I want to start this blog by sharing with you a picture I took recently.
OK. You might be wondering what on earth these little balls are and why they are worthy of a picture.
Let me begin to explain by showing you another picture.
Many of you might recognize that this second picture is a bowl of Good and Plenty candies. Aaron loves Good and Plentys. He always pours his treats into a bowl and eats them one by one, usually while he sits in his favorite chair as we watch a show at night.
One recent morning I walked through the family room and saw little balls on the shelf of the end table beside Aaron’s chair. I knew right away what they were. Those little balls in that first picture are Good and Plenty candies.
BUT those little round candies are not oblong shaped as good Good and Plenty candy should be. Therefore, to Aaron, they are unacceptable.
They are oddballs.
And oddball candy is not to be eaten, at least not by Aaron.
Same candy…different shape…not allowed.
I absolutely love seeing such tangible pictures of the fascinating way that Aaron’s mind works. This is classic evidence of the structured world that Aaron desires.
Classic autistic behavior.
Look how he even set the pink candy in its own place, not in the row with the white ones. Again, order is important.
Aaron can usually control the structure in his world when it involves food, silverware, blankets on his bed, when to turn the television off at precisely the correct moment, watching the credits at the end of a show, and on and on.
Unfortunately, Aaron’s desire that his world be carefully monitored for his own personal satisfaction runs into a problem. The problem is that living breathing people with feelings don’t always fit into Aaron’s normal.
In other words, people can be like those defective candies.
But Aaron cannot set human beings aside into neat little rows when they don’t fit into his definition of acceptable.
He also cannot always keep his thoughts and frustrations about oddballs to himself.
Like the day years ago that he and I were eating lunch with someone Aaron didn’t remember, but she knew Aaron and was so excited to see him. So excited that she kept leaning toward him to talk very happily with her exuberant voice and with her eyes very big.
He finally leaned toward her from across the booth, opened his eyes as wide as he could, and exclaimed, “DON’T DO THIS!!!”
Oh dear. I was so embarrassed. This person works with special needs, and she understood, though she was taken aback. But I knew that Aaron was getting very uncomfortable, so it was like watching a train building up steam before a wreck.
Then there was the time that we went with Aaron to parent night at his school. He was to introduce us to each of his teachers. At the last classroom, while waiting in the hall, we wondered why Aaron was beyond excited for us to meet this teacher. We soon found out why. She had a very pronounced spiked hairstyle, which Aaron found to be extremely interesting…odd, you might say.
“MOM!! DAD!! This is ______. She looks like a HEDGEHOG, doesn’t she?!”
Gary and I were humiliated (although Aaron had a point 😊). We immediately corrected him, and the teacher was immediately angry with Aaron…and it was not the finest of our parenting moments.
We have our times here at home, too, when Aaron sees us for the oddballs we are to him and he lets us know it.
When one of us is talking to Aaron about something more serious and we change the shape of our eyes: “DON’T SQUINT YOUR EYES!!”
When I was talking to him one day and made a stirring motion with my hand, which upset him. I asked why. “I just see things you do are weird.”
When I was singing funny and could tell he didn’t like it, so I told him I was just having some fun: “I don’t like your fun.”
When I sniff and he is afraid that I’m upset: “ARE YOU CRYING???” He really can’t handle crying from other people, especially me.
There are many more examples that I could include, but you get the idea.
And if you hang around Aaron long enough you have a very decent chance of becoming an oddball, too.
But don’t worry. You will be in good company.
Aaron, after seeing a picture of Shakespeare: “Shakespeare didn’t dress perfectly. He dressed weird!”
As for Einstein in another picture seen by Aaron: “He has WEIRD hair!”
Maybe being an oddball isn’t such a bad thing after all, right?