Friday, September 9, 2011

My lips are sealed

Right now Hal and I are in Springfield, Oregon at our daughter’s home, helping out with the grandkids. We are giving Kristin time to do her online courses, while we care for three-year-old Peter. Peter is legally blind and autistic. Other than that, he is a bright, beautiful, active toddler. And life is an adventure.

Among the many things we’re learning about autism are the unique ways people with this condition process language. They think in pictures and take things very literally. They have trouble with metaphors and imagery.

The other morning I was getting Peter up and I said something that irritated him. He ordered me to “No Grandma talk!”

I responded with, “You don’t want me to say that? All right. My lips are sealed.”

He immediately sat up in bed, dug his stuffed seal out of the covers, found its mouth and said, “Seal’s got lips. Seal’s got lips.” (Repetition is another characteristic, usually more than twice.)

I laughed and tried to explain what I meant. We then got him dressed and headed down the hall to breakfast. Entirely out of context, he said, “Peter’s lips are sealed,” then changed it to a question, “Are Peter’s lips sealed?”

We enjoyed his remark so much that he has adopted this phrase and at various times throughout the day, always out of context, he will inform us that “My lips are sealed.” The new bed time ritual involves picking up his seal and making some comment on his lips, after which he’s free to go to sleep.

Life is indeed an adventure, and young Peter is teaching us much. He certainly keeps me on my toes. (Now how would he picture that phrase? Grandma in a tutu, doing pirouettes?)

Though his lips may be sealed, Peter can still grin.

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