Thursday, November 12, 2015

Speaking Autism

As an English major and sometimes writer/editor, I spend a lot of time thinking about words and language. We grammar geeks get really happy about certain words (conundrum and serendipity, be still my heart!) and spend too much time internally editing people's Facebook posts.

Listening to your kids learn to talk and start using words is a thrill. Anna was a riot and so creative I was always rushing to jot things she said down. Chloe's just moving into this stage and I look forward to it. And Ethan takes it to a whole new level.

When he was younger we were more focused on him just learning and using words and having basic conversation. But now he's moved on to inventing words or attempting to use words or phrases he's heard somewhere else in an appropriate way, and things have really gotten fun.

Standing on the front steps last week, admiring a terrific traffic jam that stretched nearly a half-mile down the street, he blurted out, "There's a 24-hour traffic jam out there!"

"Ohhh...what does that mean?"

"Mama, it's an autism word. It means a really, really bad traffic jam."

When we were having a party with pizza, chips, and soda, and he saw all of the grown ups' cups of soda around the kitchen, he announced, "It's soda-Sylvania around here!"


"That means there's soda everywhere. I WANT some!!"

In the car, he was throwing around something that ended up bumping him on the side of his head near his temple.

"Oww! That just hit my hip-head bone!"

It goes on and on. He sat down to a plate of chicken nuggets he really wanted to eat and said, "Oooh, these nuggets are charmed!" Charmed? I think it was something he got from a Narnia book.

When I was helping him put on his soccer shin guards he kept yelling and simultaneously laughing, "No! Don't touch my leg bone!" At first I thought it was his shin. This happened numerous times before I finally figured out he meant his Achilles tendon. Apparently every time someone touches it he gets ticklish while at the same time fearing somehow his foot is going to detach from his body. I tried to tell him it's actually not a bone but a muscle (and his foot is not going anywhere), but he's not hearing it.

And then there is "heart check." One day I found Ethan stopped after running around in the backyard, holding onto his heart and listening intently.

"What are you doing?"

"It's my heart. I want to make sure it's still beating."

"Honey, I guarantee you -- if you're talking to me, it's still beating."

"Mama! Let me do my heart check!"

Heart check is not to be confused with what he calls "heart kiss." This is when Ethan walks up to me and gives me a kiss on the heart, just because.

That's one I don't have to write down to remember, because it's so darned sweet.

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