Although I’m almost afraid to comment for fear of jinxing things, Alex’s obsession/anxiety/frustration about the computer game Monopoly Junior seems to be fading. On Friday, we took him to McDonald’s, where large posters advertised the current Monopoly sweepstakes, yet he did not seem fazed by the reminder of the game that currently annoys him so much. On top of that, as I waited in line, I saw promotional placemats with the Monopoly character Uncle Moneypenny and decided to get one for Alex, stupidly forgetting that his former love of the game has turned to hatred. As I brought him the placemat depicting the Monopoly logo and main character, Ed shot me a look as if to ask, “Are you crazy?” Trying to avoid the wrath of Alex, I suggested that I hold the placemat for him, but he seemed amused by the placemat rather than incensed. Thankfully, he accepted the Monopoly placemat in the spirit I had intended and didn’t hold my foolish gesture against me. However, that placemat found a home in the garbage soon after we came home—I wasn’t taking any chances that reminder might upset Alex.
Besides being pleased to hear less complaining about Monopoly Junior, we’re also happy to see that Alex has completely returned to his energetic self. During his bout with lethargy in the late spring and early summer that his chiropractic internist diagnosed as allergic shutdown, Alex would sleep twelve hours every night and lie on the couch most of the day, too tired to do much of anything. Over the summer, he gradually regained his former energy levels and now sleeps normally at night and acts as though he feels much better, bouncing through the house as he did before. Despite these positive changes, we’re also somewhat perplexed by some other recent trends we’ve seen in Alex. For example, his eating habits have changed a bit. Specifically, Alex has always savored his food, taking his time to enjoy a meal. We figured this was a trait he inherited or learned from Ed, who also takes his time to eat a meal. As one who eats rapidly (which I blame on childhood years of eating in the school cafeteria, where I had to inhale my food to make sure I finished lunch in the short amount of time we were allotted), I find myself constantly waiting for Alex and Ed to finish a meal. Lately, Alex has also taken to eating rapidly, downing his food as though someone might steal it from him, then looking earnestly at Ed to gain permission to be excused from the table. I’m guessing that he hurries to eat so that he can go do other things he wants to do, such as watch television or use his computer. Although we’re surprised by this sudden change, we’re thankful that he has a hearty appetite, eats a good variety of foods, and never complains about what food is put before him.
The most surprising difference in Alex has been his current aversion to grooming. Previously, Alex loved being groomed and seemed to crave the sensory stimulation he gained from having his hair combed or his teeth brushed. He actually enjoyed having me cut his hair, even asking for haircuts long before he ever needed them. In addition, he liked getting a shave, to the point he would smile so much as I used the electric razor that I had trouble getting his upper lip shaved. Currently, he is in need of a haircut and a shave, which gives him sort of a rumpled look. Thankfully, he willingly bathes daily and will barely tolerate brushing his teeth, which I insist he must do. As for the shaggy hair and whiskers, I’ve decided this battle isn’t worth fighting so long as he keeps his hair and face clean. While I tend to attribute most trends to autism and sensory issues, I suspect he is probably just engaged in some form of teen rebellion with regard to his hair and beard, and the less we say, the better. I guess it could be worse; I’ve seen pictures of Ed when he wasn’t much older than Alex, and his hair was much longer, or he could be like my nephew, whose mother wasn’t thrilled when recently shaved part of his head to create a Mohawk for his senior football season. Fortunately, phases usually don’t last long with Alex, so I’ll try to wait patiently until he decides that he’d like a haircut and a shave, just so long as he doesn’t start talking about Monopoly Junior again.
“Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:25