J has the rudimentary makings of a forger. He will not succeed at it, but he has what it takes to -with careful training and dedication- become a master at copying people’s handwriting exactly. I know because, in my younger years, I wrote many an excuse in my mother’s handwriting and got away with it… No worries, I quit while I was ahead. Actually, I quit when I realized that I was in danger of having missed Phys Ed under the guise of having my period one time too many.
Today we had a snow day and J and I dedicated quite a bit of time to our garage/pantry/gym/that area of the house that cars never go into. During his (final) IEP on Monday we discussed one of my big undertakings this year: putting J in control of the inventory. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am willing to risk an excess of cans of chopped tomatoes so that J can learn how to manage our pantry and all its secrets.
First, however, we had to deal with the freezer that will be delivered some time tomorrow to replace the one that is about to gasp its last gasp. We discovered a few weeks ago that the light that indicates the power is on had switched from solid to a quick blink; on Saturday we had noticed the blink had slowed down, and by Tuesday it seemed more like a very wan, half-assed blink. We keep going in there, thanking it for its loyal service and begging it to hold on ’til Friday. On the plus-side: it’s so cold that I can easily store things in the coolers we keep on the balcony and nothing will be compromised. I don’t want to do that, though…
So J and I braved the garage that I’ve been cringing at since sometime in late December. The first thing we did was reorganize the shelves. Then I took out a big sketchpad so that J could write down the items we need from the store. You may wonder why the big sketchpad. Even if you’re not wondering I’ll explain: J is known for his expansive block letters…a large sketchpad is the next best thing to a wide, tall wall…
The other (not irrelevant) reason is that J copies the names of the items directly from the label. While I make sure that he doesn’t write down the brand, J will copy the name EXACTLY as it appears on the label. Whatever font is on there, regardless of how ornate, J will replicate. It doesn’t look like the one on the label, but it is as close to a reasonable facsimile as you can get without actually reproducing it. A label with “cooking oil” printed in Arial font, will be reproduced in Arial font. If you have words written in American Typewriter, J will copy them as such. Cursive gets a similar treatment. Curlicues, tails, serifs…they all get in there. If he wants to make sure that you buy the brand he likes, he will copy the logo. A list of twelve items took twelve pages.
Spacing is not his forte, either. We work hard on learning margins, but J has a tendency to get creative. Much like young children who have yet learned to estimate how much space they need, J will start too far into the line, do really well, and then -upon realizing that he has six letters to go- he will then do the equivalent of hitting the brakes and letting every upcoming letter look like it’s about to crash into a brick wall. They do, in fact, look somewhat horrified. The other effect he manages is the “turn tail and run away” effect; the letters look like they’ve realized they’re about to go over the edge of the sheet of paper, and they try to avoid it. Anthropomorphizing letters much? You bet I am!
The work that would take a Third- or Fourth grade student a matter of moments (or that I could complete in a flash) becomes a rather convoluted process. J writes what we need, and then we write it all over again. I write it in neat block letters, and he has to copy it with margins and lines I’ve drawn to accommodate his inner graffiti artist. Then we take that list, and we type things out in the Proloquo2Go. First he copies them by looking at the letters as I read them, and then he attempts to type it while I dictate the letters one by one. By the time we are done, J has earned his cookie snack, and I’m ready to not find any more things we need.
While this had been an activity we engaged in to reinforce writing skills, it is about to become a cornerstone of J’s at-home routine. His ability to work in groups for prolonged periods of time continues to be minimal. This presents a problem in the “employability” department. Even in the most independent of jobs, J would have to spend significant amounts of time working with others, and he really has very little patience for group work. If he’s in the mood, of course, he will be the most gregarious person you’ve ever met, but if he’s not…well, he closes up like a clam and that’s that. No amount of friendly cajoling, kind persuasion, outright insistence will move him to participate. We need to be ready for the time when he gets turned away from more and more opportunities because of his inclination to isolationism.
It’s not that he’s not gregarious, but the fact that he is so method-guided, and so strict with how he does things (Sheldon Cooper anyone????) leads him to easily get frustrated when he has to deal with other people’s schedules, quirks, and so on and so forth. We need, then, to work around the limitations and exploit the assets he has. We will devise a process for maintaining our pantry and household goods inventory together, and we will work towards J being able to manage it independently with monthly administrative “meetings” to make sure we don’t have more corn than is needed to feed a small army.
It’s all in the early stages. And we have to work on identifying, communicating and organizing first. We’ll get there, though…I know J, and he will fall in love with the notion of being the master of the garage.