Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Marshmallows roasting on an (almost) open fire

You almost read this news story tonight: "10 year-old autistic boy pokes eyeball out with bamboo skewer".  Aaron is running through the kitchen laughing, so I go see what he's laughing about (I was around the corner).  He's full on waving a bamboo skewer all over, about ready to poke his eyeball out.  I could tell he was on a mission, so rather than confiscate the skewer, I decided to see how this was going to play out. 

Now I'm going to pause that story and give you a little information.  Kids with autism have a hard time with imitation, and it's a skill that has to be taught.  So we spent years saying, "do this" and having Aaron imitate our action.  It was a slow, painstaking process, but one that is necessary as a foundation for other skills.  Fast forward a few years, and here we are, at a place in his development that I call: Selective Imitation.  Now I know that typically developing kids have this issue as well (but this isn't about them).  Selective Imitation is not my friend.  Selective Imitation is responsible for whacking other kids with a lunchbox (kindergarten year), saying the "F" word as a non-verbal kid (kindergarten year--NOT ME), lighting matches (his father), and all sorts of other behaviors I would prefer he didn't have (none of which are from me).  The problem with Selective Imitation is what he chooses to imitate, and what he chooses to not imitate.  For example, Selective Imitation would be awesome if he observed a group of kids playing four-square, and then joined in after figuring out how to play.  However, it was apparently not meant to be.  

So this brings me back to the skewer.  I'm following behind him making sure he's not going to poke his eye out so I can see what he's up to.  He heads to the pantry where I have some of those huge marshmallows.  He puts one on the skewer and walks over to the stove.  I'm in the process of cooking dinner so the gas burner is on.  He pauses for a minute to make funny faces and stare at his reflection in the steel pot, and then tries to roast the marshmallow.  (Selective Imitation courtesy of his brother and sister).  It's not going as quickly as he would like (which has nothing to do with the burner being on low and a pot on top of the flame), so he decides to pop the marshmallow off and just eat it.  The skewer becomes mine as soon as he starts to put it in the flame so he can light it on fire.  Another disaster averted!  Whew!
Making faces in the pot

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