Thursday, May 26, 2011

The weirdest prep for Florida ever!

The other night when we were talking about our whole  year away vacation, K said to me that  I had to "do something" about the way Chet takes pictures.  Taking pictures is hard for him.  What he perceives as a smile is typically somewhat grimace like.  Part of this has to do with the way people with autism do or do not "read" faces.  Part of it goes to his perserveration that he has fangs instead of teeth.  Don't ask about that folks, just accept it for one of the oddities that is my life with autism.  For me a picture is a trigger to a memory and if the memory is good, well the picture is by default, good as well.

At first I was somewhat annoyed.  I have a pretty hard and fast rule that something has to really bug me for me to work on it. Because there are things I am always working on.  Issues of personal space, issues of appropriate language, and eye contact are daily "lessons".  But there are a bunch of oddities of life on the autism spectrum that I have decided are not worth arguing about.  Like the fact that he feels he has to eat with a soup spoon.  I tried for YEARS to get him to use regular sized silverware.  Practically gave myself an ulcer. Needless to say, I had no success.  And I gave up when he turned 18.  Also I don't want him to feel that I am correction everything he does or is.  There is also a need to accept people where they are when it is possible to do so.  And  OK, small things thrill me.  So small successes, like holding a door open for someone at church--I'll be happy all day over it.

But I also realize that I have to acknowledge that which bugs my wife.  (though why it is my job to fix it is beyond me.)  But I will give it the old college try.  I thought about a strategy and explained Project Picture tonight to Chet.  I will take a picture of him every night.  Every. Single. Night. Between now and Florida.  We will look at them together and talk about what makes it a good picture.  That one can look happy without the fang thing. That one doesn't need to show the fangs.  That a smile isn't all about teeth.  

Now I have no illusions that even a year of "practice" is going to fix this problem.  Even if I get a bunch of "good" shots, the stressor of new environment, changes in routine and being with extended family as well as our regular family are pretty much guaranteed to tip him and that usually shows with rigid body posture and grimacing.  But like I said, we are trying.  Chet is trying to look natural.  Me?  I'm trying to focus my camera!  It's a point and shoot people.  Sheesh, you'd think I would have done better than this!