Scholar Squiggle

So how is Squiggle?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Squiggle is terrific.

He started preschool a few months ago, a small class run by FEAT (Families for Early Autism Treatment). Ten students total, ranging from the middle to the high-end of the spectrum. One boy shares Squiggle’s hyperlexia, and I understand they get along like constants and vowels. They spend their free time happily writing words and numbers–if not “together,” exactly, then at least in close proximity to one another.

At the Easel

(An aside here, for the young men of Teh NetarWeb: don’t make the same mistake I did and fail to become a special education teacher. It’s a field populated exclusively by smart, beneficent, and heart-breakingly lovely lasses. I am so totally not kidding about this. Four years at a university and I did not spend as much time in the company of pretty college girls as Squiggle has in the two years since his diagnosis.)

The preschool occupies the upstairs floor of a house of worship, which means that I now got to church several times week. A very strange twist of events for a guy like me. It would be as if a religious person were to attend one of my Secret Atheist Meetings, where we plot our War On Christmas and write letters to the Supreme Court urging them to replace “In God We Trust” on coins with “Ask Us About Our Secular Humanism!” We are of course deathly afraid that Squiggle might catch The God while he’s there, but we have a plan in place: if anyone speaks to him about how to live a meaningful life or help his fellow man, he knows to immediately pull his emergency copy of “The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell” from his backpack and hold it in front of himself while slowly backing away.


Squiggle is still not much of a communicator. He’s great at labeling things and he vocabulary is pretty vast, but he rarely makes requests or tells us things unprompted. It’s like the idea of doing so doesn’t even occur to him. Still, there are great improvements. He’s begun using complete sentences, which is a pretty big deal. He’s gotten better at selecting from a verbal list of things to choose from (in the past he would just reflexively repeat whatever you said last). And he’s become drunk on the intoxicating power of “no.” In the space of a few months he went from a Know-It-All to a No-It-All, cavalierly nixing all of our proposals.

Me: It’s pretty late. Do you want to go to bed?

Squiggle: No go to bed.

M: Do you want to read a book?

S: No read a book?

M: Do you want to do a puzzle?

S: No do a puzzle.

M: Do you want to sing a song?

S: No sing a song.

M: Do you want to play a game?

S: No play a game.

M: Well, then what do you want to do?

{Long pause while Squiggle considers.}

S: Go to bed.

He’s gotten to be such a contrarian that he naysays all comers, even himself. One recent morning he was in the next room coloring, and I heard him sing: “Take me out to the balllllll game. Take me out to the–no song!” {Silence}.

Punk'in Patch

By the way, someone asked what Squiggle did for Halloween. The answer is: fell asleep in the car on the way over to our friend’s house. We threw him on a spare bed and he snoozed through all the mayhem.

S’okay, he didn’t have a costume anyhow, just a stylish shirt with pumpkins on it. And he got plenty o’ Halloween at preschool that day. While he was there, I got an IM from The Queen:

The Queen: When I dropped him off, his teacher was wearing pumpkin glasses
Q: But she had to take them off
Q: Because they were terrifying the kids.

Me: hahaha
Me: That’s the great thing about Halloween with autistic kids
Me: they’re easy to scare.
Me: “Today we’re going to drive to pre-school …
Me: by a different route!!”

Anyway, long story short, Squiggle is healthy, happy, charming as all get-out, and just about the–no post!

26 thoughts on “Scholar Squiggle

  1. I’m always amazed that kids have such an uncanny sense of direction when traveling in a car — when I still don’t know where the hell I’m going.

  2. Just wait till there is a fire alarm. Not only is there a scary bell ringing, but also your routine is interrupted and you have to leave the room, THROUGH ANOTHER DOOR.

    And I’m done being mean about autistic kids.

  3. Good to hear the Squirrelly ( he will never be Squiggle to me!) is doing so well.

    Dude, you gotta cut the grass.

  4. “”Take me out to the balllllll game. Take me out to the–no song!” {Silence}.”

    That’s going into my top ten favorite kid stories. Hilarious.

  5. Your FEAT / FETA typo is causing all sorts of hyperlexic short circuits in me. Please repair it so I can get some sleep.

  6. I work with high school students with emotional disorders. the autistic ones are my favorites. Most are sweet when you learn how to relate to them.

    Several of my colleagues are lovely women. Might not be the best reason to choose this line of work, but it’s a nice bonus

  7. publishing stuff like this ?
    i still don’t know…..

    i wouldn’t do that, it’s his life, even you as his father have no right, and i don’t mean that legally, no right to publish information this delicate on his behalf. it’s up to your son to do so when the time comes, for the moment it is a bad move. leave him alone, you don’t own him.
    watch him be. don’t report. there’s no sensibility in that at all.

  8. Just wanted to say to HS that if he doesn’t like it, he shouldn’t read it! It’s no different from what any other blogger would post about their child. It’s not “delicate” information. Just a parent telling about the kid he loves. Hilarious too!

  9. Um, HS? People have been writing about their kids and their experiences with their kids for as long as someone first thought to put ink in a quill. Before that, even, I bet. Sharing our stories and finding solace, empathy, joy, and even the humor therein is a large part of what makes us human. Well that and our ability to make really great tacos.

    Writers are reporters, parents love their children and often the twain do meet.

  10. This is fantastic, funny and shocking all at once. I was diagnosed with a very mild form of autism late in life and have since looked at events from my childhood in a completely different manner. It all makes sense now.

    Squiggle is a damn lucky kid to be diagnosed early on and have parents who know how to let him become his own person.

    The different route joke is spot on. Ouch. :)

  11. I lived in Amsterdam for a year, and took care of three little boys. The middle child had Asperger’s Syndrome. When we first met, he was of course very shy with me, and would hardly speak to me directly, except to tell me I wasn’t driving the correct route to places. He was only 5 and I was so amazed by the fact that he could direct traffic so well!!!! He was an amazing little man!!

  12. Squiggle is a cutie and it sounds like he is doing very well. I think that you might want to consider a conversion to Banjoism…it just might be the right fit for your spiritual self…of course, I’m not recruiting you…it’s entirely up to you (tenet #1 toward the bottom of the link) Banjoism

  13. “don’t make the same mistake I did and fail to become a special education teacher. It’s a field populated exclusively by smart, beneficent, and heart-breakingly lovely lasses. ”
    Excepting that it pays for shit. And it is a thankless job that is FAR FAR FAR harder than you could imagine. This is MALE experience talking. Though I did marry a purdy teacher…

  14. Does he hate Christmas? My oldest is on the Autism spectrum and the first few Christmas mornings with him were a real let down. He couldn’t even be in the same room with the presents the first year, and the second year he had to face the wall and be handed a present one at a time. Christmas took over four hours. If change is bad, then change is bad. Even when it’s good.

    He’s 8 now and is much, much better about Christmas, but only because it’s happened enough times to now be a normal yearly occurrence. He still wants to go to school 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and do the exact same thing every day, but he no longer freaks out if that doesn’t happen.

  15. HS: How you could read DY’s posts about his son and not see an amazingly loving parent is beyond me. I think it’s great that in between hilarious humor writing, Matthew is trying to educate the rest of us about a very complicated, poorly understood condition.

    It’s so obvious that DY and The Queen are raising a very happy healthy child. If they think posting about their kid online is OK, it’s not for any of the rest of us to judge.

    /steps off soapbox

  16. I’ve been reading DY for what seems like forever, it’s my absolute favorite blog. When I read your posts about your son, I just can’t help thinking, “I wish I was friends with this guy”. Thanks for writing this.

  17. Please don’t stop sharing some of the moments from Sqiggle’s life – I don’t think HS sees what a blessing it is for other parents of special needs kids like me to read about Squiggle and GET IT, really really get it.

    (Get it while drinking, unfortunately, causing me to snort Vitamin Water out my nose at the IM exchange about the different route to school. THAT, I get.)

  18. He’s gotton SO BIG!
    You had me cracking up, as usual. I agree with Edward, and I regularly refer parents who have recently-diagnosed children to read your blog. You enjoy your son so much, and love him like every child deserves to be loved. More than one family has thanked me profusly for introducing them to your blog.

  19. Edward writes: “I’ve been reading DY for what seems like forever, it’s my absolute favorite blog. When I read your posts about your son, I just can’t help thinking, “I wish I was friends with this guy”.”

    that’s exactly my point, this is not written by the son, but by his father, who, for whatever reason, finds comfort in telling all, not just to his private, chosen friends, but to all of the folks on the internets, about his son.
    let the son decide, he can not now, so let him be.

  20. Hey, I think it is great to read about your son.. I check your blog often just to see if you have updated anything new about Squiggle!!! he is just as cute as can be!

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