green striped jammiesThe title of this post comes from the movie Groundhog Day. Remember that movie? Every day it’s the exact same thing, for God knows how eternally long. Then, finally, one day it’s different — and Phil says, “Anything different is good.”

Blue Eyes and I have been quoting this line to each other ever since the autism diagnosis. What is it in these kids that makes their minds get stuck on something?

RDI labels inflexible thinking as one of the top five  deficits of autism. Joseph doesn’t have it to extremes, but we do see it.

For instance, Joseph has had these words that he wouldn’t say. Refused to say. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to why he chose these words not to say.

Those words were: coffee, Aunty Wendy, Kristin (a girl in his preschool), trick or treat, and ambulance.

He also gets stuck on clothes. Last winter, for example, Joseph loved his flannel railroad jammies with the long sleeve shirt and long pants. He got so stuck on them that he insisted on wearing them every night during the hot (as in 90-100 degrees F) summer. If you scan through this blog, you’ll see him in them in several posts.

But here we are, 3 + months into Valtrex (anti-viral — see biomedical posts). At first, the Valtrex Joseph sprinted out of the gate, leaving the old Joseph in the dust. We hit a little regression here and there and then, most recently, a plateau that lasted a couple of weeks. We considered taking him off Valtrex…wondered if it was time…

But now he’s got a second wind. When we first started the Valtrex we saw the most changes in vocabulary, eye contact, use of names (finally), that sort of thing. This time we’re seeing what I officially call Unstuckness.


Note the photo at the top of this post. This is Joseph in his green-striped pajamas. He has worn these now, on his own initiative, for two nights in a row. Blue Eyes and I almost fell over when he walked into the kitchen wearing them.

He’s choosing other new clothes to wear, but it doesn’t stop there. He’s saying those words — after more than a year! All of them but ambulance, and, in truth, he is pretty darn scared of ambulances and the noise they make, so “white thing” is a safer substitute.

And, hey, how about this: he answers people when they say hello. He tells me, “I can do it myself!” He is thinking carefully about choosing the right pronouns before he says them.

I happened to get Joseph’s last swim lesson on video. There is a great moment where he jumps in the pool and then tries 3 times to get the teacher’s attention in order to acknowledge how well he jumped. He finally gets her attention by saying, “I did it!” loudly and with pride.

I sent that footage to my RDI consultant, who responded that it brought tears of joy to her eyes. Tears of joy in our consultant is very different — and very good.

So, to those of you who are going through the agonizing monotony of sameness, I say hang in there. I know the physical and soul weariness of that inflexible thinking. But don’t give up on your kid. Amazing things can happen, if we can be resilient and open.

Anything different is good. And when it’s good, it can be R-E-A-L good.