Pranks and Autism

PranksThe Boy has had an increased interest in pranks lately, and has even gone so far as to persuade Grammy to purchase the old snakes-in-the-peanut-brittle prank from a joke shop for him.  She did, and brought it with her when they came to visit, and it was a big hit, at least with The Boy.  The rest of us quickly tired of trying to smush the “snakes” back in the can.  After a day or two, the novelty wore off a bit, and we were off the hook.

At school, The Boy chose a different prank.  An old-school prank that could actually hurt people: the old tack-on-the-teacher’s-chair prank.  And in a roundabout fashion, his ASD teacher discovered that The Boy was the culprit.

She handled it magnificently, understanding that at the root of this was his autistic self not understanding that the prank can be funny in cartoons, but could actually hurt people, and is so not cool or funny.  They discussed it, she told him she would keep his secret, and resolved to keep an eye on him, hoping that the talk did the trick.

And then he was caught being sneaky again.

He wasn’t doing the prank again, but he asked to get a drink and she followed him.  And he made several stops in vacant classrooms and hallways where he should not have been.  And he got busted.  He was unhappy, but she told him that she couldn’t trust him at his word anymore.  He values his independence so keenly, but that was what had to be taken away because of his actions.  They developed a plan to earn it back, and he will have to have supervision at the beginning of this week when he leaves the room, then the supervision will be gradually lessened until he earns his independence back at the end of the week, IF he has complied with the terms of the agreement: going only where he’s supposed to, no pranks, no sneaking, no meltdowns about the rules.

He’s learning – this is foreign territory and I am so thankful that he has a teacher that gets that this is an autism/social cue thing rather than a disciplinary issue.

All that’s left is encouragement that he can do this, he can earn his independence back, and hope that he learns from this experience!



Dentist (Photo credit: Joel Price)

I have gotten pretty good at predicting what will trigger a meltdown, and at analyzing what, in fact, actually did cause a meltdown.  There are times, like today, when I have no flippin’ clue what the hell happened.

I made a dentist appointment for The Boy.  I prepped him for weeks, and even made an appointment for me right before his, that was supposed to be quick, the way they made it sound.  I cannot make appointments during school or ESY, because if he misses school, I hear about it for years.  That’s not an exaggeration.  He must not miss school.  And I had tried twice to make this appointment before I was actually able to make it, due to the wonky office schedule.

We arrived, everything was OK.  I had my consult, and then my cleaning, which took about an hour.  During this time, The Boy was a little nervous, but OK because they let him wander around and be comfortable, which I really appreciate.  And then, near the end of my appointment, he just freaked.  Something to do with the clock striking three, and we had been there for “hours”, and couldn’t we make time go backwards?  Inconsolable crying, tears, sobbing.  And it just wouldn’t stop – he was out of reach.  We had to reschedule his appointment for a much more inconvenient time, right at back-to-school time.  Ugh.

Is an hour a long time?  I suppose, but he is usually pretty good about this kind of thing.  Should we have done his appointment first?  Probably not, because the freak out would have happened whilst I was in the chair being scraped and polished within an inch of my life, and then what? And why all the references to time??  Here’s a theory: I think sometimes he convinces himself of things that will happen and deadlines that will be met (in this case, we would be done by 2:45pm), and with that lack of “theory of mind,” he thinks everyone knows his thoughts.  And we don’t.  And when things don’t happen the way he has envisioned, and the deadlines are not met, his world falls apart a bit.

But I can’t predict that, and I can’t prepare for that.  So sometimes I get blindsided.

An hour later, and he is finally calming down, but resolved to find a remote control that can make appointments go quicker, and can make time go backwards.  You and me both, kid.  You and me both.