Routine tasks often prove the hardest for my Noah. Tasks of a higher emotional and intellectual input are nearly impossible. This move of ours – wherein we moved a mere 6 miles from our former home, kept all children in the same school, and did it all slowly, as unhurriedly as possible over the course of a month so as to prevent any psychic earthquakes – sent Noah into a tailspin. I should have guessed this was going to be the case. There is only so much cushioning you can give an Aspie when his world begins to change. So, in the wake of the final push of our move, I should not have been surprised that Noah’s behavior fell somewhere between chaos and rage. On the day itself, Noah blasted past us in the foyer, hurtling down to his room, yelling over his shoulder that he had a project he was going to do. That this was his “plan for the day.” Before we settled into our new home, Noah had packed everything from torn posters to bits of tape he’d salvaged from the walls. There were figurines with missing heads, carnival slinkies stretched beyond use, shoes with shredded soles. He was unable to distinguish between useful and superfluous, between broken and functional. Everything that could possibly be thrown away made it into a moving box and came with us. Unpacking this all gave me apoplexy. For an almost 9-year-old, a request to send him to his room to pack his belongings is a natural one. One assumes that there will be some sort of self-governance that eliminates the moving of – for lack of a better term – “junk.” But Noah’s “junk” moving was just the beginning. Once at the house, this “project” of his ate the better part of a day, and I didn’t bother to check its progress because it kept him out of my hair. When he yelled from the bottom floor, insistent that I come see what he’d done, my jaw hit the floor. He opened his closet door to show me this:
“It’s my DS store,” he said. And sure enough, on every shelf, Noah had aligned his DS games with cases upright and inserts facing out, just as they are displayed at Gamestop. Now this was a puzzle to me. The boy who packs things like books with missing pages, or plush animals vomiting their stuffing; who throws every lego he owns in a giant box, but tosses the instructions (insuring that he’ll never construct the pieces from the set in their intended way, again), THIS boy had taken the case for every DS he owns and arranged them with the precision of a scientist. WHY? This was also a puzzle to me. All I can imagine – and this is where I must be content to let the questions end (because sometimes guessing is all I’ve got) – is that this was Noah’s way of not only controlling his environment, but controlling (channeling?) his emotions through the precise, repetitive task of touching and working with the familiar things that he loved.
Grace, ever the pragmatist, folded her arms in front of his closet. “Uh, that’s great, Noah. But you have one little problem. Where are your clothes going to go?” We still don’t know. For now, they’re still mostly in boxes on the floor. His room’s a mess, and so is mine. We’re not quite open for business. But we have a little peace.