Saturday, October 27, 2012

Autism Diaries XXXIX: Losing credibility

I admit it: I sometimes take advantage of J’s handicaps to make life easier for myself. After all, J’s deafness and autism have mostly made things harder. Isn’t it OK, at least for us, his parents, to take advantage of the occasional situation in which they make things easier?

Because he’s autistic, we can communicate a certain amount in his presence that goes right over his head. This sometimes makes it easier for us to discuss how we’re going to manage his behavior. His autism also makes him easier to manipulate at times, which helps us outwit him on the many occasions when he’s mischievously trying to outwit us.

And because he’s deaf, on those occasions when his cochlear implant is off, we can even say things in front of him that he would otherwise have no trouble understanding.

Here’s a situation in which I’ve regularly taken advantage of both J’s deafness and his autism. We’re in the bathroom together, and I’m supervising his nightly tooth brushing and shower. His implant is off, so I’m using sign language. He, of course, doesn’t need to sign to me, and is claiming that he washed his hair last night with Daddy and so doesn’t have to wash his hair tonight with me. But his hair looks suspiciously greasy and I’m pretty sure he’s b.s.-ing me.

So I b.s. back. I sign to him that I’m going to call down to Daddy and ask. Then I open the bathroom door, and, rather than shout loud enough to be heard down a hallway and flight of stairs and wake up my daughter in the process, I pretend to shout, simply mouthing the words. Then I pretend that I received an answer from Daddy, who told me that he, in fact, didn’t wash his hair yesterday. And he’s fallen for it every single time.

Until a few nights ago, when I accidentally “called down” to Daddy when J’s implant was still on. He instantly figured out the implications of this—both for me, and for him.

“Now it will never work again,” he told me, delighted, finally, to be the one to catch someone else in an act of attempted subterfuge, and to be the one handing out a consequence.

3 comments:

Happy Elf Mom said...

No! It will never work again! Ha ha!!

Well, the things you are being deceptive about are not harmful but to help him. Rather like not constantly telling Uncle Joe who has dementia (or whatever) that his wife died in a fiery wreck when he asks about her every half hour.

Oh, I think she is coming back soon...

Auntie Ann said...

Talking in front of him when his implant is off is no different than multilingual parents relying on a different language to have a private conversation.

Nancy Bea Miller said...

Too funny! Dang, it will never work again! :-D Poor Momma!