Nothing like solving an Autismland mystery.
For the past two days, Charlie has been taking out the garbage, without anyone requesting him too, and with total disregard for the interesting, and odoriferous contents therein (it is the garbage in the kitchen).
“Gar-badge!” he proclaims, and looks towards where the can is stored under the sink, and looks at me. “Garbadge, yes, garbadge.”
“You want to take out the garbage?”
“Tay cowt garadge, yes, taycowt garbadge?”
“That would be great!”
What else could a mother possibly say?
But I’m an autism mother and so “child volunteering to take out the garbage” is not exactly “child volunteering to take out the garbage.”
By this I do not mean that I suspect Charlie of having some ulterior, “manipulative” aim in taking out the garbage (“I take out the garbage and she lets me eat half a box of the crackers she said I have to save for school”). (And Charlie is not incapable of a bit of deception, as when he tells me “Mom, stairs,” checks to see where I’m going, and runs towards the refirgerator.)
Charlie wants to make sure he is in control of taking out the garbage so nothing he likes too much—say a certain green squishy ball that got “garbaged” on a very bad Monday—goes in there.
This occurred to me tonight as Charlie was pulling out the plastic can and pulling up the sides of the bag. There, just to the left of his left foot, was the green squishy ball (the new one).
Charlie was holding the ball by a few fingers as he carried the bag down to the door, both-handed. There he stopped and thunked and dropped it up and down a few times. We had gotten a pre-roasted chicken in a plastic container at the store; I sighted the chicken we had bought last week and went to put it in the bag.
Charlie paused and looked, thunked and dropped, took out the garbage.
He came back in, sat on the couch, and wept. Wept and wept—not angry, so sad.
I sat down besides him, warmly praising him for taking out the garbage. “Such a huge help, sweetie!” We sat, he wept. We sat.
I had a less major aha moment. “Charlie, we have a new chicken.”
“New sick-enn. Sick-enn.”
“Do you want some?”
“Sick-enn yes. Yesee, yess!”
Henry the VIIIth did not dine on his mutton chops with more relish than Charlie gnawed on a drumstick. H watched closely as I pulled off a wing with its tender meat and slender bones to chew on.