Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cruella de Bud

Though Bud will be eight years old in a few short months, he has continued to be a fan of television made for preschoolers. While his peers are buzzing about Shrek and Spiderman, Bud's been content to focus his attention on the Teletubbies, Blues Clues, and Sesame Street. There has been a significant advantage to this: in the tv that Bud has always watched, there are no "bad guys" and the language the characters use is respectful and appropriate. As a result, because Bud still relies heavily on echolalia, his language - so often based on scripts from the shows he sees - has remained relatively innocuous and pleasant.

In recent weeks, though, Bud's been pushing the boundaries and taking a (tentative) walk on the wild side. He'd gotten a Disney book and cd set for Christmas, but had ignored it completely for months. Then suddenly - as he does - he pulled it out, dusted it off, gave it his full attention, and discovered the wonder that is 101 Dalmatians.

He's been reading along with the storybook as he listens to the cd. He's been listening to the cd in the dark each night as he falls asleep. And, much to my surprise, he has gone to the shelf that holds a wholly ignored and overlooked Disney video collection and pulled down the 101 Dalmatians DVD. For a while, he simply carried it around and looked at it. And then he watched it. Twice.

It has opened a whole new, thrillingly subversive door for Bud. I wondered what Bud's take on this new on-screen interpersonal dynamic would be: would he get the good-vs-evil interplay? Would he understand why we are cheering on dalmatians Pongo and Perdita and disdaining the evil Cruella de Vil and her thugs-for-hire, Horace and Jasper? But I needn't have worried. Bud understands it perfectly. He knows who the good guys are; he knows who the bad guys are. But for the first time in his life, he seems intrigued by - drawn to - not frightened of - the bad guys. So, suddenly, Bud's speech has become peppered with Cruella-speak:

"Why, you imbecile!" he'll shout at me. Or,

"You fools!" And, worse,

"Ah, shut up!"

Bud and I have started talking about time, place, and circumstance for words like that. We've talked about what makes Cruella a "bad guy" and why she uses words like that. He gets it.

"Mean words make people sad," I've explained. "We don't say mean words to people."

"Just to toys," Bud has offered.

And so I hear him as he plays with his characters, muttering under his breath as he makes Bert scold Ernie: "You IMBECILE!"

I recognize it as another double-edged developmental step forward. Bud's discovering another layer of the human condition. He's recognizing it within himself. And, truth be told, he's grooving on it.

He's channeling his inner Cruella. As for me - I'm just taking a deep breath and preparing myself as best I can for the tween years.


Bea said...

They're powerful, those words. I can see why he'd like to experiment with a word like "IMBECILE" - it's such a discovery, really, the use of words as weapons (words that, when used rightly, can be instruments of self-defence, not merely aggression).

MOM-NOS said...

Yes, Bubandpie, exactly. And it's not just the words - he is loving the power in the inflection: "You IM-becile!" I can almost hear how good it feels to say.

Mom without a manual said...

Yes, such a double edged sword. I understand Bud's excitement AND mom's concerns all too well!

I have no doubt however that your talking about these words will curtail the problems. You are always on top of these things!

Unknown said...

My five year old son enjoys enunciating at high decibels "Get! Out!" as said by Doc Hudson in the movie Cars. It's mostly directed towards his younger brother.

I can't say it's unwarranted and I'm excited that he's finding ways to communicate his displeasure. But I'm trying to encourage kinder communication. At which point I get: "Get! Out! Please!"

kristen spina said...

Oh, I wish you could write me a script for how to handle this. We have also stayed safely in the realm of preschool tv, but little by little he's branching out.

He's still scared of Scooby Doo and all the assorted superheros, but every now and again, I hear bits of dialogue that makes me shudder to think of those tween years to come.

Drama Mama said...

That is interesting. My daughter, M., who is also 8, approaches things the same way - the seed is planted, then months later, she suddenly decides to dive in.
She has been reading since 3, but insisted only on reading picture books. She would insist that she "couldn't possibly" read a novel, though she'd occasionally slip and read the NY Times.
As Bud did with his video, she decided to pick up Lemony Snicket, took to her room, and read it with gusto- out loud - in her room. She savored the words, and punctuated the sentences with inflection and expression worthy of a seasoned actor.
I worried for a moment, but just as her echolalia mitigated a few years ago, and as we have also seen Bud LEARN in this way, I feel reassured that she is using this as a processing tool and practice for social interaction.
I love knowing that Bud loves words as M. does. It's a wonderful passion. And what a character is Cruella!

Daisy said...

Yes, the tween years were a challenge. Echolalia of words we don't use in our home, occasional innappropriate language with a teacher. We still make it clear to him that some language (and some humor) is acceptable socially, but not at school.

Suzanne said...

Love this and totally relate to opening "a whole new, thrillingly subversive door for Bud". My 9 year old is much like this. My favorite example is him telling me "STOP SINGING!!!" . It was months before I knew it came from Shrek.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes! A whole new door is opening for Bud. How exciting! For TJ, it's "that Lucille", and "meanie Jim", and "dumb brother Ollie" from the Junie B. Jones books. We have frequent conversations about why Junie B. says the word "stupid", even though it is is not a nice word to say.

The other day TJ scolded Grandpa for telling the clerk he would like to purchase the dam postcard (meaning the dam and river), but TJ thought he was using the other meaning of the word. He knows what is appropriate and what is not, but is so interested in understanding why someone would use those words, the intentions and emotions behind it, and how it makes people feel when said.

This stuff can be such great learning tools!

GClef1970 said...

I laughed through this whole post because Conor is just like this! He suddenly discovers something that he has had for months, years. He also re-discovers DVDs constantly. We are currently on a Sneetches and Oswald kick...overandoverandover.

We have also been happy with the viewing choices because of possible scripting opportunities. But, he has now discovered, "NOW!" from Finding Nemo and has learned "Shut up" from somewhere. Such powerful words to learn and discover. All a part of growing, I guess? Sigh.

gretchen said...

If Bud continues to have an interest in Disney, our sons will truly be peas in a pod!

You little termite!

kristina said...

She is a theatorical one!

Maybe it's time for the Replacements' version of Cruella de Vil.....

Angel The Alien said...

It sounds like you are using "101 Dalmations" in a really educational way! Imbecile is kind of a funny word... my nephew says it alot too!

J said...

So...does that make Bert the "bad guy"? Hee:)

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

OH!! May I laugh? Please?

My Gianna says, with a serious face, "We don't say SHUT UP. We say "Be Quiet." Then again, she's the kid who at three said to me, "Where's my fukky blanket?" having heard her Dad or me utter the same phrase spelled differently at 3:00am when she'd lose her blankie under her bed or deep in the sheets.

She doesn't do any of what Sue Senator calls "Silly talk" or my other friends call "TV talk."

Boy, you have a LOT of movies to avoid down the road. And forget Rugrats too - those kids are RUDE!


Anonymous said...

It's so funny. We ask for our kids to be age-appropriate and then realize we should be careful what we wish for. My son's latest TV quote is something I can't quite make out followed by "....I'll kill you". I am appalled by it, but smile inside as I reprimand him. Watch out for Spongebob too!

Anonymous said...

Oh....I forgot to ask....Did you catch Paul and Ringo on Larry King tonight? Awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

This is one of the hardest parts of parenting for me. As I watch palpable pieces of my neurotypical son's innocence slip away as a natural part of his development, it is my tendency to mourn and slip into depression rather than focus on the obvious trade-off you have pointed to here: potential that is used to step up his positive emotional and physical abilities. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

My name is Maria Counts and I work for a publishing company that focuses on books about autism/asperger syndrome. We are currently working on a children's book entitled "Autistic Planet."
If you would be interested in contacting me via e-mail I will send you a press release and if you would like a gratis copy for review as well.
Thank you,

Maria Counts
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.

John Robison said...

When I read stories like yours, I see myself as a little boy, and I so wish I could tell you what it was that drew me from that inward-looking place into the world of other people.

In my book, I tried to set that out, but it's almost fifty years ago, and it's so hard.

Anyway, I hope stories like mine at least provide parents like you with some inspiration. When I was little, we got sent to the State School if we didn't work out at public school. Luckily for you and your family, the world today is a different place.

Niksmom said...

Wow, I cannot even begin to imagine what that must have been like for you in the moment! LOL Sounds like Bud is making some big language/communication/cognition leaps lately. How wonderful. :-)

Anonymous said...

My younger (PDD) son used to employ lots of echolalia. But my most vivid memory of a violent "echo" is from his neurotypical 4-yr-old brother, who once threatened, "I'll lay you open from tail to chin!" Gotta watch out for those knight books...

Dadof6Autistickids said...

Our 3 and 5 yr olds aren't even close to being talkers yet. But, 'Mom' tells of their discovery of the intended use for spoons in her debut blog posting on our blog.

New discoveries sure do bring a smile usually just when we need one.

kristi said...

TC wanted to watch BARNEY the other day...shudder!

Anonymous said...

My advanced birthday wishes to Bud, it's very good to know that he started to like movies and learning things himself thats great, hugs to Bud.

Anonymous said...

My youngest loves such powerful words. I can hear Bud now speaking his powerful "IM-becile".

Anonymous said...

oh my! dave introduced fluffy to the comic Peanuts. they read it together and watch the videos from the library and well, you guessed it, fluffy's connected with his inner lucy van pelt, yelling YOU BLOCKHEAD every five seconds, though not just to his toys. ahem.

oh the tween years.