Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Pain of Perseveration

“If at first you don’t succeed, perseverate.” – Aspie’s favorite quote

The amazing thing about Asperger Syndrome, is that to the untrained eye, the Aspergian may not initially appear to have any sort of syndrome at all. I often hear things strangers say. Things like:  “Oh, he looks normal.”  Or “he doesn’t look autistic to me.” My general thought is always “you don’t live with this kid.” Furthermore, what does Asperger Syndrome look like? It kind of looks like this-

First of all, he PERSEVERATES. Second, he can’t let go of a subject he is interested in. Third, he really digs in and perseverates on things that he obsesses about. Fourth, he goes on and on at length about his perseverations. Are you getting the idea? Do you want to beat your head into a wall yet?

His main interest right now, besides the opposite sex, is Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards and anime clubs. He trades, collects, arranges, shuffles, rearranges, displays, talks about, demonstrates, and duels with his cards. He carries them in an old milk crate that he pilfered. That’s another thing about Aspergians. What is theirs is theirs. What is yours is theirs. It’s all theirs if they like it. It is somewhat reminiscent of raising a toddler. A 16-year old toddler. I wonder if Ariel from the Little Mermaid had Asperger Syndrome?

He has the cards sorted into plastic sleeves in 3-ring binders and he uses his card decks to duel other boys with similar perseverating tendencies. Sometimes they duel in the library. Sometimes it is at the school-sponsored anime club. Sometimes it is in our living room. Sometimes, I think he duels himself, like some bizarre form of solitaire.

The issue is not so much the cards, or the dueling, or the anime clubs. It is the incessant talking about the cards and the dueling and the card clubs! Observe a typical conversation in our house:

Aspie: I got a blue-eyed dragon. It has 3 billion attack points.
Me: Yes, very cool.
A: Do you want to see my red-winged monstrous gnome?
M: No, son…I’m working on something.
A: It has even more attack points than all the other cards in my super deck.
M: Mmm…I see.
A: Can I go to Jim Bob’s and trade cards?
M: No, son…we will be doing chores soon and dinner.
A: Do you think I could do a fundraiser at the church for anime club?
M: No, son…you are not in anime club this year until your grades improve, remember?
A: Oh, yeah. Can I go to Jim Bob’s to trade cards?
M: No, son. What did I say?
A: You said we are doing chores soon and dinner, but I need to see if he has a white-tailed high-flying     drone.
M: You can’t go there today.
A: Can I have something to eat?
M: No, we’ll be having dinner soon and we are starting chores and you’ve already had a snack.
A: Ok. I’m going to call Jo Belle and ask her if I can use the church for the dinner.
M: What dinner?
A: The fundraiser for anime club.
M: YOU ARE NOT IN ANIME CLUB. You have to improve your grades first.
A: I have a D in math.
M: Exactly. You have to have at least a C.
A: Ok. Can I go to Jim Bob’s?
M: NO. YOU CANNOT GO TO JIM BOB’S. We are going to start chores soon and then have dinner!!
A: But I have to go because tomorrow is anime club at the library and if I don’t have a yellow-nosed ripple-backed sprite I won’t be able to duel John George.
M: You cannot go to Jim Bob’s right now.
A: Mom, you know what would be good for the treasure chest (for chore rewards)?
M: (through gritted teeth) What??
A: Super duper, premium, debt-inducing Yu-Gi-Oh card packs.
M: Son, you need to go find something to do. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I’m working on something.
A brief pause…
A: Mom?
A: Do you think we should serve spaghetti at the fundraiser for anime club?
M: BLEEP Son, you are driving me up a BLEEP wall! You are not BLEEP in BLEEP anime club because your BLEEP grades are not good. I know you heard me!! BLEEP Would you please BLEEP BLEEP go find something to do?! BLEEP…BLEEP…BLEEEEEEEEEP.
Brief silence…
A: Well…I have to have the fundraiser next week.
M: BLEEEEEP (closing my computer) BLEEEP (leaving the room) BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP
A: Mom?
M: (Shutting bedroom door, still mumbling) BLEEEEP, I need chocolate.    

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