Who says kids with autism don’t play or think imaginatively?
Yes, they are often visual kids. And yes, sometimes Super Literal. I’ve been reading some wonderful blog entries lately with funny anecdotes about kids on the spectrum not being able to lie. Or about teens trying to grasp the concept of “a little white lie” like when you say:
“Thanks for the sweater, Nana, it’s great.”
when what you really think is:
“Ewww! I don’t wanna wear that ugly thing!”
Alex is particularly cute about lying. He can bend the truth a bit if he really wants something. He’s so charming and manipulative, my boy. He’ll avoid the true answer by trying to divert your attention. As in:
Me: “Are you hungry? Do you want more dinner?”
Alex: “Five minutes til chocolate cake?”
Me: “It’s time to go home. Where are your shoes?”
Alex: (big grinning hug) “Mommmm. I love you!”
But when it comes to yes/no questions, he’s stuck. He just doesn’t know how to outright lie. It’s like Roger Rabbit jumping out of his hiding place singing “Twoooo biiiiitttts!” when the movie villian taps out “Shave and a Haircut” on the table. Alex just has to respond.
Alex: “Mom, go downstairs to the living room, ok?”
Me: “So you want me to go downstairs while you stay upstairs?”
Me: (laughing) “So you want me to go to the living room so you can stay upstairs and do something I told you not to do?”
Me: (grinning) “Okay, my little wiseguy, what is it that you wanna do, huh?”
Alex: “Mommmm.” (insert charming smile here) “I love you!”
There is so much more going on inside the minds of children than most adults ever know. With Hannah– who is, for better or for worse, as talkative as her mama– I know much of her thought process because she can verbalize it. With Alex, I have to trust what I’m not able to hear. And whenever I “take it on faith” that there’s a whole world going on inside Alex’s head, there always seems to be a wonderful moment of verification of his amazing imagination and creativity.
One of those moments is actually what prompted me to write today. The background story is that our bedtime routine for the last couple months has involved my reading chapter books and poetry aloud to the kids. We’re currently going through the Magic School Bus series (which I recently discovered is Alex’s favorite– see the Happy Birthday post!). A few nights ago, Alex and Hannah did bedtime with Daddy without me. Since reading aloud is kinda my thing, they decided to tell a story together instead. It went like this:
Dad: Once upon a time
Alex: in a forest
Dad: and an alligator
Alex: went to a giant
Hannah: to make their dreams come true.
Dad: They dreamed of flying
Alex: and they flew away on a blue balloon.
Magical imagination indeed!