I'm joining the Five Minute Friday community today (and yes, I know today is Saturday!) writing for five minutes on a given prompt.
This week's word is ROUTINE. I went over the five minutes because I wanted to describe a particular episode that illustrates our autistic son's love of routine.
People with autism, at any age, often have a particular fondness for ROUTINE. Jonathan (age 15) in particular thrives on routine in his life. I thought I'd illustrate that by writing about this week's trip to see a doctor.
Jonathan fell and got a mild wrist fracture last month. We saw a pediatric orthopedic doctor in late February, and she gave us a removable wrist brace for him to wear and wanted to see us again in three weeks. So we went back this past Thursday.
The clinic is familiar to him; it's the same place he goes twice a year to see the pediatric neurologist who follows him for his seizure disorder. It is in one of our local hospitals, not far from our church, so we usually park in the church parking lot and walk the 4-5 blocks to the hospital.
Jonathan insisted we take the exact same route we always do -- pretty easy, since it's the most convenient route.
When we arrived at the front entrance, Jonathan excitedly noticed the shovels and brooms over in a corner outside the hospital. He is quite fixated on shovels and brooms, so he hurried over to check them out. He had to move one of the brooms slightly so that it was leaning against the wall just the way he liked it.
When we entered the hospital, we were met with tantalizing cafeteria aromas. "Smell soup and sandwiches!" Jonathan said loudly, for everyone to hear. I agreed it did smell very much like that.
We went into the clinic to check in. The receptionist we got was particularly friendly and greeted Jonathan by name. As he often does, he said a few random things (loudly) like "HOT CHOCOLATE!" She laughed and said that sounded really yummy.
We got settled in the waiting room, and Jonathan immediately wanted to get out the mini DVD player and the Wiggles "Rock-n-Roll Preschool" DVD we'd brought. This is the DVD we brought last time we'd gone to the doctor, so of course it made sense to bring the same one this time.
While we waited and quietly watched the Wiggles, Jonathan kept a furtive eye on anyone in the waiting room who was eating or drinking anything. He is extremely interested in putting wrappers in the garbage or empty coffee cups and lids in the recycling, and thinks nothing of going up to a stranger and grabbing their granola-bar wrapper or water bottle right out of their hands. So I monitored his interest in these fascinating goings-on and made sure he knew these were other people's things and he could not have them.
The nurse came to call us in. Jonathan jumped up and said, "HOCKEY GAME TONIGHT! HOT CHOCOLATE TONIGHT!"
We went into the examining room and waited for the doctor. Jonathan started to climb up on the examination table to lie down, but I told him that would not be necessary for a wrist exam. The doctor came in, checked the wrist, and assured us it seemed to be all healed up, so we started getting ready to leave.
Then the true crisis happened: we could not find one of Jonathan's mittens. Part of his love of routine is wanting to wear the exact same mitts, hat, and coat all the time; he has been wearing these same gray mittens for 2 or 3 years because he almost never loses anything. I knew I'd put his mitts and hat in the bag with the DVD player, but now only one of his gray mitts was in there. I checked the examining room and the waiting room, but no luck: the mitten was gone.
"GRAY MITTS!" Jonathan yelled.
"I think it's gone - do you want to wear my black ones?"
He put one of my black mitts on for about two seconds, then yanked it off. "GRAY MITTS!"
"I guess we'll have to find it later," I said. We left the clinic, Jonathan still complaining vocally.
We got back to the car and I drove him to his school (he was arriving about an hour late because of the appointment). His Educational Assistant came out to meet us, and Jonathan immediately yelled, "MITTENS GONE!"
I told the EA about the lost-mitt crisis and said I had put the rejected black mitts in Jonathan's backpack.
When I picked Jonathan up at the end of the school day, he was wearing the black mitts without complaint. Soon he won't need to wear mitts at all, and by next winter he'll have forgotten about the gray ones altogether.