The Coupon Pro!

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! 

The Star Wars Game (Medium)

Aaron’s birthday is coming up in November.  Then, of course, comes Christmas.  So every time he starts telling me about a movie or a game that he wants I tell him to write it on his gift list.  I also tell him to write down the name of the store where he saw the item.  Today he told me about a Star Wars game set that he wants and so I reminded him to put it on his list. 

He kept talking about it and so I asked him, “What game is it again?”  And he said, “Well, it’s a Star Wars game set and it’s in a medium box.”  Then he used his hands to describe the size as he said, “One set is in a large box like this……(hand motions for large size)…………….but this game I want is in a medium box like this…………….(hand motions for medium size).”       Well, as helpful as this is, Aaron – I need more info than that.

“What store did you find it in, Aaron?”  And he said, “It’s in the east.”   OK, that narrows it down even further.  I need to go to east Wichita and search for a Star Wars game set in a medium box. 

I might make it home by Christmas.  Not sure yet. 

The Wristwatch

Aaron LOVES watches and clocks!  He’s very particular about his wrist watch.  He wants one that has numbers, not digital, which is good.  And he likes it to have a display that shows the day and date. 

Aaron doesn’t care one little bit about fashion or being cool or in style.  This attitude is refreshing, in a sense, but can also be embarrassing sometimes, too.  For instance, it’s a little weird when he hikes his pants way up to his chest in the middle of Wal-Mart while making a huge production of tucking in his shirt.  Quite a show for those who have the privilege of being nearby to see it!  Or stretching really big and really loud, with his belly sticking WAY out – again, in the middle of a store, parking lot, waiting room………..he’s not particular. 

So I wanted you to see how he wears his wrist watch.  He used to wear it down on his wrist like the rest of the world does, but now for some reason he wears it way up on his arm.  No amount of persuasion from us has caused him to move it back down to where it belongs.  Once again, Aaron follows his own rules and goes happily on his way.  Maybe we could learn something from him after all! 

Keeping Me Company

This afternoon after Aaron got home from his day group, I decided to vacuum out the dirty van.  He and Jackson decided to join me.

I didn’t think that Jackson would hang around because he doesn’t usually like the vacuum cleaner.  He hides from it in the house, but in the van he was as relaxed as could be.  Maybe it was because I didn’t have a big attachment and hose on it.  Or maybe it was because Aaron was petting him and keeping him company. 

Anyway, it was sweet to see them together like this.  But I think Aaron is hanging around Jackson too much because he told me, “Mom, do you remember that I had a bandaid here on my leg?  Well, today Cody took it off for me and when he pulled it off there was a bunch of my fur on it!” 

You better not shed in the house, Aaron!!

Lessons From the Injured Bird

When Aaron returns from his day group at the end of his day, he almost always comes in the garage door. One day last week I happened to be in the living room and saw him running toward the front door as soon as he got out of the van. Oh, he’s probably just in a mood to ring the doorbell multiple times, I thought. So I opened the door before he had time to push the buzzer and when Aaron saw me he breathlessly said, “Mom, there’s a bird on the porch!” Stepping outside, I looked around and saw the poor bird behind the bench, huddled against the side of the house. All the commotion and noise scared him, so he lifted himself up and began to hop away. That’s when I saw that he had some sort of neck injury. It was pitiful to watch him because he couldn’t lift his head. His injury caused his head to hang and just dangle there as he hopped off the side of the porch. Aaron wanted to rescue him but I knew that we couldn’t save this bird’s life. I sadly watched him settle down behind our bushes and then went on in the house to explain to Aaron why we needed to leave the bird alone.

Later, after Gary and I had eaten supper, I quietly led Gary outside to the bushes and the bird. We didn’t want our Great Dane to find the bird, and didn’t want Aaron to see him again. There he was, huddled down in the same position as when I had left him earlier. We didn’t want to disturb him as we stood there looking at his beautiful coloring. Finally the bird heard us and once again tried to move away. It was really heartbreaking to see how his head hung down limply. We felt so helpless. Gary noted his coloring and that night was able to find out on the internet that our bird was a certain species of woodpecker. We didn’t want to think about the bird left out there all night and what might happen to him. Seeing nature up close at times like this is pretty distressing.

As soon as it was light enough the next morning I slipped outside and stood on the porch. Sure enough, our woodpecker was still there but he was dead. We weren’t surprised, really, and it was actually a relief to know that he hadn’t been grabbed and tortured by a predator. Yet we wished that somehow we could have helped him.

As I thought about this experience with the dying bird I was reminded of Matthew 10:29 where Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” The Moore family weren’t the only ones who knew about the unfortunate death of this anonymous bird. Our Heavenly Father also knew and even beyond the knowing, He cared. To think that our Father in Heaven, God of the universe, would care about our dead woodpecker was a beautiful picture to me of an even greater truth. God carries that care over to me, in an even greater measure than the bird. Continuing on in Matthew 10:30-31, Jesus said, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” My God cares for me, even numbering the hairs on my head! He cares about my hurts; He cares about my disappointments; He cares about my pain; He cares about my worries; He cares about my children; He cares about my loneliness. And in I Peter 5:7, Peter reminded the believers to “cast all your care on Him, because He cares for you.” God WANTS me to throw my cares on Him – to let Him handle my anxieties – because He CARES! No matter how insignificant I feel or how scared I feel or how pushed aside I feel or anything else – I am told to throw that care to Jesus and He will care for it because He cares for me. What a promise! What a God! And what a lesson I was reminded of from our little dying bird.

More About Movies

For quite a long time, whenever Aaron would get a new movie, he would put it in a certain place among his rows of DVDs.  Then he would go back to the first movie and start watching all of his movies over again until he got to the new one.  If he received another new movie, the process would start all over again.  Honestly, this procedure of his wore me out but there was no need in trying to change his ways.  It didn’t hurt anything or bother anyone.  Again, it would be many months before he watched most of his new movies – just like reading his new books.  Now he doesn’t have that much structure about his new movies.  There are some that take a long time for him to watch but I think he finally realized that it would take a couple years to watch the new ones if he kept doing this. 

Also, he doesn’t grasp the give and take of normal conversations like you and I do.  He likes some of that, and enjoys some plots of movies.  But he really likes the action movies or the ones with huge genetically altered spiders, or rats, or bats……….you get the idea.  He just finished a movie about a gigantic shark and octopus.  He was so excited to show me the scene where the shark bites the Golden Gate Bridge in half.  “Mom, isn’t that cool?!”  Uh, yeah, Aaron.  And no, don’t ask me to watch that movie with you.  I’ve had enough of that for awhile, believe me!

His group goes to the movies every Friday.  One day, right after The Bucket List came out, he came home and was talking to me about his day.  I asked him what movie they went to see and he replied, “I don’t know.  Something about a bucket.”  That was the extent of what he got out of that movie!  But on and on he’ll go about the enormous, ice age, prehistoric, first frozen and now thawed out, huger than huge, meaner than mean……………shark.  Really?  Go figure.