Tuesday, July 17, 2007

perservating perservating perservating perservating

The other morning, as MK headed out on our bikes I suggested that he adjust his gear.

"But Dad," he shouted, "I want to speak!"

"OK," I said, not mentioning how successful many people are at changing gears and speaking all in the same bicycling trip, "Speak."

"Sponge Bob says 'Uuurgk wauuuuruha neemit whyob fittlemuurk.'"

MK's mind was full to bursting with preservation. That meant that all further conversation (other than politely saying, "Oh, really" when verbalized at) was going to be impossible. Talking to MK when he is on an internal preservation roll is like trying to get the attention of a man who is watching a beautiful girl walk by. It's all "Huh?" and "Uh, huh, what was that?"

This most recent flavor is an outgrowth of his rapidly expanding linguistic capacities. He has found that he can take his favorite scenes from cartoons, use video editing software to play them in reverse, memorize them, and replay them in his own head, with or without audio output, whenever he likes. I am, of course, duly impressed by the uniqueness of this skill, but at the same time, I have mixed feelings about being urgently told "Uuurgk wauuuuruha neemit whyob fittlemuurk."

It's the same way I felt in years past about being told "Joe's Pizza!" or "That's it, I" or "and now for, uh" or words of similar wisdom upwards of a hundred times a day. It's a mixed feeling because, on one hand I can see it is fun – wildly, amazing fun, in fact. It seems to be fun on the same sort of level as drinking a bottle of rum and waterskiing naked. And I'm reluctant to pooh pooh that kind of joy. On the other hand, for me personally, it's very hard to get far in a conversation that starts with uuurgk wauuuuruha neemit whyob fittlemuurk.

The simple solution is to put my own selfish desire for coherent conversation on the back burner. After all, most of the time all I want to do when riding the bikes is make small talk. I'm a big boy. I can live without small talk. But there is another side to MK's audio preservation. When MK gets going like this he resembles a fourteen-year-old kid who has just smoked a large doobie (or so I gather by way of general hearsay). Four or five verbalized uuurgk wauuuuruha neemit whyob fittlemuurks in a row and he cannot steer his bike. He cannot walk straight and, much of the time is prone to the clich├ęd falling down laughing and/or rolling on the floor laughing. Earlier this year we got clinical confirmation of the fact that playing back tapes in his head can lower MK's measured IQ by nearly two standard deviations. And as a single bout of these sort of giggles can go on for the most part of a day, that can cause problems, especially on school days.

I have tried to convince our guy that this sort of auto-entertainment should be under his control, rather than him being under its control. Occasionally, for example, I can convince MK to play some giggly tapes to counter a bout of anxiety or difficulty in dealing with something overwhelmingly sad, like watching one of two teams (it doesn't matter which) loose in a sporting competition. But by and large, and in the manner of many autistic things, not being able to control it is part of the package

This is not one of those posts that ends with, "And then I tried x and the problem was solved." No, I'm afraid I have to go out on a whimper. I'm left wondering whether or not MK should want to do anything about it at all, and if he did, whether there is anything that he could do.


Steve D said...

Your last sentence is very poignant, VAB, and gets to the heart of an issue I have been playing around with blogging about. I'll let you know if the idea foments enough the cause an blog entry. Thanks for the food for thought.

Bev said...

Not long ago I passed a two hour car drive by having backward conversations with an NT friend. It was an excellent bonding experience for me, I felt closer to him afterward. Have you asked MK to teach you some of his language? He might enjoy talking to you in a language the two of you construct together.

You might even be able to sneak some more "serious" talk in around the edges.

I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, but it's all I know. I wouldn't have any idea how to stop someone like me from doing this stuff without making him/her miserable.