Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Boy is Caesar, Sun Tzu, and Genghis Effin' Khan

We've been dealing with some "behaviors" of late.  (That's polite autism-speak for "my kid has been an uncooperative asshole.")  I told the school that I wanted a behavior plan.  I was told that he didn't need one, presumably because he hadn't started any fires.  The behaviorist was happy with the compliance trials.  The behaviorist didn't have to live or work with my son on a daily basis.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, a compliance trial rewards tokens to kids for doing what they're told.  When they get enough tokens, they get a special reward.  The idea is to get them back on track, but my boy works around it.  It goes like this:

Boy:  I want a cookie!
Aide:  You need to finish writing your letters first.
(Boy throws himself on floor in boneless, jellyfish fashion and refuses to do anything.)
Aide:  Touch your nose!  (Boy touches his nose.) Good touching your nose!  (Puts token on board.)  Touch your mouth!  (Boy touches his mouth.)  Good touching your mouth!  (Puts another token on board.)  Okay, sit up and you can have your cookie.
Boy:  Thank you.  (Eats cookie, then throws himself on floor in boneless, jellyfish fashion all over again.)

When I brought this up at the IEP meeting, that he's figured out how to manipulate the trials, the behaviorist said, "Well, I don't know if intellectually he understands what he is doing."

If I had been drinking my water, I would've done a spit-take right across the table.

My boy knows exactly what he's doing.  He is a military genius.  He is a criminal mastermind.  He is an effin' Sith Lord.

When there is something he wants that is closely guarded--cookies, for instance--he creates a diversion.  I'll be in the kitchen working on dinner, and he'll ask for a snack.  I'll say, "No, it's almost dinner time."  Then he will rage.  Or he won't.  It's when he doesn't rage that I should get my guard up, because he's about to eff with me big time.  He quietly backs out of the kitchen, and I, relieved that there was no hysterical scene, foolishly go back to food preparation.

That's when I hear the shower.

He's turned it on full blast and aimed it out of the tub, onto the bathroom floor.  I go running in.

"What are you doing?!  STOP IT!  YOU'LL FLOOD THE HOUSE!"  And then, while I'm mopping and cursing, he slips into the kitchen and takes whatever he wants.

He's a master tactician.  Some of his plans I haven't even figured out yet.

"How did you do that?  How did you DO that?!"  Then I just step back and take a deep breath and whistle through my teeth.  You've got to admit, he's got a mind for strategy.  

In the middle of the night, he's pretended to fall back to sleep so I would get back in bed and not thwart his plans to paint the kitchen floor with dish soap.  Or he'll say, "Go to sleep, please, Mommy," and I'll know he's up to something, but I don't know what.

And now he's learned to pick locks.

I'm not even kidding.  We hid the keys to the kitchen locks, so he used my car keys to open them.  He helped himself to a huge serving of chocolate ice cream on the couch.  So my husband locked ALL the keys in the closet and then hung the closet key around his neck.

So the boy punched out the accordion sides of the air conditioner, and while we were fussing with duct tape to fix it, he picked the freezer lock with a pair of scissors and helped himself to more ice cream.

"How did you DO that?!"  Then I tried to unlock the freezer with a pair of scissors, but I couldn't figure it out.

He's doing all of this without any help.  Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Stonewall Jackson all commanded huge armies.  They had underlings.  My kid is pulling this off all by himself.  I thank God I didn't have twins.

So, Behaviorist Lady.  Never underestimate my kid.  He's not one of Skinner's rats pushing on a lever to get a pellet.  He goes for the full-on mind-fuck, and he's going to tear your little plan apart.

If I didn't need it to work so badly, I'd almost find it entertaining.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Autism and the Art of Defenestration

Defenestrate (dēˈfenəˌstrāt/) v. To throw out a window
I love this word.  I believe I use it more often than the general population does.  I teach middle school, and in my work setting, it's a remarkably handy word.
"Put the cell phone away, or I will be forced to defenestrate it." 
And then I explain.  Defenestrate provides its own teachable moment.  The word comes from fenêtre, which is the French word for window.  The Latin prefix "de" means "out of."  This beautiful little word allows me to teach vocabulary--covering affixes and the origin of the English language, beginning with the ancients and up through the Norman Invasion--all while threatening my students in a memorable way.
Can you use it in a sentence?
The boy defenestrated his shoes

Here's where I'm going with this:  Have you ever seen a shoe on the side of the road and wondered how it got there?  Well, wonder no more.  It was my kid.  Mystery solved.

This is a new thing.  It started a couple of weeks ago, as he rode home in Grandma's car.  He took off his shoes and socks and threw them out the window.  She didn't notice.  Fortunately, my husband was following them in his car, and pulled over to get the shoes.  We had a good laugh about it and remarked how lucky we were that my husband saw what happened and was able to rescue the shoes!

Alas, our luck changed.  The other day, we met at Dairy Queen after work.  The boy was in raptures over his little cup of ice cream.  I had more errands to run, so my husband took him home.  When I got home, I found my frantic husband tearing the car apart while the boy stood barefoot in the driveway.
Lonely shoe seeks mate.

He'd done it again. 

"Can you go look?" my husband asked.  No problem!  I didn't mind.  I had an audiobook in the car, anyway.

I started back down the road, retracing the route my husband had taken.  I drove slowly and scanned the road for the shoes.  My eyes were zipping back and forth so quickly, I felt like one of those Cylons from Battlestar Galactica.  (The old ones, not the updated ones.)

It is 6.7 miles from my house to the Dairy Queen--6.7 miles of winding mountain roads with no shoulder, let alone a sidewalk.  But I did not give up hope.  Three miles in, and I saw one sneaker in the middle of the road!  Success!  I had to drive down the road a bit to find a spot to pull over.  I ran back up the road, waited for a car to pass, and then snatched up the sneaker.  I figured the other one was probably close by, so I paced up and down the road and checked the bushes and the ditches for the shoe.  It occurred to me that I should have changed into running shoes myself, instead of hiking along in my work heels.  Several motorists stopped to see if I was all right.  See, unless you're in workout gear, you do not just walk this road.

On my way back to the car, I spotted his sock.  Yes!  How did I know it was his sock?  Mother's intuition.  Plus, it was still warm.  I swear I was like an outback animal tracker.

I continued down the road, where I saw another sock...and yes, it was his.  Excellent.  I was making progress, and I'd only been gone for an hour.  Two socks, one shoe.  Back in the car, continued down the road.  What are those lights?  Uh, oh.  Police.  Apparently, there was a fender bender at the intersection where we'd turned right after we'd left Dairy Queen.  I hoped to God it wasn't caused by a flying shoe...

I banged a U-ey (that's Jersey-speak for a slightly illegal U-turn) and headed back from whence I had come, still searching the road, when my Cylon-sensors picked up on something familiar.  I pulled over.  It wasn't black like the shoe, but yellow--my husband's golf hat.  He didn't even realize it was missing.  

Two socks, one shoe, one hat.

Text from my husband:  "Give up and come home.  He's melting down."


I crept home, hoping to find that other shoe, but...nothing.  I was so disappointed.  I felt defeated by this sneaker.  That was a week ago, and I'm still looking.  This shit has gotten personal.  I'm obsessed with finding this effin' shoe.  It will be my downfall.  I'm Captain Ahab and this damned sneaker is my Moby Dick.  Even my 11 year-old has tried to get me to give up.

"Mom, it's been a week.  It's rained four times and the mowers went by.  Let it go.  The shoe is gone."

I guess you've got to be pretty effed up when a sixth grader becomes your voice of reason.  Maybe one last search.

Thus, I give up my spear!