GI Joe and Naked Oatmeal

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) the following is one of the symptoms for diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome (p77)B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
2. Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals.

Here’s the scenario: Friday is Date Night. My Lovely and Talented Wife was going to have some business near my place of work, therefore it would be logical for me to take the bus in the morning and then she could pick me up after she was done and we could have date night downtown. Simple Right. Well, I was okay with this. On Friday’s The Elder does not have school, so my routine in the morning is flexible. The only requirement is that I have to get the trash out because Friday is Trash Day.

The bus that leaves from Farragut and goes to UT has two departure times: 6:45am and 7:15am. For me to make it to the bus stop, I have to leave my house somewhere between 10-15 minutes before the time that I wanted to get there. Therefore, I would need to leave the house around 6:30-6:35am or 7:00-7:05. I would still need time to get ready, Friday’s are casual day, so maybe 10 minutes max. I would need to get the trash together and at least make the kids their breakfast, another 15 minutes. Loading the car, eh, 5 minutes. Plus make my smoothie, another 5 minutes. So, I would need to wake up somewhere between 6-6:30am to have enough time to get ready on my own terms.

The Kids woke me up at 6:35. And The Younger was very clingy… The Elder was fine but soon would be falling into an Asperger/Sensory meltdown that would rupture my thought process and instead of getting to work 45 minutes EARLY, I would end up being 30 minutes LATE.

The beginning of the Scenario starts with breakfast. The Younger indicated that he wanted Grits and The Elder wanted “Daddy Oatmeal” (read: flavored oatmeal). So, I make the oatmeal and the grits, thinking that The Younger is going to switch his mind because The Elder wanted Oatmeal and The Younger does whatever Everyone Else does.

I let the breakfasts cool down and then set them in front of the kids. The Younger, begins to eat his food, unassisted and unprompted. The Elder begins to meltdown. He doesn’t want to eat his Oatmeal. He tosses his milk cup, gets naked, threatens to pee on the floor, runs to his room, screams, and when he is set into a “wait area” he is crying.

He’s in a state of not using his words to tell us what is bothering him, even though we know that he can. Everything is familiar… bowl, spoon, milk, even the presentation of oatmeal is the same. Telling him that he has to eat his breakfast is making him meltdown even further. My Lovely and Talented Wife put the timer on the stove and tells him that he has 5 minutes to eat his oatmeal and then finally we get some indication on why he has been acting like a maniac.

It turns out that he didn’t want the spoon that I gave him. The same spoon that I’ve served him the last 3 times, instead he wanted the smallest (infant sized) version of our silverware. Once he got this spoon he ate his food without a problem and without fuss.

In contrast, our fairly neurotypical child, ate all of his grits with a regular sized spoon. Told us he was finished and asked up politely for more food.

So, back your Host (me)… this episode ended around 7:40 and so for me to get the rest of my stuff together, the trash, get ready for work… I finally left the house right after 8:05… totally in the wrong frame of mind because my routine, has been altered and even delayed because now I am late. It didn’t help that I missed my Breakfast Smoothie (for the second day in a row) and that I was late taking my anxiety meds.

Now, at work… I am very irritated and people are bothering me… just by talking amongst themselves. It’s distracting me from this post and I want to get this out. WON’T THEY JUST SHUT THE F- UP?

To screw up my routine even worse is that I have to do some bank stuff this morning… stuff that should have been taken care of without my assistance. And so… does this mean that I won’t get to workout… All HELL will break lose if I can’t do that. I need the comfort and routine of running to get back on the right path. I can tell that I am going to have chocolate cravings and drink extra diet coke this morning and afternoon.

But seeing that I am on the Spectrum and this is normal for me… I know how to control myself. I can now recognize what is happening and more importantly WHY. The Elder, doesn’t know why he’s acting the way he is… but we do. My Lovely and Talented Wife understands (better than I) how his Aspergian mind works and how it functions. So she can get the desired response (i.e. eat oatmeal) without her becoming too upset or frustrated… because SHE knows. Our marriage is MUCH MUCH better… because she KNOWS. It’s harder for me to see because I’m in the forest and can only see trees, but I am getting better at seeing the signs and understanding MY limitations. Because, if I … can get you to perceive that I am “pleasantly eccentric” then I’m on the right track.

So today… right now… is a little tough… but I know. And as I learned from the Neo-Classic (celebrating 25 years) GI Joe “Knowing is HALF the battle”…Doing is the other half.

Because of my inflexibility to adapt to the change in schedule… I’ve also met this criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome, which is one that I can usually overcome, especially when I around people I am NOT comfortable with as a way to appear normal.

A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
4. Lack of social or emotional reciprocity.

One of the ladies here donated her hair to Locks of Love. Now this is a huge step for a woman… not only do have to plan for this… you have to be willing to make the huge change in hairstyle. My reaction this morning… indifference. I will have to make up for this later today when I have higher functioning… my coworker doesn’t understand how I am… so I’m sure that my body language was something closer to asshole jerk than someone who is impressed that she would take that step especially since she is helping others.

So… it’s now 10am… the fog of frustration is starting to lift and I have 2 hours to get stuff done so that I can workout today and get BACK into my routine.

About planet3rry

I'm a husband, father and runner in the Knoxville area. I love the way that running makes me feel and how it has changed my thinking. I am always looking for the new PR whether in the 5k or the marathon