Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things

When I was young, Art Linkletter had a show on TV, one segment of which was "Kids Say the Darndest Things". He would interview young children (about 4-11 years old) and elicit some "unusual" answers from them.

In the spirit of that show, here are two snippets of conversation involving Buddy Boy that Liz related to me.

Buddy Boy went to his psychiatrist's office today, and Liz told Buddy Boy that he had to talk to the psychiatrist, and not just sit there and play with his Nintendo DS. So Buddy Boy went in there and after a bit said,

"So, are you like an occupational therapist for the brain?"

"Not exactly. I'm actually a child and adolescent psychiatrist."

"So do people come to you if they have problems with their brainstem?"

"No, actually, if they had problems with their brainstem I wouldn't be the right person to help them."

After a bit, Buddy Boy said,

"I know! I know! I know! Instead of talking, we could just e-mail each other back and forth!"

That's my boy. He's always thinking.

Later, when he was getting out of the bathtub, Buddy Boy asked Liz,

"Can I join the NAACP?"

"Umm, I don't know, dear. I don't know if they take child members, I'll have to look into that. Why do you ask?", responded Liz.

"Because then if someone treats me bad, I could just say I was a member."

Oh, that it were so easy. I'd have signed him up with them, as well as ASAN, a long time ago.


Niksmom said...

Oh, I can see Buddy Boy is picking up some serious smarts from his Dad! I love how he looks at things in a different way and how you make me/us do the same.

Ange said...

so.... are you going to let him try the e-mail thing? With the psychiatrist?

Club 166 said...

I laughed when I heard the "occupational therapist for the brain" comment. Liz said the doctor was suppressing laughter himself.

Then I asked Liz "So, did we get anything useful for the $150 we spent there?" She told me the psychiatrist did give her some recommendations for a person to give Buddy Boy some tests to possibly assist us to determine his learning style. He has a lot of problem with math, and we'd like to find a way to make it an easier go for him (lately we've been relying on lots of repitition of small bits of data).

I thought the "e-mail the therapy" suggestion was both a) very smart, as it would save gas, and b) a prototypically autistic answer. I loved it, but no, the doc doesn't do e-mail for therapy.


Maddy said...

Brilliant! Completely buried in the DS but hot wired to the conversation. Love it.

Daisy said...

Love his creativity. We did major testing a few years ago, including neuropsychologist and pediatric neurologist and geneticist...yada, yada, yada. I'm glad it was done, but I'm also glad it's over.

kristina said...

Emailing each other in the same room maybe.......

A boy of many words!

Anonymous said...

I love it! Hey, I would be all for just 'compunicating' with our doctors. That would save a lot of time. ;)

What a little smartie.

Casdok said...

You can't get much cuter than that!!

farmwifetwo said...

We're doing psychometric testing on our eldest (starting Gr 4) this year. He's coping.. but it's not right. I had to push for it with the help of the ped and the child psych b/c the school did the Wilcock Johnston Academic and it came back "average" (less the language section, which was a lot less) until you read the comments.

School's don't want to deal with it until your kid is 2 grades behind and I refuse to allow him to slip that far so we're homeschool... still... on top of doing school.

Love the comments.


Daisy said...

Just had a flashback to elementary school: one of my friends had connections through her mother's business; Art himself came to our school to tape a show, an anti-drug show. Long, long ago...

Mama Mara said...

I think Buddy's definition of a psychiatrist is wonderful. My son currently uses the term "feeling guy", which I worry makes the doc sound like a child molester.

Club 166 said...

I think it's a neuropsychologist we're going to go see.

Buddy Boy's psychiatrist consulted for the special school district at one time, so he knows which ones they'll actually pay (at least some) attention to. I love how more than half the game is political, and not just identifying educational needs.

We have also constantly supplemented his schooling with homeschooling, so as to keep him from falling behind. I'm sure they then think "Oh, he's doing just fine" when in actuality it's been Liz's diligence getting him workbooks and working with him (I help some, but it's mostly her) that is keeping him up in his weaker subjects with his peers.


AnneC said...

I think Buddy Boy is definitely on to something re. communicating via text with therapists. As far as I'm concerned, the current "realtime verbal" format of most health-professional interactions is an accessibility issue for many autistic people. I've personally struggled a lot with this -- often I only have access to very "scripted" spoken language when in doctors' offices, which in the past often meant I never brought up things that should have been brought up, and re-hashed some of the same (already resolved) stuff for years because, well, I had language for it.

The HMO I use (I'm insured through work) has a rudimentary e-mail system that I've tried a few times, but there's a strict character limit and it does annoying things like log you out after X number of minutes, and the interface is really crappy, so it's obviously not suitable for deep interactions.

I mentioned to one doctor recently that it would be great if we could communicate via e-mail and she said that it was difficult because of security issues (the crappiness of the email system is ostensibly due to a desire to maintain patient privacy, which I understand, but still).

Anyway, I've come up with something of a partial solution: which is that I always have a computer with me I can type on when I go see my psych. I have a few small, very portable devices (my current favorite being an HP Jornada 720 which I got on Ebay) and a laptop; these things permit me to at least bring notes to read from and type things out before saying them, or use text-to-speech, as my computers are all now basically equipped for that.

I really need to do a comprehensive blog entry on this stuff sometime, I really is an important issue and while therapy-via-email may still be impractical on a large scales, there are some things that can be done to make the experience somewhat more accessible for those of us on the spectrum.

Club 166 said...

While I considered e-mailing therapy impractical secondary to security issues (as AnneC mentioned) I have to thank you, Anne, for suggesting a hybrid approach that actually might improve the "quality of the signal" when people communicate with their therapists.


Phil Schwarz said...

@Club 166: "I thought the "e-mail the therapy" suggestion was both a) very smart, as it would save gas, and b) a prototypically autistic answer. I loved it, but no, the doc doesn't do e-mail for therapy."

Actually, the hands-down best psychotherapeutic advice I have gotten, in all my 52 years so far, came -- via e-mail, and gratis -- from one of the people I most value having met, through the online community of autistic self-advocates and allies: Rabbi Gershon Blackmore.

What he told me -- at a time after my son's diagnosis when our reading and research had revealed how much my own developmental trajectory meshed with the descriptions we'd read of Asperger syndrome -- was this:

"Never underestimate the therapeutic power of a personal narrative that rings true."

As is famously scribbled in the margin of the manuscript of the finale of Beethoven's Op. 135 string quartet: "Muss es sein? Ja, es muss sein!"

Phil Schwarz said...

@AnneC -- I encountered exactly the same access issue in talking therapy. (Years before I would ever have recognized it as an element that would fit into an AS frame.)

What I did, was to use a notebook. After each therapy session I would sit in the car and take a "coredump": write down everything I could remember, and references to every tangent I could remember, of the conversation during therapy.

Then I would bring the notebook with me to the next session, review it before we started, and refer to it and read from it as needed, to maintain continuity that was otherwise utterly shattered from week to week.

I dropped one therapist who objected to this (on the dogmatic grounds that free association was of paramount importance in the therapeutic model -- even for someone like me who would flounder aimlessly, confronted with way too many associations, more than could be put into words in real time, none of which built upon what we'd talked about the previous week).

But happily my use of the "coredump notebook" was accepted by the therapist with whom I worked the longest -- using our time together to "debug" and gain insight from social situations, though I didn't really know how fundamental it was that I was doing that, at the time, years before eventual AS diagnosis.

This underscores a real need out there: for psychotherapy providers working with autism spectrum adults, and autism spectrum adults with experience as consumers of psychotherapy, to come together to hammer out the elements of a set of therapeutic models that actually *work* for folks on the spectrum.

I would love to work with anyone with the connections in the provider community to bring a working group like that together. Perhaps it's something that could be done under the aegis of the AANE, on whose board I serve.

Club 166 said...


From a couple of random comments by my son to specific recommendations for therapeutic interactions with psychotherapists.

I love this place!

Great ideas, Phil. I have no idea who to talk to in terms of psychotherapy providers, but perhaps you and a working group in AANE could put something together and post it online. Another idea, if you could identify a psychotherapy group, would be to present something at one of their meetings, or try to get something published in one of their journals.