biggie.

Still, the Aspie thing can make life pretty interesting around here.

The other day, baby girl decided to poll everyone about their breakfast preferences and graph the results. Unfortunately, thing one was at the table with the pad of graph paper, working on a map. He’s always working on a map. All day, every day, maps maps maps. Baby girl tells him she needs a sheet of paper.

“Why? asks thing one.

“Because I need it,” says baby girl. “I’m making a graph.”

Thing one dismisses her with a sigh. “I’m making a MAP,” he says. “You can wait.”

This, of course, is the switch that wakes up the evil preadolescent side of my charming baby girl. “MOOOOMMMMMM! He won’t give me any PAPERRRRRR!”

“I’m aware, child. I’m right here. Thing one, give your sister a piece of paper. Baby girl, don’t yell.”

“I didn’t yell.”

“I’m using the paper.”

Big mom sigh here. “You’re not using all the paper, thing one. Give your sister some paper.”

Thing one hauls his skinny body out of the chair, unfolding like one of those super-long Arby’s curly fries, and hands baby girl the pad of paper. “Here. Take it out of the back. Be very careful. Don’t touch my map. You’ll mess it up.”

Thank you,” says baby girl. 

“Mmmmmm-hmmmm,” says thing one, channeling his inner Niecy Nash.

Several minutes later, baby girl has successfully determined that she, thing two and I all prefer oatmeal to cold cereal for breakfast. And then she asks thing one.

“What kind of cereal?” asks thing one.

“Just cereal,” says baby girl.

“What? There is no such thing as just cereal.”

“Cheerios,” I tell him.

“Real Cheerios? Or the organic stuff in the squished box from the hippie store?”

“Real ones.”

“We never have real Cheerios. Well we did one time, I think. They were on sale. But we never have them, so if I pick that, I probably don’t get breakfast.”

“It’s hypothetical, thing one. But fine. Hippie Cheerios,” I tell him, being very conscious of my eyeballs and the effort it takes not to roll them.

“Plain or honey nut?”

“Honey nut.”

“Hmmmmmmm…” ponders thing one. Thing one ponders a lot. It’s pretty cute. Satisfied, he moves on to the oatmeal. “What kind of oatmeal?”

GOD,” says baby girl.

“God-flavored oatmeal? I’m not eating that,” chuckles thing one. He’s pleased with his wit, and clearly enjoying irking his sister. “What real, non-mythical flavor is this hypothetical oatmeal?” I’m not kidding-my kid really talks like this.

“Brown sugar,” baby girl manages to squeeze through clenched teeth.

“Plain brown sugar or maple and brown sugar?”

“PLAIN!” growls baby girl.

“Hmmmmm…” More pondering, and then, “I don’t believe I’ve ever had plain brown sugar oatmeal, so I can’t answer that.”

“FINE,” says baby girl. “Maple, then. Maple and brown sugar hypothetical NON-MYTHICAL-FLAVORED OATMEAL.”

“Oh,” says thing one, with his most innocent and winning smile. “Why didn’t you say so? I would prefer oatmeal.”

“God,” says baby girl.

“Tasty,” says thing one.

A few minutes later, beloved walks into the room. Baby girl repeats her cereal versus oatmeal question for him.

“Hmmmmmm…” ponders beloved. “What flavor is the oatmeal?”

Attack of the Baby Mutant Cows

Published February 20, 2012 by April Fox

I have a confession:

I am a meanie. Not a small-time, eat-your-vegetables meanie, but a big time, mafia-grade, clean-your-room meanie. I was informed of this fact today, and not for the first time.

My kids are usually pretty good about chores. They know what their jobs are, and they do them when they’re asked to, most of the time. At most, all it takes is for me to hit them with “Dude, seriously? I asked you to do this ten minutes ago,” and they’re on it. [Around here, my “dude” is what yelling is to some moms. That’s how the kids know I’m serious.] The two things they can’t seem to grasp are picking up after themselves-the basic every day stuff, like throwing away their empty juice boxes instead of leaving them scattered around the house like relics from the Hello Kitty Belly Washers era-and cleaning their rooms.

O god, the dreaded room cleaning.

The other night, baby girl fell asleep in my bed watching a movie, and I carried her to her room. At her doorway, she lifted her head and said in her precious sleepy voice, “I’ll walk from hewe. My woom is too messy.” She was right, her woom was pretty messy, but I managed to get her to her bed. Today, though, it was time. Her room needed attention desperately. If her bedroom was a celebrity, it would be Kanye West at the Grammys, okay?

I sprung the bad news on her in the kitchen:

“Hey, baby girl.”

“Oh no. What?”

“Your room needs cleaned.”



“Muuuuuuunnnh. I knew you were going to say that.”

Thing one then decides to join the conversation.

“Haha, you have to clean your room.”

“So do you, actually,” I tell him.


“Listen! What is that? You people aren’t humans, you’re like mutant baby cows. What is that noise?”

“I don’t want to clean my room,” says thing one.

“Duh,” I tell him. “Nobody does. But it needs done, and it won’t take long.”

“Muuuuuuuuunh,” says thing one.

“Moooooooo,” I say, hoping that’s Mutant Cow for just quit whining and do it already. I must have mispronounced it, because the kids just laughed at me.

“Go on,” I say, reverting back to my native English. “Get it done.”

“Why?” asks baby girl.

Seriously? She’s not two, she’s ten. Why is not a question at this age, it’s a stalling tactic and an attempt to make you grow tired of the conversation and tell her whatever, who cares, just leave me alone so I can take a bath.

Doesn’t work with me. I’m old and cranky and unfortunately for her, she’s the youngest of a huge litter and I got bored with the tricks a long time ago, back when her oldest siblings were silly enough to think they’d work. “Because it’s messy. Duh. Go.”

“Your room isn’t clean,” says thing one.

Oh, but see, they’re smart kids, but I’m experienced at this. Normally, what thing one said is true, but I knew what I’d be up against. My room is clean. Ha. Now what, kiddies?

Baby girl finally resorts to that last, desperate hope, the thing that all kids fall back on when they know they’re in the final stages of a losing battle.

“It’s not fair.”

Oh reeeally, child. “What’s not fair?”

“That I have to clean my room.”

“No, see, here’s the thing about that. It’s your room. It’s your mess. It’s your stuff all over the place in YOUR room. It’s totally fair that you should have to clean it up. What wouldn’t be fair is if I had to clean it up, or if I asked you to clean my room.”

At that point, the fight goes out of her, thing one knows when there’s no chance of escaping, and the room cleaning commences.


Five minutes later, thing one is back. “Thing two isn’t helping,” he says. [Note: thing one has asperger syndrome. He is brilliant and stubborn and while he can probably take your computer apart and reassemble it while you’re figuring out which end of the cord plugs into the wall, logical reasoning isn’t always his strong point. He is also 13. That just adds to the hilarity. Har har.]

Apparently thing two is still outside on his bike, not having been informed that it was room-cleaning time. He’s gathered up and brought inside, and they get to work. Two minutes later, thing one is back again. “There’s a bunch of clothes everywhere,” he says. “What do I do with them?”

“Put them away,” I tell him.

“Oh. Okay. Yes, that makes sense,” and off he goes with his little scientist voice and skinny wrists sticking out of his cuffs. [If you watch “The Big Bang Theory,” you have seen my child in action. He is Sheldon, down to needing His Spot to sit on.]

One minute later, he’s back. “Some of the clothing appears to be dirty.”

“Put it in the dirty clothes, then.”

“Oh.” Thing one considers this for a moment. “Would it be okay if I placed them in a pile and then carried them to the laundry all at once? That might be easier than taking each item one by one.”

“I think that’s a fabulous idea. Make a pile. Good job.”

“I know. I’m full of fabulous ideas,” he says, and of course he’s correct.

Eventually, the rooms got clean…ish. As clean, I suppose, as they’re going to. The kids have more stuff than places to store it, and they might possibly have inherited my tendency toward creative organization. Most importantly, though, they survived my incredible meanness and unfairness relatively unscathed, though the scars may linger forever.

Poor, poor baby mutant cows.

Understanding the High-Functioning Autistic Child

Published June 24, 2009 by April Fox

Understanding the High-Functioning Autistic Child
Kids with high-functioning autism have some unique needs, but all it takes is a little bit of attention to make their lives, and yours, easier.

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