One of the things that I find fascinating about Jasan is what he ends up watching on YouTube. He has studied a million washing machines and agitators, hospital equipment, IV’s and medication, all about app ad revenue, vending machines, bill acceptors on vending machines, kids dumpster diving for electronics (oh my…) SO MANY ELEVATORS, elevator parts, elevator animations, getting stuck in elevators, keypad deadbolts, research on cell phones of ALL KINDS, computers (obviously,) how to program thermostats, cash registers, hotel tours, computer logos, LED signs, electronic fails, screensavers, Zach King magic, windows software videos, Microsoft blue screens of death, fire alarms and exit signs, golf cart racing, iPods, appliance unboxing videos, the science max guy, getting scammed on eBay, cell phone battery low alert tones, weather radios, tornado warnings, baby monitors, Lutron lighting switches, refrigerators, dishwashers… and all of this is just compiled from looking through the last 6 months of his YouTube history! Interestingly enough, arcade games made the list. He has been watching these two channels (Arcade Warrior and Arcade Matt) and they video themselves playing all the games and winning tickets at arcades near them. The claw machine is a big one.
The fascination with the claw machine surprised me for some reason. I guess I have never thought much about them and haven’t been a big arcade person myself. But let me tell you; you can find people in the world that are obsessed with anything and everything. Claw machines are major.
I love how he studies the claw from all angles, just like the guys in the videos. Because he is the master of memorization, scripting while playing is always a must.
(Scripting is a form of stimming. By definition: “Stimming is behavior consisting of repetitive actions or movements of a type that may be displayed by people with developmental disorders, most typically autistic spectrum disorders; self-stimulation. A coping mechanism.” I like to describe it as the INCREDIBLE ABILITY to sound EXACTLY like someone or something you have heard before. And, maybe it just makes him feel good!)
I wish he could meet these YouTube guys sometimes. They would be amazed at the knowledge he has of every little move they have made and words they have said in their videos. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.
If it makes my guy happy to take a five bucks to the quarter machine (another highlight) and get a handful of coins to practice his claw skills, I say, “Let’s find more arcades!”
Then there are the home versions…
A few videos for you… Jasan took the last one. Now that he is a bit older, he takes his own photos and videos ALL. THE. TIME. I love it. It’s cool seeing his perspective.
It’s been some time since I have sat here, at my computer, alone. It’s nice. Time to gather and get out many thoughts I have been having about a big subject; INTERACTION.
Woodfield Parking Garage
IT’S TIME FOR ME TO SHUT UP. I didn’t realize how much I fill in the “empty” spaces in conversation or explain behavior when Jasan is communicating with other people. If he is having a meltdown of some sort in a store and someone that may be nearby makes eye contact with me, I whisper, “He has autism.” It makes ME feel better. Basically, I need the other person to understand that I am not a shitty parent and that’s WHY he is acting out. I blame it on the autism. I know, I know. I should’t care what anyone else thinks. But damn! That is really hard to do when it feels like you have a hundred judgmental people giving you the evil eye while your child is hitting or yelling at you; especially times when I have been on the floor trying to restrain him. That brings looks for sure.
As he is getting older, I have been more aware of my behavior when it comes to these situations. I make a point to keep this thought forefront in my mind:
“The people around me don’t matter. My son does. He needs ME and my CALM voice. He needs me to be 100% present for him in this moment.”
It’s been working very well for me. The awesome thing? It’s interesting when I keep my cool and focus how many parents walk up to me and say, “I get it. You are a great mom. Don’t worry; it will get better.” Wow. Talk about different energy attraction! When someone says kind words in a moment of stress, it takes that uncomfortable feeling away. It confirms that I am doing the right thing for my boy. What’s better than that?
Most recently, with Jasan’s elevator obsession, we have been frequenting many different buildings. I give him a time frame and let him do his thing to his heart’s content. The interaction that goes on between him and others in the elevators is fun, but also not so much at times. As happy as he is in an elevator, there is a level of anxiety that also occurs for him. He gets very wound up and on edge. It’s hard to explain. Almost as if he can’t control his excitement, but certain chime sounds or the impending “nudge mode buzz” (when the door has been open too long and an alarm sounds) scare him to death. He will cover his ears and push buttons with his elbows when he thinks nudge mode may happen. People stare at him strangely. (This type of moment is my usual cue to mouth to other people “he is autistic.”)
But guess what?
His mama is not going to be standing over his shoulder all of his life helping people understand his sometimes odd behavior. He is growing up and the “he’s a cute little guy and no one cares if something seems off” effect is slowly working it’s way out of situations. Now he may just be the strange kid.
We have been a good team, I have to say. I am a really quick with comments to ease situations. I have surprised myself in that regard; I never thought I had that in me. He says something that makes no sense to anyone (but him and me,) and then I say something witty and people laugh. It all makes sense then. My embarrassment (which I hate to say even exists) goes away.
I don’t like saying that I am embarrassed of him (sometimes) because I totally, completely love who he is. Difference is, now I am getting used to being quiet. The buffer of opening my mouth so that other people understand the whole picture, is now gone. He doesn’t need a “team” anymore. He is 7 years old, and he must learn how to deal with people on his own. If they don’t understand and give him an off-putting look, then so be it. (He most likely won’t care in the slightest.) On the other hand, he can soak in the compliments from people who think he is the cutest “elevator man” ever. He is so polite and courteous; asking which floor that they are going to and letting them know he is pushing the door open button when they come in and go out.
One of the traits of autism is echolalia (repeating.) He used to copy my language before he was able to have conversations. Now he memorizes, down to every little detail and sound, the elevator videos he loves to watch on YouTube. He imitates what these guys say while we take rides. I know EXACTLY what he is talking about when he does this and I am amazed at the accuracy in which he mimics these guys! It’s crazy good.
An example…there are a lot of videos he watches off of one YouTube channel and the videographer is from Sweden (but speaks English.) In Swedish, the word “elevator” translates to “hiss.” “People” translates to “personer.” These two words are all over signs in elevators in Sweden (of course.) He will use these Swedish words when talking to people and they are very confused, obviously. Again, I am used to stepping in and explaining, but I have to stop. It is just going to be weird and that’s it. I am going to sit with it and change how I feel about it!
New perspective: It is going to be very interesting to see how he matures and learns how to respond/share his thoughts/information with people. As he gets older, more oddness will come forth in casual chat and he will learn to navigate. His mama is a pretty good conversationalist, so I can always give him tips on the side. 😉
I am very excited to have a growing Elevator Series of Following Jasan photography. I envision an elevator fan book down the road…
*Our favorite YouTube channel is the original, very first (of now thousands) elevator videographer. Andrew Reams, aka DieselDucy. He is a great guy that has Asperger’s syndrome (which is on the Autism Spectrum.)*
For those of you that don’t know this little fact about Jasan, well, he is very infatuated with washers and dryers. He has been for years! You would have thought that I would have come up with the idea to visit a laundromat much sooner, but alas. Age 6 and we have finally made it.
Apparently, we now will be washing our comforters on the regular at this place. 🙂
So, you put money into the VRT machine which therefore loads your special card with credit. No more quarters needed; you swipe and are good to go!
I love how he is going through an independent stage (with certain things.) He does not need my help; goodness no! Cutest thing ever. We picked our two washers, #10 & #11, and got things started. Huebsch was the brand name of all the equipment in this particular place, so of course he called them by “name.”
Front loaders are very cool but they also had old school top loaders…
He is exploring the feeling of the vibration with his chin. He also liked that he had a 32 on his sweatshirt and he found the 32 in the laundromat. (It’s the little things!)
I love how Jasan is friendly, but the one part of the laundromat that can get a little out of control is how he wants to “help” everyone there. He will walk up to random people and ask if he can help them load their clothes in the washer. lol.
Women are usually understanding and pretty cool about it, but men? Ha. The ones he has chosen look quite confused when he offers his assistance. It is hard for me to tell him “No” in the moment. He doesn’t understand the social awkwardness of what he is doing. So, in preparation for next time, BEFORE going inside we will have the talk about people we don’t know. Can’t help everybody! I love his innocence though. I kind of wish it was okay. It’s precious.
These are the things he will remember. I hope that he feels my genuine interest in what he likes. As boring as this may be to many, it is completely fascinating to my son. These little adventures to nurture his curiosity just builds his bond with me. I want him to feel like I build him up; and if he is really into something we can go check it out and he can explore the way his brain wants to.
People can look at us and wonder why he is making mechanical sounds and getting so excited because the spin cycle is on, but I don’t care anymore. That is who he is and I think he is a rare gem.
We see (and hear) the Metra train all the time. Rarely do we use it, so Jasan and I ventured out. When I mentioned to a few people what we had in mind for the day, they said, “Where are you going?” and I replied, “To Chicago!”
I got a look from one person who thought it was ridiculous that we weren’t going anywhere specific outside of the Ogilvie station. Some people just don’t get it. The cool thing about this adventure is that it is not about the destination. It is completely about the journey. The details about the train. The huge train station at the end of the line in Chicago. The elevators! The escalators! Oh. Endless things to check out without going out of the train station. Not that I was opposed to doing anything else once we got downtown, I just knew we didn’t need to.
I knew that would be plenty to fill him up with a day full of happiness…
Here it comes! The lights shining our direction and the anticipation of loud train sounds about to be near.
The top floor is where we gravitated to and it was pretty perfect. Empty. Just us.
I had tons of fun shooting him. Of course I was using my phone on silent; otherwise he would have had none of it.
(He is wise to me now…)
I loved all the nuances he was noticing…
The cute coat hook.
Watch your step…
We approach the end of the line.
His eyes lit up as we got off of the train. All of the people, the huge train wheels, the multiple trains on multiple tracks, the hustle and bustle feeling everyone getting where they need to go… Taking it all in.
We made it…
The screens! The clock! The light! The windows! (And that is just when you look up…)
“Mama! Found the elevators!”
“This way, Mama…”
This was my favorite part of the whole day. There was about 45 minutes straight of up and down the escalators, and he held my hand almost the WHOLE time. LOVED THAT.
If you have read earlier posts, you know he is a fan of “OTIS.” He only knew Otis in elevator form. It was way cool to meet Otis in escalator fashion. 😉
Obviously we separated after a long while of hand holding and up and down to switch it up… Jasan up and Mama down… Mama following Jasan (go figure!) and Jasan behind Mama…
But then the elevator needed revisiting.
Otis escalators… Back for more…
Do you see a pattern here?
As boring as this could be for me, I choose to not look at it as so. I document him. I watch him figure things out. I Let him make his own choices. I let him lead the way and feel like a big guy. Independent. Showing ME the way. Letting me into his world. It’s beautiful.
But, adventures always need to come to a close…
I didn’t know this until Grammie told me when she picked us up afterwards…
Jasan told Grammie (on the way TO the train) to take us to “kiss and ride” so we can get on the Metra.
Because Jasan is so literal, exposing him to new things is paramount. The more memories in his mind, the more he has to relate to. Sometimes I find myself getting complacent about the weekends because the week is so busy. Well, I am making an effort to change that.
We had such a great time at our first hotel stay, I decided that we should do another…but add a mini road trip to get there! Milwaukee; HERE WE COME!
Yes, I realize Jasan looks less than enthused, ha, but that had more to do with the fact I was taking ANOTHER PICTURE. 😉
Once we hit the expressway, he rolled his window down and was feeling the speed. He usually isn’t a fan of wind in his face, but he was loving it. I was loving watching him experience it. He was embracing his hair blowing in the wind and the feel of “mph” in his little hands. So cute.
One of the many things I love about him is his ability to interpret sound and memorize it in such a detailed way that when he recreates certain sounds on his own it’s freaky good. Lately no music in the car has been his choice. “Mama, car sounds only.” I can only imagine what he was taking in when I look at that photograph.
While we were driving we talked a little bit about what we might do when we are there. Jasan’s idea of an amazing weekend would be literally to not leave the hotel. And honestly, on these hotel adventures, I want to just follow his lead. All week long he is told what to do at school. He would play outside until 9:00 at night if I let him, but he has to come in early to get to bed on time. It’s this and that or another thing, so on this weekend I let him run the show. I love watching him do what he loves and to see where his inspired impulses lead him… and I take photographs.
I pretty much knew I was in for tons of elevator and treadmill time. Maybe a splash in the pool, but the elevator was going to be his deal.
And… he found them.
Observing, listening, looking. Checking out every nuance.
We walked into our suite and he squealed with delight when he saw the microwave. (That was worth the extra $ for the suite just for the look on his face. He also has a thing for microwaves.) I did my regular OCD unpacking thing and organized our space. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased at how nice our suite was, which made it even more fun for me. (I have a thing for fabulous hotels…)
We went to explore the hotel and tackled the workout room.
We met a couple of friends in Milwaukee and they were with us for part of the afternoon. Edward knew his daughter Eva would love the pool at the hotel, so they joined in some of the fun. I was excited to introduce Eva to Jasan for a couple of reasons.
First being HER NAME. The movie Wall-E! And you know… Eve “ev-a!” Jasan is obsessed with that movie. Just the fact that he could meet a real Eva is so cool. And, he loves girls, so perfect combo. Eva also is beautifully autistic, so I was really looking forward to them interacting together.
Eva joined us in the workout room. My silent photo shoot started. 🙂
And did I mention how much her socks made me smile?
Eva was bubbly and talkative. Inquisitive of her surroundings. Similarly, they were both very much into how the treadmills go around and around. I loved watching Jasan watch her check stuff out.
Jasan had a lot of fun watching Eva going very fast. She was smiling and laughing at the exhilaration of how she was running so quickly and then we would press STOP. Then, repeat. 🙂
After a bite to eat, we swam in the pool which is always fun. Eva and Jasan both love the water. The pool was a bit on the small side and was quite full of little ones, so we didn’t stay too long. We parted ways shortly after with Edward and Eva.
Jasan and I were back into hotel exploration mode. I love the feeling that I get when we are in a new environment and it is just the two of us. He holds my hand a little more often because I am his security blanket. I watch his eyes as he deciphers new information surrounding him; wide eyed and curious. Full of energy. And the sun set…
We ate dinner together and rode the elevator. Tons. I mean like hours worth of tons.
I am always so in love with how people react to Jasan when he is in his element. We must have seen 50 people or so that evening in the elevator. On his own he started asking people, “What floor?” and the elevator man he was. I sat there, watching in my glory to the faces of admiration about his cuteness. After we had seen the same group of women three or four times, I whispered to one of them about his autism and they smiled; as if it all made sense now in their minds.
We laughed and played elevator operator and connected in our way. I got on his level and he (without knowing) let me take photos of him. We had a complete blast.
And when the late little kid hour of 9pm rolled around and behavior started getting squirrely, we got into the cozy hotel bed and played iPad. He fell asleep in 5 mins and I fell asleep in 6. Snuggled like we love it. <3
The sun peeked through our curtains in the morning and Jasan woke and double checked with me that we were still in Milwaukee.
We woke and showered and the microwave was a big hit. I am in love with this photo of him.
and this one…
and maybe another angle on the first one because I love it so much.
The little coffee maker?
Was a super fun thing too. We brewed many cups of water…
And then back to the elevator before breakfast. I felt like I knew everyone in the hotel from the night before!
I wonder what he hears in there and what the vibrations feel like to him.
This may be my favorite. The squint.
We did venture out for a short while…
Visited a park on the beach.
(this photo taken by a friend.)
And literally touched a TURBINE. This was ways cool in his mind. He LOVES turbines. Who knew Milwaukee had one you could walk up to?!?
And then we ventured back home. Home sweet home.
More “mph” in his hands…
and a tuckered out little love of my life.
We had a wonderful Milwaukee adventure. We connected and made new memories.
We met sweet Eva…
I love mini getaways. I love special adventures. I love watching Jasan be Jasan. I love being his mama. I love how he told me “I love you Mama” all on his own. (4th time I’ve ever heard it from him.)
I love this photo. Not just because I think he has the cutest butt ever… ha, but because it is so totally Jasan.
He is holding my telephone headset that I use at work. I must have worked from home on this day and he decided that it would be the object of his attention when I wasn’t using it. He calls it “Plantronics” because that is its brand name. In Jasan language it means headset. Just like “GE Profile” can mean microwave, “Cuisinart” can mean coffee pot or “Toshiba” can mean a computer. He has wowed many cashiers at stores when he has read what brand name the cash registers were at the age of “little guy who shouldn’t know how to read yet” as he always has requested to sit on the counter tops during check out.
And then… Nakedness. Oh, the freeing feeling of being naked. For my sensory sensitive little guy, no clothes are always his first choice. I have always had the belief system that at home, while it is age appropriate, he can be a naked jaybird if he wants to. Why not?
The curiosity of what’s going on outside the window…I bet he was led there because of a sound. He is fascinated and fearful of sounds at the same time. He will put his ear up to everything, but then will shy away from sounds too.
There have been so many times when I wish I could experience senses how he does. I would love to understand him even more than I do. <3
Jasan loves numbers.
He has been sounding out words and reading since he was 2 1/2. He loves watching shows like Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, and plays Bingo with me because of the numbers and words attraction.
I decided that I would start an on going numbers and letters photo series for him…
I am having fun with it… these are just a few. Someday I will do something cool with them all and gift it to him.
Maybe on Valentine’s Day. <3
2295. That’s what Jasan and I term the office. This is the building where I work. I have a new job and I am loving it so much. Because I can’t entirely work a full day yet, (single mom, no daycare, the boy is done with school and off the bus at 3:15 pm,) I came up with the brilliant idea of working Saturdays.
I remember very clearly the couple of times I went to my dad’s office when I was young. He was a graphic designer in my early years, and he had the coolest office. Just the whole office environment was pretty darn awesome in my opinion. It felt so “adult” and it was a chance to, for a few hours, be part of someone else’s everyday reality that wasn’t mine. Obviously because it was my DAD’s reality, it meant a lot to me. Plus, being the artistic little girl that I was, I could not get over the massive marker set that he had. I’m not talking about Crayola or Sharpie kind of markers, these were the “professional artist” Prismacolor set of markers. Not to mention, I was not drawing on typical copy paper, it was those artist pads of special “drawing”paper. ha. (This was graphic design before computers took over!)
Now, with my son’s love of computers, and anything mechanical really, I figured he would love coming to the office I work in.
I was SOOOOOO RIGHT.
This Saturday will be week 5 of this experiment. I knew it would take a couple of Saturdays of just exploring with him and that I would not get any real “work” done. I was very correct about that. 🙂 But now, he knows what he wants to do when we go there and he LOVES it! (And, I can actually be productive.)
I am hoping to create a fun memory for him.
Oh man. The Canon. This puppy is a BIG hit. We hardly EVER use this tank of an old copy machine. But, Jasan has provided it some love lately because it is his new object of affection. I keep a special stack of “Jasan paper” that we keep reloading for his use. He does not care what is being copied. It is all about the sounds and the mechanics of the machine.
And then, Mama’s headset. (heehee. It’s just cute on him.) He was quite mesmerized by it at first. We call Grampie from the office every time and Jasan will mumble about turning computers on and off and Canon and copying, etc. (We are still not quite versed with talking on the phone. It’s pretty much a mystery to the person on the other end what the heck Jasan is saying, but it is adorable none the less. He is really trying!)
The conference room is way cool too. The computer in there is viewed on the big screen which is very handy when watching Wall.E videos on YouTube! He wears his noise canceling headphones because we also have a fancy coffee machine that is a bit noisy when you turn it on. And off. And on. 🙂
Because it is pretty much just us in the building on Saturdays, we can run down the hallway to the lunch room. Putting coins in the vending machine to get chips and Oreos (ha…his favorite!) is always a thrill. There is a key code to get into the restroom, and of course we have to spend a few minutes there each time as well.
I like that we have our Saturday “Mama’s office” routine. It fills him up with his time to explore, and I can get a few more things done that I wasn’t able to Monday – Friday with my limited hours.
And……..we are together. I love that more than anything.
Jasan and I were gifted a night stay at a hotel nearby our home and we went for it this Saturday night. (Thank you Lisa & Ken Leisering if you are reading this!)
WHAT AN AMAZING TIME. I cannot say enough good things about this mini getaway. Because Jasan and I do not live alone currently, it was nice to just spend some quality time together. Just the two of us. My intention going into this overnighter was to just let Jasan explore this space exactly as his heart desired. I would then, in turn be in awe of his perfection of himself and how he views the world.
It was magical.
Whenever we have spent time in hotel rooms, Jasan has always gone for the thermostat. Of course! I let him change it to his heart’s desire. Hot, cold, on, off… This one was “Amana.” (Everything is named by it’s brand in Jasan’s world.)
Oh! And we had so much fun in the elevator. We pretty much did the majority of our multiple rides just the two of us, but occasionally we would have other riders. An alarm would go off if people would press more than one floor at the same time (hence the noise canceling headphones.)
Now, I have been practicing for some time now just letting Jasan truly be Jasan. That means, I will not allow myself to be affected by other people’s reactions to him. So, while we were riding the elevator, I did not sush him. He was a little loud in the hallways at times, but I let him be. He was hugging kids like crazy in the pool and I let him go. You know what? Everyone loved him.
The alarm went off in the elevator when we were with two teenage girls and an older woman. Jasan was loudly matching the tone of the alarm while it was going off, and the girls were like, “Oh! He’s so cute!!!” and giggling incessantly. The older woman commented, after the alarm had stopped, “Oh my goodness!!! He matched pitch!! How old is he? That is not normal for 5 year olds to match pitch! You are going to be a singer, boy…” and all I could think was, HE ATTRACTS LOVE EVERYWHERE HE GOES WHEN I LET HIM BE WHO HE IS. I have seen it many times before.
I am done with sushing him to what I think society deems appropriate.
When I revel in his “Jasan-ness” he rocks it. We are both vibrating on a high. It’s FABULOUS.
He hasn’t had much experience with these old school phones. (Its crazy. Am I getting old? Will he ever hear a busy signal? haha) His examination of this was too funny and so brilliant.
“What the hell is this thing?” He is probably thinking. But then, his brilliant mind goes to this:
I was giggling inside so much about how much I LOVE THIS KID!!!!!!!!! I COULD EXPLODE I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.
I feel grateful that he is oblivious that I photograph him all the time. Because I use my iPhone, I can put it on silent and he hears nothing. It’s fabulous. I get to be in my bliss creatively capturing the beauty of my son. WHAT COULD BE BETTER, REALLY?
Those of you that know Jasan or religiously follow this blog know that the GUEST LAUNDRY was a huge hit. 🙂
I love him. I love him fully. I love him regardless. I love him always. I love him EVERYDAY EVERY MINUTE. Even if he spits in my face sometimes. I love him. He is perfect.
Newsflash: ALL OF OUR KIDS ARE PERFECT.
When you look at your children that way, they will feel UNCONDITIONAL LOVE from you.
Think about that word UNCONDITIONAL. We all say it quite a bit, but I don’t think we all act it out, REALLY.
Loving someone completely and fully, WITHOUT CONDITION. Regardless of anything that they might say or do. They are NOT here to please US. We are given these children as gifts…to love them for who they are. However that is. It is my opinion that we do not grow up learning to love this way.
Think about it.
We are so used to reacting to conditions around us…what would happen if we just fully loved our children and they felt that from us, energetically, unconditionally? Worlds would change.
I am really getting used to just doing our own thing wherever we are. Sometimes being self-conscious will still creep up on me, but mostly, I OWN IT. As Jasan gets older, I appreciate who he is becoming even more. I keep reminding myself to step back and look at the big picture. I may not totally understand everything now. But, I picture myself looking back at his life when he is in his twenties and it all making sense. Why does he have an obsession with appliances? What is it about fahrenheit and barometric pressure that makes him smile so much? Why does my son prefer Best Buy over Toys R Us? I don’t know, but I’m his biggest cheerleader.
We hung out at good old Best Buy for quite awhile today.
Refrigerators were a hit.
There will always be the beloved washing machine.
And now, the most recent addition to fun spots to go in Best Buy? The printer aisle. We had a lot of fun with sound effects and powering multiple different models on and off.
On a BUSY Saturday afternoon was I spotted taking pictures of my son LOVING on appliances from many WEIRD angles?
Did I care?
Did a million Best Buy employees come ask us if we needed help?
Did they look at me weird when I said my son likes to hang out by the washing machines and we are just pushing buttons and listening to sounds?