Testing Testing 123 Testing

Charlie walk-running at the end of an afternoon walk In the midst of Charlie requesting, requesting, requesting, requesting and requesting with one "I want yes I want" after another, it occurred to me—reflecting on previous experiences in which getting him just what he was asking for led to a bad encounter of a brownie box kind—that it's possible that there's some adolescent, testing of the limits (especially the parental limits) going on here.  Possibly. 

That mayhap Charlie's trying to see how far he can push his parents before they say the equivalent of "that's it."

(Like you never did that to your parents when you were in the throes of adolescence.)

Monday Charlie and I were in the white car. Jim, having spent the day bringing in the white car for a tune-up and then picking up Charlie and doing a walk, had gone to his office to get some work done. We were tooling around our neighborhood and I knew Charlie would be thinking about going to the supermarket, as it was the time of day when we've so often done that.

I repeated a few of his "I want's" and said, "yeah, yeah, yes." I talked about how Gong Gong and Po Po are coming tomorrow (i.e., today). I asked Charlie where I was going soon. 

"Sushi," said Charlie, and I talked about how we did indeed have sushi at home, not to mention a host of other things. I didn't talk, and listened to Charlie.

We pulled into the driveway and I turned the key to "off," and sat for a few seconds, then got out. Charlie sat for a bit longer and then said "no sit in car."

"Ok," I said and opened his door. He got right out and, once inside, I laid out the sushi and some other things for him in the kitchen and poured our some rice to cook on the stove. Charlie picked up the sushi and set it down, turned to me and said "Bedtime." And clomp clomp clomp up the stairs it was to his room.

Charlie had been yawning in the car. I thought of what might have happened if we'd gone into the store: He was tired (he hadn't gone to sleep on Sunday night till 11pm and Saturday had been a late night too). The bright lights and the rows of equally bright, overly colorful packages and the myriad noises (from people, from the freezer cases, from the shopping cart wheels) did not make for a good mix with a tired, highly sensitive boy. Maybe, I thought, he really didn't want to go into the store and endure all that but ritualistic compulsion was compelling him to ask. I responded, but didn't feel compelled to go.

And judging by how fast Charlie fell asleep on Monday night, he was ok about not having to go, too, and maybe even relieved.

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Comments
13 Responses to “Testing Testing 123 Testing”
  1. Liz Ditz says:

    Kristina, I don’t comment often. I have your voice in my mind’s ear — I don’t read these stories, I hear you tell them, and because I’ve met Charlie, see the (aiee! much larger Charlie than I met) in my mind’s eye.
    Recently I was talking with my NT older stepson (now 32! how did that happen???) and we were talking about some things we each remembered about our childhood. First he said “you were really strict about what we could eat!” and then we talked about that, and then he said, “Now that I think about it, I was never hungry…and you never made us eat stuff we didn’t like.”
    And then he said, sort of to himself, “maybe sometimes I ate or wanted to eat because I didn’t know what I felt, really, and I thought I was hungry.”

  2. Jen says:

    I keep trying to remind myself that along with the regular autism stuff, we’re also going through the completely ‘normal’ adolescent rebellion (which is a good thing!) At times it’s difficult to tell which is which.

  3. Regina says:

    Is it possible that it goes back to that thing that sometimes happens with everyone – “I don’t know what I want!”, or at least, “I don’t know how to say it”. If one is having complicated feelings, it takes a lot of hems and haws and complicated words to get it out, in my experience.

  4. Louise says:

    Most parents can tell you from experience that kids will test the boundaries that parents set on them. If the kids break through one boundary with little or no push back from their parents, they will push further the next time. You may find yourself walking from 9 pm to 3 am one of these days that you “go with him”!
    @Liz Ditz: Sometimes I get the sense that when Charlie asks for a food, such as “guacamole” in the middle of a late-night walk, he is not actually asking for the food, but for the place or the security that he associates with the food. Since his language seems very lieteral/visual, perhaps saying “red box” is easier than saying, “Let’s cook together, I enjoy that.”
    It would certainly explain why he doesn’t eat the brownies, since it’s not brownies he wants. It would also explain why he gets upset when there is no red box purchase – it’s as if he’s hearing, “No, we are not going to cook together.”
    Or perhaps something else? It’s going to be difficult getting through an age of opposition and argument with a large teen who doesn’t use a variety of emotional words to indicate his displeasure.

  5. Rose says:

    Ben used to be very oppositional!!!!!!
    Thanks for the memories, Louise…bleh! Not bleh to you personally, ya know! Just remembering sayin’ “DON’T do the dishes!!!”, so he did until he figured out “You did that on purpose!!!” Oh, the advantages of reverse psychology!! (Sorry if the previous doesn’t make much sense. I guess you had to be there.)
    Anyhow, Kristina, Ben also used to thank me when I layed down the law. “I was wrong” or something like that, he’d say, but he would be grateful. Maybe Charlie just wants to say “I want” (magic words by the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) to see where the line is drawn.
    Yeah, what you all said!
    I concur!

  6. Rose says:

    Kristina:
    I don’t mean to toot my own horn. I’m doing this ’cause it might be helpful. Ben nearly drove me mad with his oppositionality. If you feel it might be helpful, I wrote up “Cost/Benefit Analysis” in the book, Elephant in the Playroom. (I’m RW or something like that. I don’t have my copy at home.) It came straight from my heart, and cost a lot of blood, sweat and tears to arrive at the conclusions I did, but they fit Ben well and helped our relationship. Our kids are “connivers”, in a way, and exceedingly strong willed for little people.
    I don’t have the copy, but I will try to do a blogpost on it soon. Once Charlie starts getting mouthy, you’ll be ready…

  7. Rose says:

    Kristina:
    I don’t mean to toot my own horn. I’m doing this ’cause it might be helpful. Ben nearly drove me mad with his oppositionality. If you feel it might be helpful, I wrote up “Cost/Benefit Analysis” in the book, Elephant in the Playroom. (I’m RW or something like that. I don’t have my copy at home.) It came straight from my heart, and cost a lot of blood, sweat and tears to arrive at the conclusions I did, but they fit Ben well and helped our relationship. Our kids are “connivers”, in a way, and exceedingly strong willed for little people.
    I don’t have the copy, but I will try to do a blogpost on it soon. Once Charlie starts getting mouthy, you’ll be ready…

  8. autismvox says:

    Guess you could say Charlie’s “mouthy” without so much talking! Right now he’s talking about going up to our old apartment—we used to go back and forth on weeknights between our house and the apartment—though he knows full well we have moved out.
    Charlie’s main thing with the brownies was eating the batter and something about the red box—it was some kind of OCD draw. He’s often been drawn to red items:
    https://autism.wordpress.com/2005/06/22/the-stone-wall-the-spot-of-red-paint-and-a-lot-of-bugs-from-one-hot-season-in-minnesota-to-the-start-of-a-new-jersey-summer5/
    or,
    http://is.gd/a5ROz
    @liz, you wrote about your stepson saying—- “‘maybe sometimes I ate or wanted to eat because I didn’t know what I felt, really, and I thought I was hungry.'” That’s how I’ve felt about Charlie and all of his requests for food, and especially the ones that have led to ‘neurological storms.’ It’s been as if he’s just asking for the food, or to go to a store, just to do something and eating seems as good an option as any.

  9. autismvox says:

    Guess you could say Charlie’s “mouthy” without so much talking! Right now he’s talking about going up to our old apartment—we used to go back and forth on weeknights between our house and the apartment—though he knows full well we have moved out.
    Charlie’s main thing with the brownies was eating the batter and something about the red box—it was some kind of OCD draw. He’s often been drawn to red items:
    https://autism.wordpress.com/2005/06/22/the-stone-wall-the-spot-of-red-paint-and-a-lot-of-bugs-from-one-hot-season-in-minnesota-to-the-start-of-a-new-jersey-summer5/
    or,
    http://is.gd/a5ROz
    @liz, you wrote about your stepson saying—- “‘maybe sometimes I ate or wanted to eat because I didn’t know what I felt, really, and I thought I was hungry.'” That’s how I’ve felt about Charlie and all of his requests for food, and especially the ones that have led to ‘neurological storms.’ It’s been as if he’s just asking for the food, or to go to a store, just to do something and eating seems as good an option as any.

  10. autismvox says:

    And Charlie really did enjoy making the brownies at first, and then he got overly wrapped up in the rituals of it, getting the box, getting the bowl (a certain bowl), getting the eggs.

  11. autismvox says:

    And Charlie really did enjoy making the brownies at first, and then he got overly wrapped up in the rituals of it, getting the box, getting the bowl (a certain bowl), getting the eggs.

  12. Jill says:

    I want. I want I want.
    It’s called inchoate longing and we all experience it.
    Charlie wants.. something. He wants to feel… different/better. He thinks about the past, about Alphabert and Farm Famlies and about his ABA helpers and their various colored cars.
    That was The Past and The Past seems easier to deal with than the Now, which is confusing and alarming to us all.
    Maybe Charlie wishes he were younger, when he didn’t have a big body and strange feelings that he can’t articulate. Maybe he intuits that a cute, little autistic boy is more acceptable than a large potentially threatening-seeming young autistic man.
    He certainly knows that he is the object of stares and compressed lips, that parents in doctors’ waiting rooms pull their small children close, worried that he might last out, worried about his body language and the sounds he makes.
    He’s doing the best he can with what he has but adolescence is tough. I hope things get easier.

  13. Rose says:

    If anyone has figured out Charlie, it’s you. There is no magic key that works for everyone. Sorry…
    I read about the “red spot”. That is interesting.
    Parenting seems like more of an art than a science. Our kids are as unpredictable as we are!!!
    Safe travels.

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