Language skills

No, not for them, silly.  For us.

There’s plenty of quality stuff out there about building up the language skills of people who live with autism.  But what about those of us who live with them and care for them?

Living with our son is like taking several years of foreign language in school.  You autism for dummiesbecome proficient – you think.  Then you travel to the country where it’s spoken and you run into regional dialects and accents.  Yes, you learned the formal language.  But you can’t communicate with the natives.

So today Joey threw open our bedroom door at zero dark thirty.  Haloed by blinding light from the hallway behind him, he said, Mom has to clean up the floor.  In my understanding of his language, that means

a) I’m asking for Mom because she will be patient and tender whereas dad is a grumpy jerk and will upset me;

b) I had a bathroom accident.

Being a chivalrous kinda guy, I tried to let Mom sleep.  I rolled out of bed and into the hallway, my arm flailing for a switch to swat off the light.

I endeavored to be patient and tender in my affect beyond that.

Sure enough, there was a towel on the bathroom floor.  Joey will drop a towel, like a football ref throwing a penalty flag, on an “accident.”  But the towel was dry.  There was no accident.  He’d just put it there to keep his feet warmer on this cold morning.

Joey, where is clean up the floor?  (See, I’m pretty good at his language).

It’s clean up the floor for the bed?  (He inflects statements as questions when responding to questions.  I hope you’re taking notes).

Now my patient and tender was just about to leave the building.  Had he wet the bed?  He hasn’t had a bed accident in ages.  Grabbing up piss soaked bedding and doing loads of laundry on a cold dark morning did not appeal.  Remember, friends, this is all unfolding before I’ve had even a whiff of coffee.

But the bed was dry.  The blankets were dry.  What the…?

It seems that the fitted sheet hand come undone at one corner. That’s right, in his language clean up the floor is now a regional colloquialism for the bed’s unmade.

The stuff they don’t teach you in care giving school.  Sigh.


4 thoughts on “Language skills

  1. SO TRUE!

    Our son has a brain injury and seizure disorder acquired when he was 9 years old, now is 30.
    “JL” doesn’t experience pain in a ‘typical’ way. He could have a spear sticking out his chest and not even ‘feel’ it…go figure. JL’s seizures are better controlled these days. Yet I must reveal he has some very unique seizure events. Ex: he stops, gets a far off look and screams at the top of his lungs and then the fight/flight area of his brain takes over, he runs. I mean he runs…fast…screaming, you get the picture. What is real interesting is if/when he has one of these so in public, the looks we get. 😃He always comes out sayin I just had a big so or I’m sorry, l’m sorry, I’m sorry. Thank God he forgets them!
    Well this is a long story to get to the relivence of speaking a different language.
    Sunday JL started having sz’s Monday they are getting more intense/frequent and they continue on today. Being the trooper he is he wanted to go on with his regular daily activities. Yet, another sz’s and him saying he just threw up. He was taken back home and had his temp taken, 99.6, then half an hour later 100 temp (he also usually runs a low temp so this is significant). JL’s body was telling us he was getting sick. His helpers at his home give him Tylenol per nursing order.
    When asked how he was feeling he said fine, kind of tired,then fell asleep.
    We cont. To learn JL’s “language” I believe it is a lifelong class!😉

    • Yes, that’s it – a life long class because they get to change the language whenever they want! We are along for the ride, and our guides to familiar phrases are always out of date. Thank you for being such loving care givers to JL 🙂 Love is still the universal language.

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