Close Up.

Springtime means three things around here:  fresh air, flying disks, and baseball.  No not that kind of fresh air.  The Air Wick kind of fresh air.  Let me explain.  Last spring, someone in our house was very interested in an Air Wick commercial.  The commercial starred a female elephant with an English accent talking about how she does not have time to keep her house fresh and clean.  She explains how the new Air Wick Freshmatic does it for her by spraying a spurt of air freshener every 9, 18 or 36 minutes.  (Trust me, I know the time frame).  Here’s a similar one:

Not only did I have to watch this commercial over a thousand times last year, but my son recited it, laughed at it and threw complete fits if I did not take him down the detergent and air freshener aisle at the grocery so he could “visit” the Air Wick, Lysol and other assorted fresheners.  And before ABA intervened and taught me a thing or two, I bought him one.   We were very “fresh and clean” until the freshener ran out.  Very.

(I should be paid for this)

It wasn’t the scents that he was interested in.  No, no.  In fact, he is hypo-sensitive about odors.  He gives no facial expression or any indication he can smell anything out of the ordinary whenever there is a strong odor.  No, the Air Wick is all about the button and the spray.  The freshmatic has a button and a tiny hole from which the spray is dispensed.  He who controls the button controls the spray.  Oh how my son covets the button and watching the spray come out!  The Air Wick Freshmatic is 100 times cooler than most of his toys.

Along with all this fresh air, at this time of year, everywhere we turn there is baseball.  Last year, for his birthday, the little guy received a Fisher Price ESPN Better Batter Baseball pitching machine.  He was in love with this thing.  Of course there was a button involved.  A large red button on the base.  Once pushed, it would load the sleeve of balls to a velcro’ed black hanging tee for hitting.  Oh, the squeals of delight for this thing.  You’d think he was ready for the major leagues.  No, it was all about the button.  Examining the parts as they moved.

Better Batter Baseball - used as intended... just not at my house.

And when he was not playing baseball, he was playing with this thing:

The Zoom-O Flying Disc Catcher

It’s called a Zoom-O disc launcher.  You press the trigger and it spins a small disc very fast.  When you let go of the trigger, it flies through the air.  You are supposed to catch it in the catcher.  At our house, if it makes it past the kid’s face, it flies through the air and onto the ground somewhere behind beds, in corners, on ledges or in toy chests where we have to go on a treasure hunt to find it.

What do all three of these things have in common?  My son loves to examine their functions.  Close up.  Very close. This has resulted in him spraying himself in the face with Air Wick, hitting himself in the cheek with the hanging tee and smacking a small orange disc in his face.  Not just once.  Repeatedly. No learned danger.  No fear of it happening again.  Just repeated injury.  If he begs enough for the Air Wick, we put sunglasses on him while he “plays” with it.  (He doesn’t fall for the ploy of taking the actual air freshener out – he whines and crys until it is put back in).

When a fun day of these spring activities ends, and I go to take out my contact lenses for the night, I usually tell my son that I’m leaving the room to “take my eyes out.”  It’s a hint that it’s time for bed.  I have said it every night since he was a baby.  He watches me sometimes when I remove my contacts, sees it does not hurt and is a simple task.

In the middle of “taking my eyes out” the other night, I finally came to realize why my husband’s warning to our son about keeping his face away from all these objects might not be working.  He’s been saying, “Keep it away from your face!  Aim it away from your face!  You could take your eye out!”

Oh, the lack of communication.  If my son had it in his vocabulary, I’m pretty sure, given his experience, he would say, “Mommy does it every night.  So what?”

There is something opposite of literal about all that…I guess we’ll have to warn him a different way.


About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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15 Responses to Close Up.

  1. LOL. You gotta love those little verbal backfires!

    Long before the Little Miss came along, we adopted a cat and named it Waffle. I still get confusion when I ask her if she wants waffles for breakfast. If only we knew then what we know now!

  2. Jack says:

    Or mine… A new girl in my class in early primary school’s last name was Cousin or at least sounded like it. I thought mother meant literally. Oh my was I so embarrassed two years down the track when I finally worked it out for myself.

    Pretty sure they tried to tell me before then. Just didn’t click what they meant.

    • solodialogue says:

      When I was little, I lived in the Pacific Northwest near the border with Idaho. It took me years to figure out that Moscow, Idaho was next door and that we did not live on the Russian border. You reminded me that we can all have verbal misunderstanding and confusion. Pretty funny when you look back on it! 🙂 Thanks for stopping in and commenting Jack!

  3. Tam says:

    What did the ABA intervention have to do with the air wick?

    Perhaps “You could go blind” would work as the alternate phrase.

    • solodialogue says:

      ABA has taught me that I should ignore the things on which my son is perseverating so he can get past them. Much of it is to garner attention, good or bad. By buying him the Air Wick I was feeding attention on him and the perseveration.

      I’m thinking I will just tell him he could get hurt. If I said blind, I think I might open up another can of worms – oops! I must cut it out with these figures of speech!! Lol!

      • Tam says:

        hrm… I’m not sure I like the ABA approach then. I can see steering kids away from things that are harmful, and I can see that obsession is never a good thing, and perhaps they might have been right in this instance (for the sake of your nose if nothing else).

        But strong interest in one subject to the exclusion of others is exactly what leads some people to become nobel-prize-winning neurologists or olympic level athletes. Steering a kid away from something just because he’s “too interested” in it, or he might get attention because of it, regardless of what “it” is just seems ridiculous.

        Just because an asd kid might be interested in something like an air freshener instead of a barbie doll doesn’t mean they should be punished for that interest… and how many neurotypical girls spend hours upon hours playing with barbie dolls, and want to collect everything Barbie they can?

        I hadn’t really understood why some people take issue with ABA, I just understood it as a methodical approach to steer kids away from the ‘bad’ (like self-injurious behavior) and towards the good… But if it’s used this way with every interest that can be construed as ‘perseverating’ – then I have a real problem with it myself.

      • solodialogue says:

        Tam, I appreciate your perspective and your comments from that perspective. Let me explain mine. Somehow you’ve taken something unhealthy and turned it into “steering a kid away from something because he’s ‘too interested'”. That is not what was happening. Perseveration is not playing something appropriately to excess – like Barbies where there is appropriate play. He does not use Air Wick as an air freshener, or as a science project. His interest, while happy, was illogical, not grounded in reality. Unless you are there living it with me, or are raising a child like mine, it is a difficult concept to grasp.

        My son continued to talk about, think about and insert discussion of “Air Wick” in every circumstance. Everything became Air Wick related even though there was no way to construe it as logical in any sense. It’s not like he was taking it apart and understanding how it worked or wanted to learn anything from his interest. He simply wanted to sit in front of it, push the button in his face and laugh. Nothing more. If you tried to take it apart, show him how it worked, or foster some type of reality based play with it, he would be angry because you were messing with his perseveration. I really don’t know where you get the idea he was being punished for something. He was not.

        ABA grounds him. ABA brings him back to reality where he can socialize appropriate with others. ABA fosters a healthy interest, even an intense one – if it is appropriate. Inappropriate is kind of the whole meaning behind the word “perseveration”- a perversion. The idea, always, is to get him grounded in reality. Yet, as his mom, I always want to see him “happy.” The Air Wick made him happy so I bought it before I understood how I was enabling something unhealthy. In actuality, it was like, for lack of a better analogy, fostering a drug addiction. It’s part of his neurological disorder. Can you see that now?

      • Tam says:

        I think I probably came across harsh again, I was thinking about the method itself as a general rule, I was probably making unwarranted assumptions too, sorry.

        You’re right about the blind thing too, probably way too scary.

  4. The Air-wick thing made me laugh. It’s so funny what commercials kids get hung up on. 🙂

  5. Oh, that sounds so much like my son!

    I’m convinced the Poison Control Center knows my voice when I call, but they resist the urge to say, “What is it this time?” From watching diaper rash cream squirt out of the tube (and in turn tasting it) to spraying Fantastik cleaner into his face (just like the Air Wick, only VERY SCARY–turns out the stuff is mostly non-toxic, but my near heart attack was not!), they’ve heard just about everything from me!

    • solodialogue says:

      It’s funny the things they choose to focus on. If my son had the opportunity, trust me, he’d be spraying that Fantastik straight in his face as well!

  6. eof737 says:

    I had a good laugh over this post… I was not aware of the talking elephant. But it is amazing how children pick things that interest them and then fixate for a long while. At least, it has become a great blog post… Are you planning to replace the air wick? 🙂

  7. Pingback: Personality. | Solodialogue

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