Sitting in my office, my son looks around and then says to me, “Nice place you got here,” and puts his feet up on my desk.  He is engaged in echolalia.  That was a line from “Chocolate With Nuts”,  his favorite Spongebob episode.  He’s learned to use that line to do a little joke.  He uses it in an appropriate manner, and it comes out funny.

“Do we not use our fingers to pick our nose?”

He asked me this from the back seat of the car as I was driving us home.  Once I stopped laughing, I said, “If you don’t use your finger, you are not picking your nose,”  When I said it, it just seemed wrong.

He then corrected me, “Do we use a tissue to pick our nose?”

“Yes!”  I answered.  [Oh, so that’s what I was supposed to say! Sorry, Miss Manners!]  He laughs.  Was he amused by my lack of knowledge?  It was me that was socially awkward in that exchange…

These little exchanges occur daily.

(Sigh) Not my hubs…

My husband was born in Bolivia.  He was raised from the age of five in the United States.  I would love to say he’s sort of an Antonio Banderas, fluent in both English and Spanish, but truthfully, he has been compared to Mickey Rourke and is fluent in neither language…. but I digress.

My husband and his brother often use the Spanish word “chieste” when they are talking about someone telling a funny story or a joke.  Little Tootles has a bit of the “chieste” in his blood.   I’ve noticed it coming out more and more as he gets older, mostly with me.  Of course, with a twist of autism.

Here is the daily “chieste”.  There isn’t much variation, because, well, you know, routine, consistency, etc….

My son is potty-trained, to a degree.  I’m still the clean-up crew.  He still refuses to “go” unless I’m within five to ten feet of him.  Notification comes through the yell, “TOILET!”  immediately followed by a running child, still yelling, “Mom?  Mom?  Hello, Mommy?  Mommy to come!”

The boy goes in.  Now, he “holds” it.  He does not let loose and go to town, so to speak.  Sometimes, I have to talk him through it.  Other times, I swear, it’s like he’s giving birth.  He will yell out, “Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison…(etc.)” because, well, it’s overwhelming to him, you know?  And who doesn’t recite the presidents while have a particularly excruciating experience?  Wait- that’s not common? So, I try not to laugh.  Then, he laughs, and I join in.

Next, comes his chieste.  He will wait a few seconds and say, “Done!”  quickly and quietly, which is his call for the clean-up crew.  But, you see, the thing is that often, he is “unfinished”.  So, if the clean-up crew goes in too early, “they”  have to work overtime.  Let’s just say, the clean-up crew does not like overtime.

So, often, I will ask, “Are you sure?” I get the rapid and soft, “Yes!” and then he will look away (as though he could have a shred of embarrassment left with me, but, okay, yeah, I get it).  Once reassured, the clean-up crew goes to work, only to discover, the representation was untrue.  There is usually about a 40 percent chance it is, in fact, true.

Given the odds, the clean up crew, has resorted to trying to teach the difference between “truth” and a “lie”.  So, now the question is, “Truth or a lie?” said in a sing-song manner.  Turns out the little “chieste” boy thinks this is a “hysterically funny” question.  He tilts his head, and out of the corner of his eye, YELLS back, through laughter, “TRUTH OR A LIE?!” He proceeds to laugh for a minute or two.  When I ask, “Well?”  He will answer in his again, quiet voice, “Lie!”  And thus, I (sigh) will remain a captive audience until released…

In other situations, he intentionally lies, in an effort to “chieste” me. He talks a big game but there’s no follow through (again – like his dad).  He will run up to me and say, “Wanna go to the car wash and get the purple light!”  He is deathly afraid of the car wash and a toy light shaped like the Joker, (the “purple light”).  He will, however, insist and persist in demanding these two things over and over.  If I ignore it, it intensifies.  If I agree to it, he backs down.  If I emphatically agree to it, he emphatically insists that there is NO WAY he meant what he said.

So, recently, he says the opposite of what he means, and checks my facial expression.  Yes, he is reading my face and is not literal.  If I look suspiciously at him, hands on hips,  he says he is “cheese-caking” me.  He must’ve listened to his dad and Uncle talking about “chieste”, picked up on the meaning and turned it into “cheesecake” (with which he is intimately familiar).

It’s like this:  “Mommy, I want to eat peas and carrots and go to bed!”  As soon as I make eye-contact with him, he breaks into his standard dimple-filled smile, and yells, “CHEESECAKE!”  followed by falling down, drunk laughter.  I laugh.  And so it goes…

Yes, my son makes eye-contact, is not literal, reads my non-verbal social cues for a response, and “cheese-cakes”.  Take that stereotypes.  Sometimes, autism isn’t what you’d expect.


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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28 Responses to Chieste!

  1. Mom2MissK says:

    Haha! I love his interpretation of the word “chieste!” Of course, the main problem would be that I would constantly be on the search for the promised cheesecake… mmmmmm…… cheesecake *drools*

  2. C... says:

    My son makes eye contact with me and anyone he is close to. It’s the new people in his life that he avoids close contact and eye contact with and won’t take direction from well.

    • solodialogue says:

      I was thinking about that. I should’ve been more clear. He does it mostly with me, but the same goes for anyone he knows pretty well- not classmates but all the adults in his life will get the “cheesecake” now and then.

  3. kcunning says:

    As Jake’s gotten older, he’s certainly gotten funnier. His sense of timing (and lack of inhibition) has lead to some truly epic burns.

  4. Lisa says:

    Tate and T would be quite a duo. Tate has been doing many of the same things….eye-contact, truth vs. Lie, and the humor…oh, the humor. I have to laugh…it is great to have the banter and interaction with him, even if some of it is his “shtick”.

    PS. Love his “cheesecake”. What a little ham….

  5. Lizbeth says:

    I love it. Alex would go up to people and push their buttons. Literally. Would walk up to them, find a button on their clothes and start pushing. I much prefer what T is doing!!!

  6. Flannery says:

    Love the humor! But now I’m craving cheesecake. I blame Tootles.

  7. utkallie says:

    What a treat to read this today. I think humor with a twist of Autism is the best!

  8. What a great sense of humor! I would love to have T “cheesecake” me!

  9. I love his jokes, and your humor too. Maybe this is all Tootles way of working out the fear? SensiGirl is deathly afraid of Veggie Tales. The mere mention of those talking and singing vegetables will cause her to flee the room or on one occasion turn into a screaming noodle on the library floor. But once in a while I catch her looking at the Veggie Tale DVD’s we still have left over from her brother. Oh, by the way, those canned phrases used correctly and in context are a common path in our family for speech acquisition.

    • solodialogue says:

      I think you are right on this. There is a lot of fear confrontation going on and backing down. But with that is humor and laughter and that sometimes, is the best “medicine” to face the fear with, don’t you think?

  10. Broot says:

    Love it! 🙂

  11. I Love this! Autism so many times is not what you think. Just this morning my sons dentist told me that she knows about autism because she saw a show about it in India. Ahm … ok Doc. I bet you don’t know as much as you think you do.

    • solodialogue says:

      Thanks Deenie! I know! Autism is different for everyone but each person will show you a sense of humor an sometimes in doing so, defeat a stereotype at the same time!

  12. seventhvoice says:

    That’s so true…. Great Post…. Thank you so much for spreading the reality instead of the stereotyped lies = )

  13. Laughed outloud! Love the caption explaining that is not your husband! LOL! This was great. I really enjoy your blog. xoxoxo Sam

  14. TMBMT says:

    Hehe. I think that sarcasm can be a great tool in teaching, especially with autistic kids. Instead of having to learn the nuances of interaction you can play around with greatly exaggerated facial and verbal expressions. Once you get that down you can gradually start being more and more sneaky with it and that helps teach the nuance. He’s a bright boy, looks like he’s figured this out on his own. He may be combining “Chieste” with “being cheesy” to get the cheesecake 🙂

  15. eof737 says:

    Chieste! Love new words… Hope all is well.

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