As parents of a child with Asperger’s, we are constantly careful about how we introduce changes to Andrew’s routine. We’re work around his tendencies to be inflexible when trying new things. For 6 months, night after night, we talked about what having a baby sister would be like. We covered what he would do with her when she was a baby vs. when she became a toddler vs. when she would grow into a little kid. We plan ahead for unavoidable changes to his routine like going to Elementary School for the first time. We made a picture book about his new school that we could talk through every night before he started Kindergarten. We explicitly prepare him for unexpected disappointments that may occur in his day. We warn him that his favorite restaurant may not be open when there is a holiday and when the weather might not be good for what he wants to do the next day. At the beginning, his inflexibility ruled our lives, training us to be constantly careful. Today, we are still careful but it’s become habit. We’ve also learned to appreciate his inflexibility.
One of the first things Andrew learned to draw was a flower. When he was learning to draw flowers he asked me what my favorite was and I told him my favorite kind were purple flowers since purple is my favorite color. Over the years, I have had hundreds of purple flowers show up on crafts, drawings, art and presents. At one point, I worried that he couldn’t draw other things. It turns out he could but he chose to bring home drawings of purple flowers because he knew that I like purple flowers.
Over the years he’s added other things to his repertoire. He knows I like it when he helps put away laundry. Thus Andrew’s Delivery Service was born. I am an enthusiastic customer. He knows his little sister Zoe likes to get a piggy back ride back to the car when we pick him up from school. He gives her a piggy back ride every day. Years later, he still brings home art with purple flowers. And I know that he is still thinking of me during his day. He also brings home pictures of pink, purple and red flowers for Zoe since they are her favorite colors.
The thing about Andrew is that once he knows what you like he never forgets and he never gets bored. He continues to build up a list of things that his favorite people like. And then he does them over and over and over. He is constant and consistent in his affection. My hope for the future is that his life is filled with people that appreciate his unique way of expressing his love.
Jeanne, mother of Andrew