Friday, February 19, 2010

My friend Petunia and her brother Bob with Asperger's

My friend Petunia is going to be guest blogging about keeping her brother Bob this week. Bob has Asperger's syndrome. I've met Bob. I didn't realize there was anything amiss with him - just thought he was some guy with a strong interest in 40s movies. But then I am not the most perceptive woman on the block.

Petunia is keeping Bob because their sister, Lily, who was supposed to keep him this week, had yet another failed suicide attempt the other day. Lily will do anything to get out of her family obligations. Now Lily is on the way to being committed. Again. You'd think Lily would know by now that pills and a phone call are not the way to commit suicide. You'd also think that if she didn't want to keep Bob for the week, she would just say, "Hey. I don't want to keep Bob for the week." But to OD on pills - that's a little dramatic. That is also the Lily way. I have met Lily.

Bob usually lives with his mother and stepfather, but they are on their way to stay with sister #3, Violet, who has just had a baby.

Petunia has prepared her house for Bob's arrival. She has hidden most of the food. Why?

"Because Bob will open a can of frosting and scoop out one tablespoon for whatever concoction he is making. Then the frosting is ruined. I can't use it. I might have been saving it for something the next month. Or just whenever. I've hidden all the brownie mix and cake mix and everything in Joe's office."

Here are the rules for Bob.

1. No showers before 9:00 a.m. "Because otherwise Bob would get in the shower and stay there for an hour and use up all the hot water and nobody would be able to get ready for work."

2. No petting the dogs. "They get jealous. He doesn't pick up on their cues, like hair raising on their backs. Then they start fighting."

3. He can't leave the house. "Can you imagine? He'd be dead in an hour."

4. He is not allowed in Joe's office.

Check back here for Petunia's adventures with Bob.


BethanyC said...

I just watched the movie Adam. Adam, the protagonist has Asperger's. Don't know if it was a romanticized view of Asperger's but I really did LOVE the movie and I learned a little too.

Class factotum said...

There is an excellent book about a guy with Asperger's called, "Look me in the eye" by John Elder Robison. I don't know how anyone could romanticize this condition - Bob will never live on his own, not because he is not smart enough but because he cannot read social cues - but this book really does a good job of showing what life is like for someone who has it. Robison does live on his own and has a successful career. It is an wonderful book, but also very sad.

Richard in NY said...

I never understood canned frosting. Is there anything easier to make than frosting? To me this is like buying frozen toast.

Class factotum said...

Canned frosting is for emergencies like, "I have to take something to work tomorrow" or "I have to take something to the bake sale at church and they won't know I made it." And frosting is easy, but good frosting is not cheap. Butter. It is also time-consuming to get it right.

There is probably a market for frozen toast. Put it next to the cooked bacon.

Enbrethiliel said...


But wouldn't you have to pop frozen toast in the toaster, anyway, to thaw it out for eating? =P

The romanticising of Aspergers is quite common on the Internet. I think people like the "compromise" that is high-functioning autism: by "self-diagnosing" themselves with Aspergers, they get to have their cake and eat it, too. When I was in uni, I lived in the same student hostel with a young man who really did have Aspergers. You're right that it wasn't easy for him, wasn't fun, and wasn't romantic! He's still one of the sweetest fellows I've ever met, though.

Mark said...

Looking forward to the posts. As a parent with a high functioning autistic child, I know sharing the stories can be therapeutic. I'll share some brief ones.

Right now we are dealing with a boy that has recently seen the IMAX movie "Under the Sea". Ever see a cuttle fish strike for food. Imagine a nine year old coming up and doing it to your nose!!!! OUCH!!!!!

Class factotum said...

Enbrethiliel, I do know a young woman who said that her friends joke about having Asperger's. I think you're right - it's all about getting to be really smart without having to be pay attention to social cues, only these people CAN pay attention, they just don't want to. They're just lazy. I don't like the jokes. They're mocking people who don't have a choice.

Mark, I am still waiting for Petunia to send her posts. I think she is a little bit busy. I will have to call her.