Who’s that galloping across the plain???? It’s The Persnickety J! He’s BACK!!!!!

I don’t know how many times I had to screw caps back on bottles of unguents, creams, lotions, etc. this morning.  Until they were perfectly aligned with the label, I guess…  This was not an easy feat, mind you.  J can be very exacting when it comes to these things, and this morning he was…oh, was he ever!!!

Yes, Persnickety J is back…his reappearance was sudden, dramatic, and quite glorious.  This morning J was a cross between Jim Carrey in The Mask and George C. Scott in Patton; if I hadn’t been concentrating so much on getting the caps screwed on right (and under the gun, as it were, because he was slowing down the “getting dressed for school” process,) I would have enjoyed the moment more.  Yes, these moments can be enjoyed…mostly in hindsight, but enjoyed nonetheless.

All of you out there in “my kid is autistic” land know this feeling: it has to be just so or it’s not right.  This morning the main culprit in this battle for precision was the jar of Vicks VapoRub.  Every day, at least twice, J and I bond over Vicks VapoRub, and it had been a long time since he’d been so picky about the label/cap alignment.

What, you might ask, does J want with Vicks VapoRub at least twice a day?  Well…he doesn’t know how to blow his nose.  I know that many of you will understand how an autistic individual can possibly (at the age of nearly 18) not know how to blow his nose, but you’d be surprised at how many people react like I’ve just said J doesn’t know how to BREATHE through his nose.  “What???  He doesn’t know how to blow his nose?????  WHY????”  Try explaining that he knows how to “sniff out,” but not energetically and productively blow his nose to eject whatever is congesting it…I’ve tried to no avail.  I’ve given up on explaining and simply don’t even mention it when people say “he sounds congested.”  That’s where the Vicks VapoRub and Q-Tips come in…and the saline spray (which freaks him out but he still subjects to it,) and the vaporizer or humidifier as needed.  If you hand J a tissue, he will sniff out, wipe his nose delicately and then hand it back to you to show how pointless the whole exercise has been.  We’ve tried demonstrating…he thinks we’re funny.

Is it not true that very often it is the little things that stump us?  I have taught J how to properly fold a letter so that the address shows through the little plastic window on the envelope.  I have taught J to use almost every appliance known to our household.  I have taught J to count to 20 and to shop using a list.  I have taught J to do a lot of things that should be as easy as blowing your nose, but THAT is the one I can’t quite get him to do.  I can understand the shoe-tying thing being difficult (especially since it’s done basically upside down and involves several turns of string that is not particularly firm when it’s being handled,) but the nose blowing thing????  Yeah, that’s a bit much…

Mr. Persnickety didn’t leave for school until he was fully satisfied that every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed.  By the time the door closed behind him, I was thoroughly frayed at the edges.  My plan of attack (or entertainment) for the afternoon is simple: making cookies.  This will appeal to J’s desire for precision (how he loves those measuring cups and spoons,) and last night’s ill-timed request for a snack.  This was denied.  Much to J’s chagrin, we said NO repeatedly and, in a huff, he stomped up the stairs (was chased by Zelda, which provoked a rather funny moment of mock panic followed by a jet-fast dash of cat followed by adolescent down the stairs,) and then a return to the living room (markedly ignoring us, evil parents) to watch movies.

The deliberate way in which J was demanding perfection in label alignment this morning tells me that he was getting some pleasure out of making me jump through hoops.  I’m sure this is in direct response to our firm NO about the cookies.  You do know, of course, that even though Dada participated actively in the NO part of the evening, it is ultimately MY fault, right?  I started the N sound and then, a split second into it, Dada joined in…ergo: I am the initiator and the one who deserves all the “oh, yeah?  I’ll show you!” attitude.  Woo hoo for me…

That’s where things stand right now.  Friday morning and I am ready to face the weekend…I have a lot of things on the agenda for J to be entertained: market, pumpkin patch, library, you name it…I am hoping it will be enough.  The cookies, I hope, will soften the desire for exactitude and I will be, if not off-the-hook, at least somewhat reprieved.  We have a lot of jars and bottles here, and a lot of tea tins…and J can decide to go on an aligning rampage for his entertainment.

On a lighter note: in J’s comm book yesterday the teacher reminded me of their breakfast picnic for today, and she added “make sure to send blanket, gloves and hat”…I laughed out loud.  I know she meant gloves for the colder weather we are having in the mornings and hats to protect J’s head from the elements, but I know she’ll understand the note (and laugh) when she reads my response: “Gloves?  Hat???  HA HA HA HA,” especially since it’s one of our goals to be gloveless (check!) and hatless (somewhat check!) by the end of the school year…

Oh, well…Persnickety J rides again!!!!



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