Monday, April 09, 2007

Thank Goodness!

Like all autistic people, Pamela goes the cycles of being intensely interested in one thing and constantly asking the status to verify nothing has changed. She tends to ask repetitive questions about schedules and certain topics. Temple Grandin explains in Emergence: Labeled Autistic,
Constantly asking questions was another one of my annoying fixations, and I’d ask the same questions and wait with pleasure for the same answer—over and over again. If a particular topic intrigued me, I zeroed in to that topic and talked it into the ground.
Pamela gets the same pleasure by asking the same question and hearing the same answer. I suspect the predictability of the process provides more security than rabbit-trail conversations much like flicking light switches comforts Donna Williams as described in her book, Nobody Nowhere,
Switching lights on and off . . . the clicking sound is an impersonal and graspable connection with things outside oneself, like bells and music. It gives the pleasure of sensation denied by almost all touch, and provides security. The more patterned and predictable, the more reassuring.
Right now, the "annoying fixation" is what we call the "sacred hour". For some unknown reason, she has claimed the television room (Steve's office) for herself every weekday at noon. Her brother David must leave the room for an entire hour. She will ask me several times every morning to confirm her sacred hour to the point of being a nag.

My parents-in-law and sisters-in-law visited over Easter. One, who specializes in autism because of Pamela, is co-author of the book, The Sensory Connection and usually has neat ideas. She suggested we try writing a contract. I wrote a contract with Pamela's promises and my promises. I dated it, and the moment she saw it Pamela exclaimed, "Thank goodness!" We both signed the contract, and then she added the words, "I watch video." to the contract.

Pamela did not stick to her promise as diligently as I did, but I think she nagged less. I plan to do an experiment and keep track of how many times she nags on days with and without the contract. One benefit is that, instead of repeating myself, I can simply hand it to her and have her read it aloud.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hmmm... you know -- you may be on to something here. I wonder if it will work with my husband.

OK -- perhaps not.

But GREAT idea! A contract. You are so creative... great job Mom!