Roundabout

IMG_4008  "Periphrastic" is a term that refers to when more than one word is used to a "grammatical notion." In Latin, for instance, something called the passive periphrastic uses the future passive participle (this would look like this: faciendum) plus a form of the verb "to be" (esse). Id faciendum est means "this must be done"; both the future passive participle and the form of the verb "to be" are needed to express the notion of something having, by necessity, to be done. Neither faciendum nor esse can do this on their own.


The word "periphrastic" derives from two ancient Greek words,
peri, meaning "around" (as in the word "perimeter") and phrazomesthai, meaning "to speak." So a periphrastic construction "speaks around"—adds too many, if not extra, words—to say what is meant to be said.


Charlie having speech but speech that is limited in numbers of words and types of grammatical expression—as I noted yesterday, his vocabulary consists
primarily of nouns and, too, adjectives—he has only a few words to express everything he'd like to. On the one hand it's important to teach him phrases and expressions to express these basic things, and in ways that people "in general" might understand. On the other hand, it's as important to acknowledge his efforts to communicate, and to try to figure out the multiple meanings that a single word Charlie uses can carry.


After a starting-with-anxiety-but-turning-out-good day back to school, I picked up Charlie. We did a couple of errands (bank, Walgreens) and, after a large snack (more like Lunch #2), Charlie and Jim went on a walk (with an umbrella that went mostly unused). On returning, Charlie asked to go out. Once in the white car, he asked to go to Trader Joe's, only to say (as he always does these days) "no" as we neared the store, whereupon I turned the car back. We passed another store and he told me "no" to that one, and then directed me to drive to a local grocery store. Once in the parking lot, he told me "no, no" so back out we went.


Having visited three grocery stores and heard "no" to all of them, I drove us home. Charlie came inside and sat on the couch, and wasn't interested in dinner (
paper-wrapped chicken and rice cooked just right, so there's a golden crust, the nong at the bottom). After sitting for awhile, he asked to go to "Trader Joe's" but, having already offered that option and seen it objected, Jim and I said that we could maybe go tomorrow. After awhile, Charlie asked Jim to go and get gas, which they did.


It's not the first time that Charlie and I have gone out to get groceries, stopped at three stores, and gone home empty-handed. Jim and I haven't yet quite figured out what Charlie is trying to tell us; feeling like I'm driving Charlie hither and thither without a sense of where we're going can be really frustrating. I want to honor his talking, his attempts to
tell us what he wants, but sometimes I just feel like we're going around in circles, literal and otherwise.


Last night after coming home Charlie couldn't find a rubber band he'd been using as a fidget for his fingers, cried, came into the house, and things escalated with him becoming very upset. I'd taken his indecisiveness in the car as a sign of him not feeling at ease, and Jim and I wondered if this
neurological storm was the result of a lag after five days off from school, and a very full five days after that. The storm is always tough when it's going on but it was really ten minutes, after which Charlie requested a walk. Once he and Jim were back, he went to his room. After a few minutes, he told me "rice, yes" and I brought in a bowl of rice, a plate of nong, and some chicken.


I tripped in the hallway and the entire bowl of rice ended up on the floor. I don't think it mattered, as Charlie was busy consuming the
nong and the chicken, and smiling. I usually either don't cook the rice long enough for the nong to form, or I burn it; last night it was just crunchy enough, and a little soft too, like popcorn. Charlie was still smiling when I tucked him in.


Sometimes I think it takes a roundabout, periphrastic sort of process for Charlie to figure out what it is he has on his mind, what he wants. In the heat of the moment I often wish it could be easier for him to tell us things without so much periphrasis, so much talking around, and maybe a little less driving too.

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Comments
15 Responses to “Roundabout”
  1. emma says:

    Hm, it gets me thinking…. When we are out, Dimitri very frequently wants to go in all the shops we have ever visited in the past. He can’t ask, he frequently pulls, although I’ve encouraged him to point to where he wants. Sometimes this works others not. Sometimes I say no, we can’t go (variety of reasons), and these days he is usually more accepting of this, but not always.
    Anyway, most of the shops he will just go in, do a sweep of the inside and go straight out again (unless it’s a DVD or toy shop). I have pondered why many a time, but never really come up with a satisfactory answer. A good example is the microbiologist, he goes in, pushes the doctor to where she usually stands, sits in the chair, and points for the rubber thing to be put on his arm. Then gets up and leaves. Like I said, I have some thoughts on why, but really, I’m not sure….

  2. Rose says:

    Does he mention any other “names” of stores in particular, or does Trader Joe’s seem to account for all stores?

  3. Jill says:

    It must be very frustrating to drive from store to store and not be able to go inside any of them.
    What would happen if you gave Charlie a choice between two stores/errands? Would it give him a feeling of control so he would be willing to complete the errand? Before you started driving you could ask Charlie where he wanted to go, Whole Foods, say, or Trader Joe? Then go there and walk in, ignoring any “nos” unless they are very heartfelt.
    Just a thought.

  4. Christine says:

    I wonder if it is the process of getting somewhere, rather than the actual destination, that appeals to Charlie? I see this sometimes with Oliver. He is such a boy of motion that the act of getting there is more than half the fun.

  5. Jen says:

    Maybe he just wants to take a ride, and thinks there has to be a destination, or a purpose for the trip? I used to work with a boy who liked to just go for a ride in my car. I wasn’t keen on taking him out on the roads in a jeep without a backseat, but he was pleased to just take a ride around the block, with the destination being home again.

  6. VAB says:

    We had a similar thing, particularly with elevators, but with numerous other attractions as well. We had to visit them, but only observe them from a difference. Any attempts to get to close resulted in panic. We put this down the the fascination/fear couple that was prevalent for many years. We just toured things, the way tourists often do, looking from a bit of a distance and then moving on.

  7. mamacate says:

    My boy, full of words, spends a lot of time bouncing around from idea to idea, and from desire to desire, entirely unsatisfied by all of them. We are much less patient with demands to go here and there, but I find that it has little to do with the expressed request or desire, and more to do with the kind of unsettledness that you talked about. Sometimes I think he has a mental image of what he wants and the reality doesn’t fit in some crucial way, sometimes I think that just asking for/demanding things (his verbal skills facilitate a kind of tone that can’t be called a request) is a way to try to deal with anxiety or an internally-fueled restlessness, that has little to do with the content of the request.

  8. mamacate says:

    My boy, full of words, spends a lot of time bouncing around from idea to idea, and from desire to desire, entirely unsatisfied by all of them. We are much less patient with demands to go here and there, but I find that it has little to do with the expressed request or desire, and more to do with the kind of unsettledness that you talked about. Sometimes I think he has a mental image of what he wants and the reality doesn’t fit in some crucial way, sometimes I think that just asking for/demanding things (his verbal skills facilitate a kind of tone that can’t be called a request) is a way to try to deal with anxiety or an internally-fueled restlessness, that has little to do with the content of the request.

  9. Louise says:

    I cannot speak as a “mother in autismland,” but as the mother of a boy growing up through the teenage years (18 now, but still very much a respect-demanding boy-child).
    The “Second Lunch” is what we came to call it when Jake was about 13. Breakfast is sometimes welcomed, sometimes eschewed. Lunch is always devoured. But then, upon returning home from school, there is always “Second Lunch”.
    “Second Lunch” eventually became foods Jake could prepare himself, including his favorite tomato soup and potato chips. Charlie sounds like a forager already – can you let him prepare his Second Lunch himself?
    Perhaps demands for Second Lunch are why college dining halls open for dinner at 4 pm. Young men can enter and continue to socialize and feed for 4 hours if they so desire. The tradition of the Teatime may also be related to Second Lunch cravings. One nice thing about its timing is that it lets you prepare for a later dinner – perhaps 7 or 8 pm – at whicj all the family members can gather.
    One thing I didn’t understand from your always-descriptive narrative is Charlie’s reaction to your fall. Did Charlie have a reaction to your fall?
    Finally, what would Charlie’s reaction be if you told him “not now, maybe later” when he demanded that he “go” places? Does Charlie have what are sometimes called “tantrums” – those fits of frustrated and impotent rage that all kids have when their immediate desires are thwarted? And how do they differ from neurological storms?

  10. Louise says:

    I cannot speak as a “mother in autismland,” but as the mother of a boy growing up through the teenage years (18 now, but still very much a respect-demanding boy-child).
    The “Second Lunch” is what we came to call it when Jake was about 13. Breakfast is sometimes welcomed, sometimes eschewed. Lunch is always devoured. But then, upon returning home from school, there is always “Second Lunch”.
    “Second Lunch” eventually became foods Jake could prepare himself, including his favorite tomato soup and potato chips. Charlie sounds like a forager already – can you let him prepare his Second Lunch himself?
    Perhaps demands for Second Lunch are why college dining halls open for dinner at 4 pm. Young men can enter and continue to socialize and feed for 4 hours if they so desire. The tradition of the Teatime may also be related to Second Lunch cravings. One nice thing about its timing is that it lets you prepare for a later dinner – perhaps 7 or 8 pm – at whicj all the family members can gather.
    One thing I didn’t understand from your always-descriptive narrative is Charlie’s reaction to your fall. Did Charlie have a reaction to your fall?
    Finally, what would Charlie’s reaction be if you told him “not now, maybe later” when he demanded that he “go” places? Does Charlie have what are sometimes called “tantrums” – those fits of frustrated and impotent rage that all kids have when their immediate desires are thwarted? And how do they differ from neurological storms?

  11. autismvox says:

    @Rose, Charlie knows the names of all the stores but he starts by asking specifically for “Trader Joe’s.” I’ve been thinking, he sort of needs to start with one name and then go to the next and the next, to remember the sequence?
    @Jill, It’s frustrating (I’d kind of like to get to TJ’s one of these days…I can manage.) Giving Charlie choices seems to work in the short run as far as him assenting to one of the choices, but when he actually has them presented to them (actually is at the stores), he has been indicating that he doesn’t want to go.
    @Christine, I think you’re on to something. That the ride (and the sequence of places that we pass through) is part of “going to the store” for Charlie. And we do a fair amount of talking about things while in the car; something about being in motion!

  12. autismvox says:

    @mamacate, I think you’ve captured it…..
    @VAB, am liking the idea of being a tourist, just looking around. Some days I feel, I have to admit, a bit exhausted at seeing the same “sites” over and over, but more often I feel I see there’s much more to each than meets the eye.
    @Jen, I think that Charlie does sometimes just want to go for a ride and to hear CDs, and there’s something particular about hearing them in the car in motion, rather than at home…….

  13. Jen says:

    Kristina, the white car is new, correct? Maybe that has something to do with it. The boy who liked to ride in my car really only liked it when it was fairly new. I don’t see him often now, and while he is still interested in my car, riding in it isn’t a big deal anymore.
    A classmate of his who I do see regularly, about a year younger than Charlie, would just get into his mom’s car with no particular destination in mind when she first got it. We’d go out to walk around the block or something, and he’d just get into the car. If asked where he wanted to go, the answer was car. We’d offer some places that he usually liked, and selecting one was hit or miss. When we got there, eating what we bought there was also hit or miss. Thinking about this, maybe he didn’t need a destination either, and we may have been able to just go around the neighborhood and hear listen to music.

  14. autismvox says:

    @Louise, Charlie didn’t see my fall and I was laughing at myself and rushing to clean up the rice. I prefer not to use the word “tantrums” in writing about Charlie here as that word has so many connotations that can result in pre-judging of Charlie and the behaviors manifested. We indeed tell him “not now but later” but with a certain amount of care, as “later” can itself have some aversive connotations. Lately he seems to be most hungry in the middle part of the day, wanting lunch, second lunch, and dinner in fairly short intervals, and then seeming to be fine for the rest of the day.
    @Jen, the white car though it already has a lot of miles on it—I think he is enjoying the novelty of the car, but he’d be pretty happy to find us in the black car too! I think it’s something about going for rides, being in motion. We’ve yet to be able to teach Charlie to answer the “where would you like to go” question with anything other than the car but I suspect he is thinking of it as a destination in itself, and the other places occur to him once in the car.

  15. autismvox says:

    @Emma, that’s interesting what you note about Dimitri wanting to make a tour of all the shops he’s ever visited. I do feel with Charlie that he sometimes wants, needs, us to make “the rounds” of the places we’ve often been to, rather as if he is “checking in,” to make sure they’re all stay there? And somehow, perhaps a day isn’t quite complete without seeing/visiting all those places?

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