Friday, March 14, 2014

Autism: For Once Everything Turned Out Perfect

by Pamela Mari

On bad days with autism it's hard to remember that there are in fact, good days.  The other day was no exception but the outcome made it all worth it.

My son had been bugging me to play a computer game with him.  Bear in mind that he can no longer see due to a horrible health condition.  So I am his eyes.  The game was a a Jump Start brand game and a relatively old version at that.  We have a desktop computer in our sun room that runs an old version of Windows just to accommodate his "old" pc games.

We start the game.  You have to pick a pet and then play other "mini games" to win prizes for the pet.  Then you get to fly the pet to a "new home" via hot air balloon. There are about 8 pets total.

A few years ago I went to a Best Buy store looking for some item my son had requested and I told the salesman we had some of the series but my son "had to have them all".  "Oh, he's a completist" he replied.

Completist:  noun
collector who attempts to collect an example of every item in a particular field.

While this is true of my son and mom can attest to trying to provide all the items in each particular collection, that's another blog.

I would say he's also:

A Finisher:
1. To arrive at or attain the end of: finish a race.

You can't just stop in the middle of the game.  YOU MUST FINISH.

With that in mind we muddle through the game.  We've got a few "pets" under our belt when all of a sudden, the game crashes.

I felt my heart and all my other internal organs, sink to my feet.  I knew what was coming.  The meltdown ensued.  The offering of "we can start again" did nothing.  I suggested, wondering if it was the program itself, or the old computer that was causing the problem, that we try again tomorrow in the bedroom on that desktop computer.  As the words exited my mouth I thought "oh God, what if the program won't run on that one?"  It runs a newer version of Windows.  But tomorrow is another day.

So, as it will, tomorrow came.  Predictably so my son headed for the sun room to take another shot at the "unfinished game".  I quickly grabbed the CD and ran to the bedroom.  I inserted the disc and low and behold it loaded. "Let's try it in your room today" I announced. And so we did.

I'm so desperate for this darn game to work and to be able to "finish" that I start clocking how long it takes for each "pet" to finish his appointed duties before we move on to the next one.  My heart is in my mouth that we can finish the game before another "crash" happens. 

Ok so you have to make the balloon animals, and line up the animals in the correct size order and give the pet his treat and then you can fly away in the hot air balloon.  But being the "completist" that he is, my son has to use each option, that while available, is not necessarily needed to move on to the next animal.  Meaning, he has to stop and listen to "the itsy bitsy spider" and "barn house rock" before we can fly away in the balloon.

And I as the "mouse operator" on this mission am

"WHITE KNUCKLING" hwīt'nŭk'əl, wīt'-) also white-knuck·led (-əld)
adj. Slang
Characterized by tense nervousness or apprehension:

my way through this game.

We finally train and adopt out the last "pet" and the words that I seldom hear make the whole nerve wracking, nail biting experience seem like a walk in the park.

As he leaves the computer and walks to the kitchen my son says "For once everything turned out perfect!".
"Thanks for playing with me!"

Was it worth it?  Oh yeah and I could not feel more "complete".