by Laura Sylvester
It was so nice getting back to “normal” on Monday night - just our pack. Rick and I sitting on the couch while Elliot bounced around the great room. Elliot has an established path he likes to take during this time. This includes a jaunt into the kitchen to draw a few flaming magic mirrors (Snow White) on our “art table” (a beat up 6-foot banquet table covered with butcher paper that now holds permanent residence in our kitchen so that drawing is available 24/7); then he skips over to the IKEA spinning toy for a whirl; then he takes a couple of hops over to the TV to ask for a cartoon. E usually accomplishes all of this with a cup of pear juice in hand that is capped with a straw. Spillage occurs less that can be believed. “I want Wow Wow Wubbzy Wuzzleburg Express on TVV” -- Rick and I give a rousing celebration for the 9-word sentence … and that’s the circuit. Now we rinse and repeat. This is a typical cycle of routine in our evenings and it holds great peace for me. It has sameness, predictability, and I get to hang out with the two men I love most in the world. At this moment, I feel very grateful.
The next circuit begins but this time, after the TVV, he stops at kitchen table # 2 (a smaller square card table size one that has melted wax all over the surface because lighting candles and blowing them out is motivating enough to prompt a 20-minute interaction). He says, “Let’s poka table,” which translated means, “I want to put it on the table.” This is a question, or at least I assume it is a question, because he will not put the cup down until someone says, “Okay,” or “Great idea. Go ahead.” I used to say “Go ahead. You don’t need permission,” but since our number one goal is for him to interact with us, our program supervisor suggested we just go with it. Sometimes I wonder if I was not in the room, how long would he repeat “Let’s poka table?” before he gave up and put the cup down. Maybe never?
Soon, he’s back to the drawing table and the circuit seems to be back together. BUT WAIT, he just detoured to the new wall hooks where Orbit’s leash is dangling. He grabs the leash and attaches it to his sleeping dog’s collar and attempts to pull him off his dog bed. Rick tells Elliot to say, “Let’s Go Orbit.” But then Orbit looks at Rick and wants to head his way. So I whisper it to Elliot, so only he can hear me. But then Elliot whispers it to Orbit and that’s just not strong enough to get Orbit going. And so, only 5 hours after they had departed, we had our first question for Tim and Elise…. Can we just let Elliot pull on Orbit’s leash without giving him instruction? It goes against everything we were taught! But if Elliot was non-verbal, he could not give verbal commands. So, I instruct myself -- let go and try to be in the now, who cares? Elliot just broke his circuit to engage with Orbit, WOO HOO!! We’re getting our bonding on and engaging in unique relationship-based behaviors. Breakthrough.