Monday afternoons are manic.
Grace and Josh often enjoy after school clubs until 4pm, and then twice a month we rush over to a neighbouring town for a bi weekly disability inclusive art and craft club. All three kiddies attend and love it, it’s really only our family and another couple of children but it allows Dad and I a bit of time to catch up on housekeeping etc without the little ones needing to interrupt us.
The timing of the art club backs straight onto an inclusive sports club just round the corner from where we live. This club then runs every week pretty much right up until bedtime.
Monday afternoons we don’t have room for error; it’s like a military operation to ensure that we get to where we need to get to, when we need to get there.
Where possible I tweak my working hours a bit to be able to assist. This week I got out of my car and into Dads waiting car full of kids fresh from the school pick up to head to the first club. Dads always super organised and has everyone a little packed lunch so no one complains about being hungry between clubs. Once I’m in the car I’m welcomed by greetings and stories of everyones day.
Dylan who is sitting in the back thrust a packet of crisps at me.
‘You don’t want these Dylan?’ – No answer ‘Hmmm, salt and vinegar, I thought you liked these, do you want them back?’
I pop the crisps back into the lunch bag and continue with the conversation.
Two minutes later Dylan taps my shoulder.
‘Muahm, I waa ippp’
‘You want your crisps back?’
And sure enough, he gets his crisps back and continues to munch away.
This is happening more and more. Indoors Dylan will often ask for a cup of tea. We’ll answer him ‘yes, you can have tea’ for him to respond with ‘tea?’ many many times until I have felt exasperated
‘ Yes! You can have tea!! Go and make yourself a cup of tea!’
I had felt it was either a communication breakdown and Dylan not understanding that yes he could have the tea so he would keep checking or maybe that it was a touch of laziness as Dylan seemed to change the word slightly to symbolise a strange type of request.
Once he makes his tea he will often bring it to us, showing us right up in our face, waving the nearly overflowing cup around clumsily – ‘Careful Dylan, you may spill it! Go and sit down and drink your tea, well done’
Dad told us about Dylan dping this on Monday during the day. This exact same situation occurred, Dylan kept questioning about tea, went and showed Dad in his face once the tea was made and was asked to go and sit down.
It was only after a couple of minutes that Dad smelt coffee and went to the dining table to see what he was doing and there was a mug of coffee on the seat next to Dylan drinking his tea.
‘Coffee Dylan?’ Dad questioned as Dylan doesn’t drink coffee anymore –
‘Is this for me?’
So all this time, we finally consider that the repeating isn’t confusion or echolalia and bringing things to us isn’t getting rid of what he doesn’t want or a frustrated thrust of a desired repeated item. It was simply Dylan trying to ask us if we may like a tea too – a behaviour he often sees modelled to him – and then offering us his item that he has to see if we would like some too.
Needless our lesson has been learnt and Dylan is being taught to say the words on the iPad to ensure that Dylan doesn’t get further misinterpreted or seen to be ‘oversharing’ and have us taking too many crisps or chips, and also to make sure that Dylan can have his kindness and generosity acknowledged and rewarded.
I’m sorry I didn’t realise what you meant Dylan – yet again I feel I’ve let you down.