The Spider-Finger Incident

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Amazing that something so small could cause so much trouble. Our family attended a Fall Festival at the boys’ school last weekend and there was fun and games and PRIZES. My youngest son earned this small plastic spider ring and proceeded to jam it on his finger… this very small, non-adjustable ring, on the fattest of his fingers. The next discovery was that he couldn’t get said ring OFF of his finger! He walked up to me with huge, pitiful eyes that were starting to well up with tears, bottom lip quivering, and showed me the offending spider-finger.

After some unsuccessful attempts at removal the tears were flowing down his sweet little cheeks. I enlisted the aid of two dad friends of mine and borrowed some keys to try to pry the ring off or break the plastic. Unfortunately I didn’t think that through and the leverage caused the key to dig into his poor little finger. My son started sobbing. Then one of the dads tried to simply muscle the ring off of his finger, thinking that if he just yanked quickly and hard enough it will pop right off. Instead the plastic dug into his skin and my son started crying even harder and shrieked at my friend, “OWWW! What are you doing?!?” His tone implied that what he really wanted to say was, “What are you thinking YOU CRAZY OLD MAN!?! You’re yanking off my finger!” While trying not to laugh I thanked my friend for his help and apologized that my son yelled at him. Luckily he “gets it” and wasn’t offended. Later I reminded my son about respectful behavior, but at that moment we had more pressing matters to tend to~ like the fact that my son’s finger was turning the color of the purple spider ring.

The situation was getting tense, and my son was growing increasingly anxious. I was trying to calm him down while also attempting to figure out a solution. He wailed, “It’s going to be on there forever!” And he was totally being serious. My 8-year-old totally thought he was doomed to having a spider-finger for the rest of his life. That’s Autism. He didn’t even think about what might happen before he forced that tiny little thing on his finger, and then was horrified at the result. Not boring. In fact, the “not boring” factor is the reason that this is only the second year we have even attempted going to this event. In the past it was too hard. Believe it or not, this year went better than last year. If the spider-ring incident is the worst thing that happened we are doing pretty good!

By the way, I finally found help from someone who had access to the teachers lounge. We cut the ring off with scissors. Simple as that, and a lifetime of arachnid enslavement was averted. And circulation was restored, that is also pretty important. Crisis solved. No more spider-finger.

“It’s Nice to See You, Sophie!”

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After waiting for weeks we finally had a day with good weather, open schedule, and healthy family members, so the four of us were able to head back to the Zoo this past weekend. Our last trip there had surprising results when a video of my youngest son playing with a sea lion  caught the attention of the media. It also turned into an unexpected opportunity to spread Autism Awareness (you can read about our experience here). My children had been anxious to go back and visit Sophie one more time before the heat of summer, and they still wanted to get a good look at Bao Bao before she got much bigger.

My son, Alex, has been talking about Sophie for weeks and he couldn’t wait to go back and play with her. I wanted to prepare him for the fact that she might not “recognize” him (aka: she may not want to play with visitors that day). Alex has a form of Autism, and it is very important to help him be mentally prepared as much as possible for experiences, both good and bad. We talked about the fact that even if Sophie didn’t want to play it would still be a nice day at the zoo and we would enjoy seeing the animals. Secretly I prayed that he wouldn’t be disappointed, and had an ace up my sleeve. Actually, it wasn’t an ace, it was a shiny pink ball.

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