"All that is gold does not glitter. Not all those who wander are lost."

"It is with the utmost affection for my own children and autistic children everywhere that I share these stories."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the Spectrum #65: Merry Christmas, 2009!

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One of the biggest differences in my and DW's skill sets is that I speak 'Michael' and she speaks 'Jacob.' 'Michael' is pretty easy, actually, but I'm still better at deciphering what he means when he doesn't quite know how to say it. 'Jacob,' on the other hand, is a language that is made very complex by the fact that many of its words sound very similar to other words in English that have very different meanings. LOL. Anyway, in this kind of situation, I can usually figure Michael out, but I have a much harder time with Jacob. (DW... the exact opposite.)

(Oh yeah - and I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but when Jacob says "Yes," he ALWAYS adds on, "OK."  It's like one word, "Yesohkay!"  That thows a lot of people who assume he's saying "That's OK," which, if you think about it in context, means "No," when he's really saying "Yes."  You can imagine how frustrating that might be for him! LOL

ANYWAY... This is the last "OTS" update of 2009! So I'm done for this year. We'll be travelling, as we usually do on the holidays, through the 4th of January, so the next update won't be until 1/10/2010.
In the meantime, I hope everybody has a Merry Crispy, a safe a happy holiday and a safe and happy New Year!

See you in 2010!

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the Spectrum #64: "C" is for "cookie"

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Why on earth do they from not saying anything at all, to repeating everything that they're not supposed to?

Oh well.

BTW, this is just the second appearance of "Wendy," Michael's teacher.  She last appeared waaay back in #12.

Monday, December 7, 2009

On the Spectrum #63: Inspiration can come from anywhere...

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We're back! Sorry it's been so long since I've updated! We had a great Thankgiving, but were out of town, and then once we were back one thing after another kept me from getting this one finihsed!

Two things about this one...

First - whenever I have a project around the house or outside, Michael is a GREAT helper. He follows directions, knows what tool is what, etc... He's really great at being that "third hand" that we all sometimes need. Much better than *ahem* DW, who has the uncanny, superhuman-ability to teleport herself roughly six miles away, just 0.3 seconds before I need her help. LOL. And since Michael's usually interested in what I'm doing anyway, he's ALWAYS around. (So I put him to work!) LOL

Which leads me to the Second thing - Usually, after doing something this, he will go and re-create it in some artistic media. Sometimes drawing, sometime clay or play-doh, sometime (as shown here) in Legoes. He does this with movies too - if he sees a scene he really likes, he'll go a recreate it with whatever he has handy. Quite imaginitive, and always a good opportunity to get him to tell us what he's doing... since most of the time we have no idea, at least at first! He made Comerica Park (where the Detroit Tigers play) out of Legoes one time. I must say, that was really cool.

Very creative. And you just never know what will strike him as inspiration! (He's as likely to make a Sump Pump or a Vacuum Cleaner as he is a Stadium or a Castle.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On the Spectrum #62: Driving Miss Nutsy

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Sorry this update was a couple days late.  I should mention now that there will not be an update next week (11/22) since we'll be travelling that whole week.  (Regular updates will resume on 11/29, possibly a day of two late on that one as well, sorry!)

A couple things...  First, I swear that was exactly what he said.  I was floored.  (Of course, I guess it goes to show how often I say, "JACOB, YOU'RE DRIVING ME NUTS!"


Also, not to blow my own horn, but I think that's the best picture of Jacob I've drawn yet.  I haven't had him in here that much, so I don't get much practice and when I do I'm never quite satistified with how he comes out, but I think I really nailed him here.  Also, "angry-face" Daddy is new too.  Michael thinks it's hysterical...  Probably cause he's "angry" at Jacob! LOL

Well, since I won't be posting again until after the Holiday, I home everyone has a happy Thanksgiving, and safe travels for anyone who will be on the road ro in the air.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

On the Spectrum #60: The loneliest profession

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Does ANYONE like going to the dentist?

(And technically it's his Great Uncle Dennis (well, Great Step-Uncle, actually) but whatever. LOL.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On the Spectrum #59: Use the fork, Luke!

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And yes, he eats Hot Dogs and Pizza with a fork.  Spaghetti... not so much.

And I just realized that I'll have to update Michael's wardrobe in it, if I plan to keep recycling this picture of him! LOL.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On the Spectrum #58: Physical Graffiti, disc 2

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If anyone esle has problems with the writing on the walls, I highly recommend a white-board.  There are other products out there (slate-paint, for example?) but this is a lot easier to do and a bit less dratic.  Of course... the first few times, before they really understand that you have to stay ON THE BOARD, you might get something like this...

But what the hay?  Dry-erase marker comes off a lot easier than crayon anyway! :)

And yes, this is more of Michael's actual work; from a while ago, and on paper though, not on the wall! LOL. BTW I'll need to show it in more detail some time, but the above picture is a surprisingly accurate and detailed map of our neighborhood.  I was rather a bit surprised when he me told what everything was.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On the Spectrum #57: Physical Graffiti

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Today we participated in the Southeast Michigan Autism walk for Autism Speaks.  We had a good time, but it was very cold, very windy.

We did have a little bit of a "drawing on the walls" problem a while back.  Some of the walls that were merely cleaned and not repainted still bear some witness to that. LOL

The drawing shown here is a scaled down copy of one of Michael's.  It's the Viginia Tech Hokie Bird, and I used it once before, waaaaaay back in #12.  Here what the original looks like:

This was from about a year ago, just before #12 was originally put up.

Funny thing... When I got done drawing the scene, but before lettering it, I called Micahel over over and asked him to look at it.  I pointed to him and said, "Who's this?" And he said it was, "Michael." And then to 'Dad' and he's said, "That's Daddy."  Then I pointed to the Hokie Bird and said, "And what heppened here?" And he got this HUGE grin, started laughing hysterically and said, "He was drawing on the walls!"  He really got a kick out of it, probably becasue he knows now that you're not supposed to do that! :)

A little more on 'drawing of the walls' next time too... :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

On the Spectrum #56 - Decisions, decision...

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This is really more of a social story intended for Michael, who's probably OTS's biggest fan.

Last week he broke his arm for the second time in about six months.  He fell off the monkey bars at school, came down and broke his left radius right below the elbow.

In May, he broke his right radius, also just below the elbow.  In that case we don't really know what happened.  DW was in the next room, heard a crash, and found him crying and cradling his arm.  We THINK what happened was that he was using this huge Fire Truck they have (pictured above) as a step-stool and, having wheels, it shot out from under him.  The crash was more likely the Truck crashing into the wall on the other side of the room (which is why we didn't notice it right away) than him hitting the floor, but we don't really know.  So he's in a cast...  Again.  So this one's really for him, a sort "BE CAREFUL" type of pseudo-social story.  ("Make good choices" is the particular maxim that they use at school and at speech and he does sometime say it to himself when he's working through a plan or thinking about a decision.)

Oh yeah... I mentioned that he's probably the strip's biggest fan.  He absolutely realizes that it's all (or at least mostly) about him, and he dig's that.  He actually quote's it sometimes - last night he was stading in front of the TV (so we couldn't see) laughing and saying, "I want the no I can't see!" Which isn't even how he talks anymore, but he remembers it from the comic.  (It was #40, if you're curious.)  But I mention this because by now he's seen it so many times, and seen me drawing it, that he's started doing some stories of his own!  He drew the follwing piece about a week or two ago.  It's content is a bit ironic considering what would happen to him shortly thereafter.  Here you go:

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Obviously I added the text afterwards, but it's all per his own description of what's going on. I thought it was pretty cool, that he could make up the story on his own and all. 

On last thing... Michael's wardrobe update.  You see... it's really been a while since Michael's dressed the way I've been drawing him.  The short-sleeve polo shirt buttoned all the way up was his thing up until sometime last school year.  Now ALL he wants to wear is black track pants (usually with white stripes) and two-tone-tees; You know: the kind that look like you've got a red tee on over a black long-sleeved shirt?  Anyway, I figured it was time to update him, so I'm probably going to start drawing him like this from now on.  We'll see.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

On the Spectrum #55 - Another Brick...

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No profound symbolism was intended here, just some humorous scripting from Michael.  BTW, if you're old enough / young enough to get the joke here, let's keep it a secret from the whippersnappers / old fogies that don't get it, K? LOL.

If you're between the ages of 35 and 55 snd STILL don't get it, there's a clue that's about as subtle as a sledge hammer in the background behind Michael. ;)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On the Spectrum #54 - Backseat Driver

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This was very hard to draw. And the funny thing is that I decided to do this one because I thought the one I'd originally wanted to do tonight would be hard to draw! LOL.

I'm not sure how many of you see this sort of thing...  Every time we go by, for example, the Car Wash, Michael tells us "No Car Wash!"  Now, we haven't been into a car wash with him in like six years.  And there's one around the corner from our house.  So we drive by it 3-5 times a week at least.  So we've literally driven past it about a THOUSAND TIMES, never ONCE been IN IT (with him anyway) and he still feels the need to tell us!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

On the Spectrum #53 - Twenty Questions

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He loves to volunteer his little brother for all the lousy chores, take the blame for something, etc... What older brother doesn't, huh? LOL. 

BTW, this game work just as well with multple "Yes" questions (Do you [good thing]? Do you [another good thing]? Do you [another good thing]?) Followed by a "No" question (Do you want to clean your room?) A good way to find out if they're really listening (and understanding) or not. 

You gotta love the, "Ye... NO!" asnwer. : )  Sometimes he misses it, but usually these days he's listening pretty closely and I can't slip one past him, even if I go really fast. Clever boy. : )

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On the Spectrum #50 - Time for bed, part 2

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Sometimes "quiet in the room" works out better than others...

So I've made it to 50 issues! W00t! W00t! And this is the last one that will post in the myspace blog. From this point onward, this blog will be the official home of On the Spectrum. I'm still going to maintain my MySpace page, but only as a personal profile and blog; not for the comic.

So if you're just tuning in, and wondering how I created 50 comic strips in two days, haha, yeah, I didn't. This strip was stared on MySpace over a year ago, OTS#1 posted on 7/31/08 to be precise. And while there are a lot of cool things you can do in MySpace (why would anyone use facebook?!) There are also some limitations with it that make the Google blog a better product, IMHO. I've still got to see if I can tinker with the size of the images though - it would be nice to be able to post them legibly w/o having to click out. I'll see what I can do about that. (Maybe do the four panels vertically?) We'll see what works. But every strip that posted over the past year on MySpace (OTS #1-49) has been moved here. And going forward, the strip should update about once a week, typically late Saturday night.

So please enjoy! And please feel free to leave comments, or send me a message. I really love hearing from everyone, and am fairly good about getting back. If you want to see my myspace page, it's www.myspace.com/on_the_spectrum. And it will be undergoing some major renovation now that the comic is here and that page has a different purpose. (And if you do check it out, scroll through the blog a bit. I've got some other comics that I've been working on, as well as some other tidbits, pics, youtube links, etc...)

On the Spectrum #49 - No 'hand-me-downs' for the first born!

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You can be forgiven if you don't get the joke right away. The thing it that while Michael doesn't seem to understand (or care) that flowers are typically for girls, he fully understood (and cared) that 'hand-me-downs' were for little brothers. In this scenario I guess novelty trumps gender appropriateness.

(And it's been awhile but the full image recycling count (of OTS#5) remains 6 - See OTS #'s 5, 14, 18, 27, 29 31; while the partial recycling count is now up to 4, see OTS #6, 24 & 26. LOL - It's far from the only art that gets recycled here, but I've gotten far more mileage out of that on than any of the others.)


On the Spectrum #48 - 'Incredible' Scripting, part 2

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This is a continuation of OTS #47. This line is from Syndrome's speech that kicks of his final scene in the film.


On the Spectrum #47 - 'Incredible' Scripting, part 1

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I'm sure you seen this! I think the technical term is 'scripting?' Sometimes it's in context, like above, sometimes it's when playing with toys, and sometimes it's just echolalic.

This is from Pixar's The Incredibles - another must-see, if you haven't. The line is from a scene at the beginning, when Dash was sent to the principles office, but was going to be let off, again, must to his teacher's chagrin.

Speaking of scripting, do any of you have a kid that doesn't know this one?:
800-588-2300 ... Empiiiiire ... Today!

(God I hate that song!)


On the Spectrum #46 - Kiss my...

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I could be mistaken, but did my son just tell me to kiss his...? Nah, nevermind.

It just so happens that Michael's nickname is "Moony." I swear this isn't why!


On the Spectrum #45 - Silly Question, Grandpa!

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Ask a silly question...
I was sitting accross the table from him. I think I almost spit my coffee out. He writes it folks, I just draw it! I could never make this stuff up!

On the Spectrum #44 - Sunset in the Gulf

Just for a day, I'd like to see the vivd and amazing and confusing and frustrating and wonderful world that he sees.

This was in Florida, visitng with Grandma & Grandpa during the summer.


On the Spectrum #43 - Minivans

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Michael's got good taste in cars.


On the Spectrum #42 - An Engineer's Life

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To answer your questions:
1) Yes, I am actually a seatbelt engineer.
2) Yes, it is possible for seat belt webbing to cut you if it routes over your neck. It's not common though, because...
3) Yes, we check the vehicle design to make sure it's routes so that this won't happen to most people.
4) Yes, given all that, it was Becky, Michael's speech therapist, who figured out what gave him the cut on his neck.

(It was a real high-point in my career, let me tell you!)


On the Spectrum #41 - Brotherly Love, part 2

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Ah... There's no love like brotherly love!


On the Spectrum #40 - A better door than a window

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I think this was his way of telling me, "Too bad. I ain't movin'!"


On the Spectrum #39 - Pavlautism

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It's amazing what can happen given the right motivation, isn't it?

On the Spectrum #37 & 38 - Helen Keller jokes

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No, we do not approve of 'Helen Keller jokes'...

And we're probaly going to hell for thinking about them in that second to last panel!

This is one of my favorites though. "I want to put the couch away!" is one of the reasons this strip even exsists. It's not quite as funny at three in the morning... But still.


On the Spectrum #36 - Time for bed, part 1

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Not too much to say about this one! Captain Chaos (or is he General Disarray?) strikes again!

(EDIT: Wow. I first posted this a few months ago and I just now noticed that my pants are the wrong color in every panel except #3!)


On the Spectrum #35 - Feelin' Sad

When I first posted this, a lot of people didn't get it. I guess the only thing I can really say is that, to me, Michael's feeling sad (whether becasue he felt bad about mistreating Jacob, because he made his mother sad, or just that his mother got angry with him) was his way of expressing remorse. So knowing he felt that way, I want to let DW know that she didn't have to worry. This was just the kind of thing that happens when you have two boys that are close in age. They fight. (And I'm guessing that neurotypical brothers or brothers and sisters probably don't really feel that bad about fighting, or even about getting in trouble over it! So everything's OK.


On the Spectrum #34 - It wasn't me!

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In case you're wondering how much of this strip is just made up, or taken from stories I hear from other people, the answer is, "Very little." I do sometimes change the location or context, but almost everything is depicted exactly as it happened.

That being said, this one was not actually one of ours. I witnessed this in the speech therapist's waiting room. Michael and another boy, Blake, had just finished a group session and were putting their shoes and coats on when Blake let one go. When his mother aksed him, "What do you say?" Well... see above! I almost died. (From laughing, not... well... you know!) LOL. (And IIRC, her answer to him was, "That's right!" which I found even funnier!)


On the Spectrum #33 - Bottom of the ninth

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This is very closely related to OTS #20. (Notice the recycled backlground? LOL) It's kind of the flip side of it. In that one Jacob was completely oblivious to my calling him. In this one I'm completely oblivious to him.

Which begs the question...

Who is less aware of their surroundings, an autistic child who's focused on something, or a man who's really into watching 'the game?' I'm not so sure... There are times (7th inning and onward the in post season?) where you could set my shoes on fire and I might not notice until after the third out.


On the Spectrum #32 - A likely story

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Yeah... DW wasn't too happy with me that day. And I can't say I blame her - it took us a a few weeks to re-teach him the difference between ice cream and broccoli! So yeah, I kind of won "Worst Parent in the World" that day!  There's nothing like sabotaging your son's language development just because you don't want to share the ice cream!


On the Spectrum #31 - 'E' is for 'Echolalia'

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Just in case you were wondering... :)

(Full image recycling count up to 6. See OTS #'s 5, 14, 18, 27 & 29. Partial recycling count remains at 3, see OTS #6, 24 & 26. LOL)


On the Spectrum #30 - How to cope with a haircut

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This is actually how we first got through haricuts. Before this, he'd have to sit on my lap for the longest time, and I'd have to hold him while they used the clippers, which he hated, because he wouldn't sit still enough for the scissors. He's fine with it now, and has been for awhile. He still doesn't like it but he can cope. Jacob has just recently gotten to the point where he can sit on his own as well. I still need to stay nearby (like in the next chair) though. With Michael, I no longer need to leave the waiting area.


On the Spectrum #29 - All wet!

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There are a few, really striking differences between Michael and Jacob. One of the biggest is there tolerance to being wet. Jacob can play outside, jumping on the trampoline in a driving rain. But if Michael gets a single drop of water him, he'll change all of his clothes, right down to his socks and underwear. What's depicted here is not exagerated in the slightest!

It's just one of Michael's sensory issues. He just HATES the feeling of wetness on his clothing. (So guess which one was easier to potty-train?)

(Full image recycling count up to 5. See OTS #'s 5, 14, 18, & 27. Partial recycling count remains at 3, see OTS #6, 24 & 26. LOL)


On the Spectrum #28 - Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night...

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I drive a PT Cruiser. And Michael really likes haveing the sunroof (and windows) open. Rain, snow... not important!


On the Spectrum #27 - Spirited Away

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This one might need some explaining! (To anyone who hasn't seen the movie, anyway!)

I originally posted this in tribute of Hayao Miyazaki's 67th birthday in January, 2009. Miyazaki-san is an amazing animated filmaker from Japan. The images above are from what is often considered his greatest film: Spirited Away. If you've never seen see it, WATCH IT. It's an absolute masterpiece! Truly one of the great, classic films of all time.

In the scene depicted, the main character, Chihiro, is trying to get the witch Ubaba to give her a job. She was warned that Ubaba would initally say, "No," but to keep trying. So Chihiro keeps pestering her, just as Michael is doing to me. (Hence what it reminds me of.) This goes on even to the point where Ubaba uses her magic to zipper Chihiro's mouth shut! But Chirio keeps at it anyway, and eventually the witch relents. (I do not recall, however, if I ended up giving Michael the Coke. LOL. He can be incredibly persistant though!)

This was one of Michael's favorite when I originally put it up. Spirited Away is one of his favorit movies too, and as soon as he saw the strip he immediately said, "DOOOOON'T SAAAAAY THAAAAAT AGAAAAIN!!!" in a passable imitation of the old crone's!

(Full image recycling count up to 4. See OTS #'s 5, 14, & 18. Partial recycling count remains at 3, see OTS #6, 24 & 26. LOL)


On the Spectrum #26 - Happy Birthday, Grandma

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

This is Grandma's first appearance. It's also the first (only?) time I've managed to work as many as SIX recurring charecters into one strip!

(Full image recycling count remains at 4. See OTS #'s 5, 14 & 18. Partial recycling count is up to 3, see OTS #6 & 24. LOL)


On the Spectrum #25 - HOW many...?

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I find this is a good test to see if he's just messin' around, or is he really doesn't understand. So far he hasn't called my bluff. LOL


On the Spectrum #24 - Have a neat and orderly Xmas!

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Again, I'll never understand how kids who line things up perfectly, just for fun, can have such messy rooms! The two of them have earned the nicknames, "Captain Chaos" and "General Disarray." (Yeah, we're South Park fans, too.)

This is "Grandpa's" first appearance.

(Full image recycling count remains at 4. See OTS #'s 5, 14 & 18. Partial recycling count is up to 2, see OTS #6. LOL)


On the Spectrum #23: A Christmas Carol

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But I like singing! :(

(Full image recycling count is now up to 4. See OTS #'s 5, 14 & 18. Partial recycling in OTS #6 also. LOL)


On The Spectrum #22 - Happy Birthday, Jacob

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Happy Birthday,


On the Spectrum #21 - Oh, Christmas Tree...

This is one of my favorite stories. There are three or four that I could cite as being what inspired me to start doing the comic strip and this is one of them. When he said, "Water," I almost died laughing. Becuase it's so perfect! He was absolutely, 100% correct - and yet gave me an answer I never saw coming!
I believe that, in his mind, we have to follow the procedure. And (silly, Daddy) you have to water the tree about 15-20 times before the presents go there!
(And the reason Iasked him what kind of tree it was is that he has grandparetns in Florida and was getting "pine" tree and "palm" tree mixed up; so I thought I'd test him. "Christmas" Tree was another answer that, while 100% correct, was totally not one of teh things I expected him to say.

On the Spectrum #20 - Indoor Voice

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This is one of Michael's absolute favorites. I think he thinks it's funny when Jacob gets yelled at.

There a lesson here, and it applies to both autistics as well as neurotypical people who happen to not speak your language: TALKING LOUDER PROBABLY WON'T HELP.


On the Spetrcum #19 - Paparazzi

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This must be an age / developmental stage kind od thing because, shortly after I originally posted this, the situation reversed and Jacob became camera-shy while Michael started striking poses and giving us the best 'cheeeeeeese'es. So if anyone out there is experiencing this, I'm pretty sure I can say, "It will pass."