Aaron loves cutting out my coupons every Sunday when we have some in the newspaper. It’s been his special job for years. He doesn’t like me to cut them out because, according to his expert opinion, I don’t do it right. I will share with you his version of right, and show some pictures of his method. He’s detailed and structured, for sure, and what would take me minutes takes him a WHOLE lot longer.
First, he must have the correct set-up. He used to sit on the floor but now uses a card table, which is much easier on his back. He has just the right scissors and holds them just the right Aaron-way. He makes sure that all his items are around him that he wants at that time, which often is his carry-around clock, maybe napkins or toothpicks if he’s eating a snack, perhaps a drink, etc.
He cuts the coupons on the dotted lines just as closely on the line as he can. That’s what drives him nuts about my cutting – I’m not as careful about those dotted lines as he is!! He places the actual coupon very carefully into the plastic container that I have for them until I can sort them. They aren’t just tossed in the container. He has a method for placing them there and for how they overlap. He takes other certain pieces of the page, then, and puts them in a particular wastebasket. Those are often coupons for special offers that he knows I won’t use, such as cigarettes. He cuts some of the paper into narrow strips, holds the strip over another trash can, and painstakingly cuts it into little pieces. He likes to watch them fall into the trash can. Then if there is a larger piece of the page left he places it into another stack to be thrown away in the kitchen trash can.
It’s quite a process and one that he is very serious about. One night several years ago he was clipping coupons on his bed. I went in to say goodnight and saw a special offer coupon that I wouldn’t use laying off to the side. He hadn’t seen it, so I picked it up and purposely put it in the wrong container. He, of course, noticed it but didn’t say anything. After I left the room, I stood outside his door and watched him through the slightly open door. He stared at the misplaced coupon for a few seconds and then his hand started to reach for it. He moved his hand back, then went forward again, back again, forward again. He did this a few times and finally quickly reached in, snatched the offending coupon out, and put it in the right container! I don’t think he could have slept until he righted that wrong!
|The offers or coupons he knows I don’t use|
|The little pieces he cuts out of strips of paper|
Persons with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to engage in rituals, and I would say that Aaron’s coupon cutting is indeed a ritual. It’s also good practice for his fine motor skills that are lacking. And helps me practice patience as I wait for my coupons and don’t dare bother his set-up until he’s ALL done!