Poor Bill …
Perhaps I should expand a little on the story I told in my last post – Autism : The Jam Donut Theory.
I commented that by changing the ‘format’, the pattern of behaviour, something magical had appeared. But there’s more to it than that. Of course there is. There always is.
We occasionally find with Ian that he will become fixated on a tiny section of one of his movies, and say something – sometimes just one word – over and over. It can actually become a bit tiresome …
But it is crucial to realise that what he really wants is an answer. Just as Mary desperately wanted someone to say something other than their name when she asked her question to everyone, again and again.
Not just any answer, of course. The right answer, given in the right way …
I’ll give you an example.
Recently, Ian was stuck on the words “Poor Bill”. He said it a hundred times – he was even becoming quite sad, almost tearful.
This happens sometimes, and it’s distressing for all of us. We tried repeating the words, but that didn’t seem to be what Ian wanted.
The next time I heard Ian say it – when he was sitting in his bath – I took a flyer. I inhaled, in stages, as if I were about to sneeze –
I had Ian’s complete and riveted attention.
I fake-sneezed loudly, followed by an explosive sound – “ptshhhhhhh” – and a rising whistle as I looked upwards.
“Well, there goes Bill!” I said.
And then I copied the voice of Alice (from Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’), and said quietly “Poor Bill…”
Ian was delighted, and smiled from ear to ear.
Of course, Ian knows every single one of his Disney movies by heart, word for word, from beginning to end. By some form of osmosis, Neil and I do as well. And in Ian’s life, that is essential. Because it means we can step in and alter the pattern, answer the question, or complete the scene, and thus alleviate the stress caused by rigid patterns of behaviour – or the distress caused by a scene that won’t leave his brain.
I found the relevant section from that film on YouTube. Have a look. It’s fun –