Friday, November 26, 2010

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Bedtime No-How

Allison Frohriep is mom to three, a seven year old with asperger's, a five year old and a three year old with autism.In her "spare time" she blogs.

“Mom! Roman is turning the lights on and off again!”

It was Tycen, my seven year old who shares a room with Roman. Tycen has asperger's and has a need for control. He's constantly, obsessively, telling on his little brother, a three year old with autism. Of course Roman was flipping the light switch. It's what he does. He loves to watch the lights flicker on and off.

“Mom! Roman is chewing on his blocks!”

Again, it's what he does. Roman licks and chews EVERYTHING. He's always being reminded not to put things in his mouth, but seconds later, it's always the same thing. Back in the mouth.

“Mom! Roman is unplugging the radio!”

I had enough. I left my computer, where I was working on my memoir of raising two special needs children alongside their typical sister. Roman had given up on the radio and was jumping on Tycen's bed. It is an every night struggle, getting the boys to bed. Tycen yells and Roman is a naughty little imp, just like any boy his age.

“Boys, you need to calm down and go to sleep. Roman, get to bed,” I commanded.

Roman headed for his PECS book. PECS is the Picture Exchange Communication System. It is a book full of icons of things Roman commonly wants or needs to communicate. The icons are attached by Velcro to the pages of the book. Since Roman is non-verbal, he uses the book regularly to tell us important things, mostly “I want cookies”. We introduced two new icons recently, one meaning yes and the other, no. That was the one Roman was after. He ripped it out of the book and handed it to me.

It was one of those moments where a parent feels like they want to laugh a little, or at least smile, but must keep a stern face. Inside, I was bursting with joy because my son could communicate exactly what he wanted without words. It had only been a few months that Roman had been well practiced at PECS and he was learning quickly. The system has been a lifesaver for us. Before PECS, he would often get frustrated and throw himself into tantrums because we couldn't read his mind. After he mastered PECS, the tantrums dissipated into almost nothing.

“Yes. It's bedtime. Goodnight boys.”

With that, I turned, hit the lights, and left the room, heading back to my work. I was engrossed in the story of how Roman was first diagnosed with autism when I realized that there was finally no noise coming from the boys' room. Still, I felt the need to investigate. I found the light on and heard Roman humming softly from the other side of the door. His hums are another characteristic of autism. The particular hum I heard then meant, “I'm not tired”. I decided not to open the door, but to issue a warning from my side of the portal.

“Roman, go to bed.”

I heard shuffling, then the rip of Velcro. Suddenly, at my feet, a little square of laminated card stock came flying across the floor from under the door. It said, simply, “no”.


jillsmo said...

HA HA! I love it!! :)

Unknown said...

Such a great write. Even though you want to be mad you can't cause he told you what he wanted. Not once but twice. Great Job Roman

Tam said...

lol that's adorable... frustrating, I'm sure, but adorable :)

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