12 Sep

  “Now this” I inform my son who is busy helping to get himself dressed, “is a pirate jumper.” I cover up one eye and then mime “jumper” for him as I do so. He doesn’t reply, but places his arms through the sleeves and then makes a good attempt at yanking the body of the jumper down. I carry on nattering to him.

 “Do you like your pirate jumper?” (hand taps heart area, hand over eye, tap arms). “Pirates say ‘shiver me timbers'” (hand over eye, shake shoulders, forearm on top of fore arm, the last one being improvised) He grabs my hand and places it onto his trousers that are lying on the floor.

 “You can put those trousers on yourself” I tell him, miming “you” and “trousers” as I do so. He stands up and immediately places both legs in the same hole, struggling and falling over.

 “Nearly”, I tell him.” “Sit down and try again.”

 He remains standing, trying to pull the waistband up, not realising why he’s finding it difficult.

    “Sit down” I tell him, adding the sign this time. He carries on with his endeavours. I’m torn between wanting to help him and wanting him to learn how to get himself dressed without any help. He appears about to tear the material on his trousers without any help. I make one last attempt to get him to sit down and the problem is solved when he falls back onto his bed and rather angrily takes his trousers off himself. The next try is rather more successful.

 “You’re going to nursery this morning” I tell him as we walk down the stairs to wait for the bus. “The bus will be here soon. Bus for nursery” (hands mime big steering wheel, hand up to face and round in circles to show the nursery).  He keeps quiet then starts humming a song about rabbits and their dastardly attempts to munch a plot of carrots.

 “Do you sing that song at nursery?” Again there is no reply. The bus turns up and he gets on it happily enough. I hope that the home school book will have enough information in it to help me talk and sign to him about what he’s done.

 Five hours later and we’re walking to the playground. He understands the sign for that now, thanks to “Something Special” doing a show about it the other day. As we’re approaching the park it occurs to me that I’m not sure where the entrance is, since we usually go to a different one. I confidently walk up to where I think it is and realise that the gate’s on another side, which means backtracking.

 “Wrong way” I tell Tom and his brother, who is sat in the buggy, though with designs on escaping the second my back is turned. “We go round”.

 This is not in Tom’s plan. We were going to the playground and now we are going AWAY from the playground. Not good. Not good at all. He says nothing but insteads sinks to the ground, tears streaming down his face.

 “We’re going to the playground” I try and reassure him. “We have to go to the gate.”

 His sobs become louder. I move to pick him up and he struggles, refusing to be carried or persuaded to walk. I look at him in despair.

 “Think!” I say to myself. “What would Mr Tumble do?”

 I kneel down besides him, my hands wiping at his face and hug him tightly. He cries for a bit more then wipes his face on my shirt. His hands move up to my chin and he starts moving it up and down, then starts to pull at my hair. One hand then moves up towards his own face and he covers his eye.

 “Are you a pirate?” I ask him, covering my own eye. He repeats the pirate sign several times.

 “Pirates say? …” I ask him

 He shakes a bit from side to side, then places one forearm on the other.

 Five minutes late my fearsome little pirate is battling  the slides.

12 Responses to “Pirates”

  1. Ms. Clark September 13, 2007 at 01:47 #


  2. kristina September 13, 2007 at 03:51 #

    Nothing like a little adventure on the high seas before the slides………

  3. mandyque September 13, 2007 at 08:44 #

    Beautifully written 🙂

  4. Kev September 13, 2007 at 09:10 #

    Brilliant entry :o)

    By the way, for our US cousins who don’t have the advantage of Cbeebies and Something Special, here it is.

  5. Sharon September 13, 2007 at 09:14 #

    Lovely Bullet!

    I think that you have words of advice there for every parent of a young child; what would Mr Tumble do?!

  6. Elissa September 13, 2007 at 11:05 #

    A lovely story. My husband had a similar experience recently with my son. They were on the way to the park in the car when I called my husband on his mobile phone to ask him to pick something up at the supermarket. My husband decided to go to the supermarket before the park – need I say any more!

  7. rebecca September 13, 2007 at 14:19 #

    Hey there. Just found this today and found it such a lovely read. My younger brother had severe autism and what you described is the same struggles and triumphs that I went through with him. There used to be a video that used makaton which might help with the signing. But we found it better to try and get him to speak as only a few places use sign.

    My brother lached onto adverts as a introduction to words. He would repeat the advert and then request someone else to repeat it (normally me) in a similar style. It took us a while that it was the adverts that he was repeating, his speach wasn’t that strong, but it improved with adverts. Another good one is music. Make them listen to varying types, prefereably ones you yourself can hear the lyrics. 70’s funk and glam rock are quite good starters. Kung Foo fighting is a great song, not only are the words simple but you can also imitate the actions, karate chops et al. My brother loved Hot Chocolate, not only could you understand the lyrics but the music is pretty good. Music DVD’s are a good way to introduce music but be warned, depending on the severity of Autism, they can become quite obsessed with them but its so worth it to hear them sing a song in full. I miss all that, my brother died last year, sudden death in epilepsy. It was hard work being sister, surregate mother, speach therapist, teacher and all the other titals you behold trying to help them. Don’t give up hope or love. I know it can be harder for Dad’s to understand it or to get to grips with it, but you will never get the same sense of achievement or satisfaction with anything else in your life. They are precious.

  8. Club 166 September 13, 2007 at 14:43 #

    Ahoy, matey!

    Shiver me timbers, but that’s a good yarn.

    Warms the cockles of me heart.


  9. bullet September 13, 2007 at 15:25 #

    Thank you for the replies :). I’m actually the mum in this :D.
    A special thank you to rebecca for her advice regarding talking. Tom was actually quite verbal, albeit not communicative (so things like delayed echolalia, singing, some labelling objects) but has recently dropped a lot of his talking. However, we have noticed an upsurge in communication via signing, which is helpful. We’d like him to be able to talk, because like you said not many places know sign, or if not talking then later on when his understanding improves some form of communicative device that would help him be understood in most places. He still comes out with some words, but nowhere near as many. He loves singing and we do lots of action rhymes and songs which have helped enormously with his communication and his understanding.

  10. bullet September 13, 2007 at 18:16 #

    Aarggh, I forgot to add that we’d like him to be able to talk/use some form of communication that relays either spoken or written communication that most people can understand as well as being able to sign. I don’t want him to think that signing is inferior, it’s been helping him so much and from my own personal experience verbal speech is not always possible.

  11. Sharon September 14, 2007 at 07:19 #

    I used only a few signs when my son was 3 and 4 ans not talking; like goodbye, finished and also like Bullet, I just used exaggerated movement along with words, but these were not Makaton signs. My son didn’t look at me enough to make signing work! He used some picture cards for a while. But as with Rebecca’s brother, it was his interest in watching tv that helped his speech, though in Duncan’s case it was Thomas videos. He’ start repeating a phrase of what to him was random but interesting sounds. I’d say it back, more slowly and clearly, and act out the phrase when we were playing. I also made up loads of songs about what we were doing through the day. His speech is great now!


  1. Principles, Shminciples | TangleBones - September 13, 2007

    […] here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Bullet has a great post up on Left Brain/Right Brain about his son that reminded me of when I took Jared to the zoo with my parents. In just the same […]

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