Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Autism diaries

Catherine's post today at Kitchen Table Math about "permissive parenting" and the latest escapades with her autistic son inspire me to share some recent tales about my own.

He really wants a Wii. He wants one so badly that we've made it conditional on extended good behavior. Six months of no hurting, bothering, breaking, messing up, and wasting. In particular, six months of no practical jokes. We actually don't want to get him a Wii, but if he can achieve this miracle, it's his.

He's starting to realize it won't happen, so he's turning to the next best outcome: getting invited over to lots of other houses that do have Wii's.  

Step 1: Every time he meets anyone new, or spots one of us talking to someone new, he butts in and asks: "Do you have a Wii?"

Step 2: He tries to gather enough information on each Wii owner so that, when I'm not looking, he can contact them for a Wii invitation. For school parents, a last name will do: he can look them up in the school directory, or, for uncommon names, there's the phone book or Google. 

Step 3: When we're not paying attention (early in the morning or late at night are usually the most promising times), he calls them up. "It's 9:00. Most people are not still sleeping now," I heard him say into the phone last Sunday morning, before I was able to catch up to him and grab the phone.

Step 4: For more elusive contact info, he seeks out the email addresses in my inbox. Once I realize what he's up to, I stop letting him look over my shoulder. But where there's a will...

Step 5: From the computer in his room, he brings up my Comcast account. He then clicks the "forgot password" button and up comes the security question. "What is your mother's maiden name?" No problem: he's been studying the family tree for the last month or so, mostly out of innocent interest. As it turns out, he can also hack into my brother's account.

Step 6: Having thus accessed my (and my brother's) account, he changes the password, and presto, he's in. He then copies all the email addresses he recognizes as Wii-owners into his account, and emails them about inviting him over.

Step 7: After my brother notices that his password doesn't work any more, quickly indentifies the culprit, and changes his security question, my son attempts bribery. Using the user name "Mail Delivery System," and referring to the download code for one of his favorite computer games, Cro-Mag Rally, he writes:

I will tell you a cro-mag rally code if you tell me your favorite beverage.

As of yet, no one has actually invited him over. But if at first you don't succeed...

Two things occur to me:

The default security question doesn't protect you from members of your own (extended) family. 

Perhaps my son's most promising job prospects are in spamming. (Should I embrace it?)


Nancy Bea Miller said...

Hah! I got the "Do you have a wii?" email question from him, but as I do not have one, I've so far missed out on the early morning phone calls.

lefty said...

I guess he's not feeling quite so urgent about the status of your refrigerator lock?

He still likes to chuckle over it!