Work for words

It seems to be working – lately we have been giving our son jobs to do if he can’t control his mouth. Last week there was one evening where that snowballed a bit, and he ended up with quite a few jobs. After getting a few jobs for saying mean things like, “you’re stupid,” when I told him he needed to stop playing computer so that we could go pick up my husband, (his dad!) from work, he got upset about how many jobs he had, and couldn’t seem to shut his mouth off, ending up with 10 jobs. Some of them were very light, though, like, “go feed your sister’s fish.”

But lately he has been able to keep the job count a bit lower. I am so proud of him. I understand how hard it is to control one’s tongue,  as I was constantly in trouble for that same thing as a child. I never dared call my mom a name, but I did get into verbal wars with my siblings, constantly. I still have a long way to go on total tongue control, which means that my poor son does not have a perfect example to follow.

Thank goodness for Jesus’ example. Jesus wasn’t always, “Minnesota Nice.” He said things that were hurtful, unpopular and got himself into trouble sometimes. But Jesus wasn’t always loud and brash, either. Sometimes he used no words at all, but let his actions do the talking.

My prayer for all of us today, and especially for those of us with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism is that we would be able to control our tongue – to really think before we speak. I pray that we would remember to carry our gripes to God, first, so that He can help us sort through what really needs to be communicated, and what we should just let go of. Often things we find offensive are just us misunderstanding a situation, or being far too petty. I ask God’s love for us, so that we can let that love cover a multitude of sins in ourselves and others, forgiving as he has forgiven us.

Doing unto others

So, one of the classic signs of autism is the inability to innately understand that others have different opinions on things than they do. Once an autistic person learns of this reality, they still do not think that is ok. They honestly think that the other person is wrong, or is just trying to make their life uncomfortable. They really don’t understand how others can want to think about or do something other than what they like.

With that in mind, we come to the always exciting, but contentious question (though it should not be, but is because of autism in the house), where should we go out to eat?

When my son was preschool age, we always went to a place he liked. When he was a little older, we tried other restaurants that we knew would have something that he would hopefully eat. I say, hopefully, because any mother of a child with ASD, and many mothers of little kids, in general, know that all hamburgers and pizzas are  not created exactly alike. So to the child, they are not the same food. Therefore, liking McDonald’s hamburger, does not guarantee liking Perkin’s hamburger, and so on.

We still choose restaurants that we know have something he will at least try, and he has gotten quite good at eating any hamburger, and almost any pizza without fussing. I am very proud of him, as that is a big step. Unfortunately for him, because he is learning to accept tiny variations in food, we have been starting to go to restaurants that are favorites of other family members, but do not have the requisite pizza or hamburger.

For instance, my daughter loves KFC. My husband and I also enjoy it. We have been to KFC before, but we try to avoid it because it brings A LOT of complaining from our son. He loves Scwhan’s chicken fries. Those are his favorite food at home. However, KFC chicken fingers are nothing like the Schwan’s. I find both to be quite tasty.

There is a KFC near the children’s school, so a week ago we went there for dinner before the school art fair. We live 20 miles from the school, so to go home for supper would not have left time to eat. Sometimes I pack a supper to eat before school functions. But I had promised my daughter that we could go to KFC, since we had been to my son’s favorite restaurant numerous times already.

As those of you with ASD kids can well imagine, we had a rather miserable dinner at KFC. Oh, the food was great, the service was wonderful, even the booth was comfortable and the restaurant clean and inviting. But my son would not stop fussing. We did get him to eat all of his dinner (two chicken strips and corn on the cob, washed down with some pop), but the whining, complaining, mouthing off, was incessant.

In previous years my husband and I would have decided that going to KFC should not happen again. We would tell our daughter that maybe mom could bring some home for her while Mark had something else, but we would not go to KFC as a family. Well, my son has truly been growing in at least his knowledge that others don’t always like what he likes. And he is starting to feel a little less threatened by that fact, though he still doesn’t exactly embrace it. He probably never will feel totally comfortable with it. I know, as an Aspie, I still find that truth to be innately uncomfortable at times, even though my experience has taught me that it is no big deal, and can even make life more fun.

We told my son that until he can learn to go to someone else’s favorite restaurant without complaining, we are not going to take him to his favorite. Because of all of his fussing at KFC, he was banned from his favorite, Wendy’s, for a week. We would have never even dreamed of trying something like this a year ago, but since we have seen some little hints of developmental readiness, we thought we would give it a try.

Yesterday there was another function at school that required us to stay close for dinner. Again we went to KFC. My son made an initial complaint, but then settled in quite nicely. He wasn’t exactly enjoying the experience, taking some reminding to take a bite of chicken or corn in between tales of the Lego sets he wanted to save his allowance to buy. But overall, he did very well. I didn’t leave the restaurant vowing to never take him there again!

I really hadn’t thought that he would behave so nicely. I figured it would take quite a few visits to other restaurants before he would earn the privelege of going back to one that he likes. I guess he was developmentally ready to take on the challenge, and the promise of being able to go back to his favorite restaurant after he behaved at someone else’s was a big motivator.

So next Tuesday we are going to Wendy’s for supper before yet another school function. Welcome to the end of the school year!

My family thinks I am making things up.

(You Want to Test My Kid for What? Devotional #2)

Ecclesiastes 7:8  “Patience is better than pride.”

I am a very analytical person, and I have been known to struggle with overinflated fears. On the other hand, my mother and sister like to take life as it comes. My husband is analytical, but he tends to look at life from a more optimistic perspective than I.

So when I shared with these individuals that I thought the baby may have autism, they pretty much laughed at me. The good thing about no one else recognizing his disability is that he was treated like a normal child. No pity was given or special allowances made. All hopes and dreams for a normal life for him were firmly intact. He was loved and adored as the whole child God created him to be.

The bad news, from a human perspective, is that he did not start receiving the assistance that he needed until much later. However, from an eternal perspective, there is no bad news. God knew the family He was placing this child into. He knew when this child’s disability would be recognized. Everything is going according to His plan.

Are your concerns or the concerns of others about your child grounded in reality? Are you finding yourself needing to wait for others to agree with you that your child needs help?

Remember that God cares more about your child than even you do, and He can work miracles in the lives of everyone involved.