18/03/2011

Portraits of Autism #16

"Si tu manges ton dîner, tu auras de la force."
So my husband told our autistic 8 year old at dinner last night:
'Eat your dinner: it will give you strength'.

His little mind started computing straight away. If I eat my dinner I will have ... what? You will give me what?
He's hoping we'll say ice-cream. I can see it in his eyes, hear it in his tone.

But no. He knows that's not it, so he's going to try and understand. He points to pot of stir fried cabbage in front of him: 'This is strength?', and then to the pot of curried prawns, 'Is this strength?'.

It's hard not to laugh. But we don't because it's something he's highly sensitive to. It will start him off if we so much as smile. Also, this is the first time we see him trying to figure out the meaning of an abstract word.

So explain: strength is when you become strong, when you have muscles on your arms, and we flex our biceps, Popeye style.

'No!' he shouts. 'Not strength. Strength is going away now. Max is going to bed.'

Now it's not funny: he's upset, and he's scared. He tried to understand something new, and things didn't work out, at all. Throughout the rest of dinner, he's locked in and he keeps repeating 'not strength, not strength'.

In bed, he's tossing and turning, mumbling: 'No, not strength, not strength'.
But by the morning he's fine. Chirpy even.

Hopefully, he'll give this asking questions lark another go, and another, until he figures out everything he needs to know. And I'll make sure I have drawing materials at hand next time he tries.





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1 comment:

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Fascinated by this - did you find out why he reacted the way he did?

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