Last weekend I instituted a meal planning schedule for the weekends. Henry has a habit of pouring out an entire bag of chips, a full box of crackers, and every sleeve of cookie onto a plate and grazing all day from Friday evening through Sunday evening.
The meal planner announcement went over as I imagined it would. He grumbled and fussed. He re-enacted Homer Simpson choking Bart with me as Bart. And then he did it -- he ate on a schedule and portioned out serving sizes.
I love that Henry uses every resource available to communicate his wants and needs. Even though I don’t enjoy being choked and told, “Why you little…” by him as Homer Simpson, I appreciate the application.
After a day and a half of scheduled meals and serving size conversations, I thought we were doing great. Then it was time to head to Dad’s house. I was in my mother’s kitchen and Henry was doing one last lap around the back yard in the winter dusk when I got a call. It was Henry’s dad. Usually he just texts me if his schedule changed. Naturally, I was concerned that he was calling — it must be significant.
He was getting text messages from Henry. I turned and looked out the glass sliding doors and there was Henry, his face lit up by his phone’s screen with the impish grin he gets when he’s working a plan. Here’s the content of the text:
At 8:00 Henry's having a serving size!
He's gonna have a brand new grand prize!
Henry will get some chips and more!
He will have pop tarts…for four!
He's gonna have a great day!
I'll see you later and we're on our way!
Take a moment and read that again just to enjoy before we move into the literary criticism portion of this blog.
Now, let’s go deeper. Three things are stunning about it. First, it’s a fully-formed Dr. Seuss style poem. Spectacular. Second, is the message of the piece. I believe the author is saying: Mom’s serving size/eating plan won’t work for me at Dad’s house. Third, is the action. He’s literally texting behind my back.
When you understand that some of the qualities of autism that we were told to expect were —little to no imagination, little ability to communicate in a meaningful way, and children with autism aren’t manipulative, they have meltdowns instead — you can understand how I feel about this piece. And about this spectacular child, magnificent creative being, wonderfully manipulative schemer, and resourceful communicator — oh, the places he’ll go.