|Matty - my Mac Genius|
Last weekend I was out with Kathryn for the evening. Periodically, I looked down to check my phone for messages. I noticed I had an unusual amount of new emails for 8pm on a Saturday night. Curiosity got the best of me, and I checked. There were about 10 emails from Apple telling me that the owner of the email address firstname.lastname@example.org (guess who) has tried to reset his apple ID. Lots of times. If anyone can figure out how to bypass a password or reset something on an iPad, it’s Matthew. The rule in our house about iPads is – DON’T GO TO SETTINGS. But he just can’t stop himself.
|The iPod in Polish!|
Matty has a small iPod in his room connected to a speaker specifically for playing his “sleepy music”. Here is what it looks like after he's had his impulsive button pressing session with it.
Yes, he changed the language to Polish (he broke that “don’t go to settings” rule). I was afraid he set some alarms to go off in the middle of the night and I don’t know the Polish word for “alarm” or “clock”. Luckily, it only took me about 12 minutes to get it back to English.
Have you ever forgotten a password on an iPhone, iPad or other device? After trying out different passwords, you receive a message that you are locked out for a certain time period. It usually starts with 15 minutes, then builds up to an hour, and then lengthens from there. A few months ago, Matthew successfully changed the password on his iPad (yes, he broke the “no going to settings rule” yet again). Unfortunately, he did not remember the new password. The next time he was trying to get into his iPad, it was a huge problem.
I did the math on 84,287 minutes and realized it was 2 months. Off to the Apple store we went.
As the Mac Genius in the Apple Store was helping us reset the iPad, he looked down at Matthew, who was sitting at the kids’ table checking his email on the store iPads. With a surprised look on his face, the Mac Genius said, “Wow, that’s the first time a kid has ever set up his email account on one of our iPads”. I am pretty sure that was meant as a complement. I think I can be hopeful that there may be a place for Matty among Apple Store employees when he grows up.
Impulsive. Compulsive. These words describe Matthew well. He is acting on impulse all the time, and he is also obsessive about his actions. A lot of kids with autism and other disabilities face these challenges.
Parking lots are dangerous places for us. If Matthew sees something he wants to touch, he is going to dart across to get to it. Thankfully, we live on a quiet street, because he will run across without looking. He has to touch the neighbor’s garbage cans, or see what they put in their recycling cans. The buffet at Whole Foods? Forget it. He will touch every food he gets close to. Including the steaming hot pot of white rice. If you see us there, I either have a hand on him or am constantly reminding him to have “quiet hands”.
Do you know what this piece of plastic is? It's a seat belt lock. It deters Matthew from taking off his own seat belt in the car. Of course he does know how to take the lock off, it just takes him longer when he has this on.
We are trying to give him more privacy and independence in the bathroom. After all, he is 11 years old. Here is what happened recently in the bathroom when he said he needed his privacy.
|He unscrewed the hot light bulb.|
"Just to see what will happen"
|So, what happened? One less light bulb and|
one new mess for mom to clean up.
We have been breaking in a new sitter for Matthew. I showed him (yes, a male sitter in high school!) what to do if Matthew locks him out of the house or if Matthew locks him (the sitter) in his room (yes, this has happened before!). I showed him what foods are safe for Matthew to eat and taught him what Matthew will try to get away with. When I asked if he had any questions, he asked, “what do I do if I have to use the bathroom?”. In other words, what happens during those 30 seconds when Matthew is not being watched? Great question! That’s what it feels like to live with Matthew. He needs eyes on him all the time. The impulsivity – it’s draining and exhausting.
Last week, I had to take the kids to CVS. While we were paying, the customer ahead of us who had just left the store came back in and was looking through her bags. The clerk noticed and asked if everything was OK. She responded that she was looking for her keys. Quickly and impulsively, Matthew walked a few feet over to where she was standing looking through her bags and asked, “what if you can’t find your keys?” She responded, “then I will need a ride home”. So he said “Where do you live, my mom can drive you.”
So if impulsive is how he functions, I will take it because he has such an impulsively kind heart. Sure, he causes exhaustion, weariness, anger and a host of other emotions at home with his impulsive behaviors – especially on the electronic devices. I waste tons of time going to the Apple Store and hours spent on-line with Apple Support. It is hard to clean up the messes, both physical and emotional, that he brings on. But at the end of the day, I am so thankful Matty is mine, because he impulsively offers rides home to strangers in need and sends me these messages daily.