Thursday, February 13, 2014

Out of the mouths of babes ...

Most parents of autistic kids have a story to tell about how their child(ren) have said a swear word or two or ten -- sometimes daily.  I have been incredibly lucky about that because neither of my boyz have ever done that.

Joe goes out of his way to NOT say words that he thinks are bad or inappropriate.  I have him read to me daily (and have for years) and for a while whenever the word "God" would appear (not as a noun) he would change it to "gosh" and he would change "damn" to "darn" and he would do it without pausing or stumbling so for the longest time I didn't think any of the books he had chosen had any cuss words.  This worked fine in most stories but then he was reading the Percy Jackson series and the kids are at Hoover Dam and they start talking about the "dam snack bar" and how they want a "dam burrito" and he figured out that it was only funny if he actually said the word dam/damn.

For a 19 year old, he is so surprisingly innocent about some things.  When he was reading and came across the word "bitch" he would say it without pausing because to him that was a female dog and nothing else.  I remember having to teach him what it meant when someone flipped you off.  So he is certainly not going to let loose with the F-bomb in the middle of a store.  Thank you, Lord!

With Alan, he probably would use curse words if he heard them.  He parrots the most surprising things.  But even before we knew about their diagnoses, DH and I have worked very hard to not say curse words in front of the boyz.  Since DH works in an industrial environment, his "work language" is very different from his home language.  And while I might have cussed way more than was appropriate in college, I don't really use that kind of language anymore so the boyz just don't hear a lot of curse words.

I remember a co-worker of mine that had a baby about the same time as I had Joe.  We got together once when the boys were about 2 and he was (very proudly) telling a story about how his toddler had said "F&%$" after slamming his finger in the toy box.  He proceeded to tell me that his wife "who was a linguistics expert" thought this was great because he was using the word appropriately.  I'm sorry, but I don't think it is EVER appropriate for a toddler to say that word -- even if he HAD just slammed his finger in the toy box.

But back to Alan.  He is considered mostly non-verbal but always gabbles up a blue streak.  When he is eating, when he is climbing, even when he is watching videos and certainly when he is in the bathtub there is a steady stream of sound coming out of his mouth.  Most of it is just vocalizations or stims, but every once in a while a word or two is clear.

When he was a toddler he started saying the word "tugboat" in what was very clearly an "I'm angry" occasion and we joked that we would start swearing tug-BOAT (because the emphasis was always on the second syllable) whenever we were angry.  At his one school he had different "names" he would call each of his teachers when he was upset.  One was usually the tugboat, one got "I'm mad at you" which sounded a lot more like "you a Jew" and the other one got a stream of syllables that sounded just like "you high, you high, you a ho" which provided a lot of fodder for teasing among the gals (who luckily were all very understanding folks!!)

Then came "tattoo".  I have never figured out what it was supposed to be, but all of a sudden he started saying the word tattoo.  The teachers (and when it happened a second time recently, the bus drivers) asked me if someone if the family got a tattoo.  Um, no, I have no idea what he is saying or why.

So last night after bath, the dreaded f-bomb seemed to come out of his mouth in the midst of the gibberish.  All I could think was please don't let this be like "tattoo" or "tugboat" which we heard often and clearly.  Not only do I not want to explain where it came from to all the relatives and strangers that he will probably offend, but it will most likely send Joe into cardiac arrest.


  1. Totally inappropriate but do you watch Big Bang Theory? On the repeat last night Amy explains the idiom defecate where you eat and how it doesn't mean THAT. Anyway that is all I could think of when I read about Joe.

    Abby once said "F". In a store. in front of an old lady. I have never left a store so fast

    1. lol Yes, I was thinking of Bridget screaming "hooker" as I wrote this.

      I don't watch BBT but I read that synopsis somewhere and I thought of my (not so little) literal thinker as soon as I heard it.

  2. Your Joe sounds alot like my William. Bless there hearts. We are so blessed with all our children. Even with the things they say sometimes! :)