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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Socks and the Chips Store

Lately, I've been having an even harder time than I usually do finding matching socks for Janey. I swear I can buy 100 pairs of matched socks, and within weeks, I have 100 socks, none of which match each other. It's a mystery. But it's been getting worse and worse, and I think I figured out why. Janey keeps bringing me a couple socks and handing them to me. It's her way of saying "Let's get going!" She much prefers bare feet, and has figured out that when socks get put on her, it's time to go someplace.

And the place she wants to go all the time? The "Chips Store". The chips store is the CVS on the way to and from Janey's school. It's where we occasionally stop for Janey's treat---which is usually a can of Pringe's Salt and Vinegar Chips. It's something I'd do usually on a Friday, as an end of the week treat. Last week, because Janey asked so clearly and nicely, and because I needed something else there too, we went on something like a Tuesday. The next day, Janey again asked perfectly, saying something like "I want to go to the chips store. Can you say Please?" and I couldn't resist. Then a third day last week, I needed to pick up books at the library across from the CVS, so I told her if she was very, very good while I picked up the books (which she often is not---libraries bring out her urge to scream and throw things), we would go to the chips store. She was great in the library, so we went.

And of course, I've created a monster. She wakes up and the first thing she says to me is "Go to the chips store". She brings me socks, and sometimes for further emphasis, my pocketbook. She gets herself dressed as much as she can. She pulls out all the stops.

And that is fine, except I don't want her to have a can of chips a day. The medication she is on can cause weight gain, but hasn't in her at all yet. I worry about weight issues as Tony is an insulin-dependent diabetic, as are most all the members of his family. They have a hugely genetic form of Type 2 diabetes, which hits them hard. Despite all Tony's hard work, he is going to have to start having more shots a day and more testing. It's the auto-immune issue popping up again---my favorite autism theory. I have autoimmune thyroid disease, Freddy and I both have asthma, another auto-immune disorder---it pops up on both sides of the family all over.

I wish I could find something else Janey loves as much and is as motivated by as the chips store. She is not like some kids with autism, with huge obsessions with certain topics or foods or items, although she gets crushes on things for a while, like Funions or certain songs. But the chips store is showing me the power of her increasing ability to make connections and plans. She is thinking ahead---"I need socks on to go to the chips store". She is controlling her behavior---"I need to be quiet in the library if I want to go to the chips store" She is using speech to actually ask for the store. It's pretty cool to see. I wish they sold very small cans of Pringles---we'd go every day!

5 comments:

cee said...

... Do you think they could order 100-calorie snack packs for you? I don't know if they're labelled for individual sale; depending on the size of the store they might even be willing to just hold onto some for you?

Sabrina said...

I know that Pringles does sell smaller containers in sets of four; I don't know if they come in Janey's favorite flavor though. Just a thought...

Suzanne said...

Good ideas! I know some time in the past I saw small containers of Pringles. I don't think they have any at that store, but I could possibly just get some for the car, and we could go into the store for something else and then have Pringles when we get out, to keep the ritual up! I'll have to see if they come in Salt and Vinegar, as that is definitely the only kind she likes!

cee said...

I asked my partner the direct services guy what they would do where he works (I knew from reading his manual that they do a lot of "first do worksheets, then draw with purple crayons" or "first stack dishes, then play with the bubble blower" stuff where he works, which is partially residential and partly an adult day program). He said that something that seriously works as well as "first socks and shoes, then library, then pringles" would be considered a good behavior reinforcer where he works, especially if it were the 300-calorie short-stack can a couple of times a week for someone who was otherwise pretty active and capable of eating balanced foods. I asked him about splitting up a big can into baggies or something and he said he's worked with people who would think that was great and he's worked with people for whom the fun would involve getting the can and opening the can as well as eating the pringles, so if he and his team were trying to work out the answer they might try either and see what works. (He reminded me that when I'm feeling very bummed about graduate coursework, for example, and want to get myself a treat for dinner I really love to buy one of those organic frozen burritos and microwave it till the ends are just short of burned because I like it to be crunchy, and that lots of neurotypical people have food-treat rituals like eating a certain cereal out of a certain bowl or sorting their skittles by color or eating a frozen banana with a fork or whathaveyou).

I'm just reporting this because it was an interesting conversation - you sound like you're doing fine! and I don't want to come across as giving unsolicited advice :D

Suzanne said...

I love your input! It helped me relax a little about the chips, as long as we keep it within reason. It really is amazing what a motivator it is. I think Janey is one of the people for which the fun involves the can and the whole ritual more than just the chips themselves. The last time I got her some, she didn't wolf them down. She seemed more just excited to have stopped and gotten them. I use food reinforcers for myself too---I liked your burrito story!