When we stop at the donut shop the boy prefers to get a sugar-raised donut and a carton of milk.
At home, at school, everywhere he goes, the boy prefers one thing or another, typically the thing that is the same as the last time, or that one time, or every other time before.
Repetition, familiarity, predictability, sameness, all create a zone of safety for an individual on the spectrum.
They also create ruts. Walls separating the individual from growth.
It is the role (some might say responsibility) of an ASD individual’s loved ones to disrupt the routines from time to time. To create moments of tiny chaos, that challenge them to tune into their surroundings.
Like when Grandpa asked him to share some of his donut.
Sometimes these disruptions can trigger the shouting. (Again, with the shouting.)
But sometimes, when introduced by someone close, the chaos can be created within a safety zone of its own. And the response can be confusion, instead of anger. An opportunity for a moment of give and take.
“What did you say?”
“I asked if I could have some of your donut.”
Sometimes the boy will assert himself, and state a desire to stick to his routine.
“Well, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but… you can get your own donut.”
Acknowledging another person might not like his answer.
My boy is a character in an animated show for children
The boy has been sneaking lemon drops out of my backpack.
I catch him doing it again as we sit at Gate 4, awaiting our flight home.
“Buddy,” I say, “Those lemon drops are for later. We only have three left for the trip.”
“They’re MY lemon drops!” he shouts. “And I can do what I WANT with them!”
It has been a long day, and I do not wish to escalate the situation. Not in a busy airport terminal filled with people upon whom I am capable of projecting all manner of judgments about our abilities and choices as parents.
Moreover he is correct. The lemon drops are intended as a treat for him. If he chooses to finish them off and have none left for the flight maybe that could help him learn something about the costs of instant gratification, is what I tell myself.
“Fine,” is what I tell him. “Do what you want with them.”
He sneers slightly at me in satisfaction.
Then his face breaks open, into an angelic smile.
He hands one lemon drop to Christa.
“This one is for you, Mommy.”
He hands another to me.
“And this one is for you, Daddy.”
He smiles and nods at each of us, making sure we place the candies into our respective mouths.
He pops the last lemon drop into his own mouth, and sits back in his chair, content.
So: clueless, earnest writers of television shows for preschoolers who know nothing about how actual children behave or learn? You win THIS round.
The first all-company meeting I attended as an employee was in January of 2003, the day after a Macworld keynote that introduced iLife, Safari, Keynote, and the “year of the notebook”.¹
For these meetings many employees would line up early in the morning outside Town Hall for a chance at a seat in the room with Steve—and a chance to step up to the microphone during the Q&A. (Some call-in questions were taken from remote buildings and offices, but Town Hall was where the action was.)
Jobs is a master in this arena, and his ability to control the conversation while projecting an air of emotional openness and candor is something to see.²
I recall the question of one particularly clever employee (who was known for being confrontational). “Apple used to have a corporate giving program, and matching for employee donations, and now we don’t. Will we see that being reinstated?”
Steve paused for a beat, allowing the room to ripple with some mild discomfort, then said slowly “Apple’s corporate giving program is… you all get to keep your jobs.”³
“Look,” he said, “there’ve been a lot of layoffs. Dell, HP, everyone in our industry is laying people off. Our plan is to do what we can to keep everyone on board, to increase our R&D budget, and to innovate through the downturn. Then when people have money again, they’ll be ready to buy our products, and we’ll be years ahead of our competition.”
We can talk and blog and pontificate about products and product design and user experience as contributing to Apple’s success, but when we talk about why Apple has been successful as a business I think you need to talk about inventories, supply chains and profit margins (Cook), the retail store experience (Johnson) and this.
Hats off to the man.
¹Recall that iMacs still looked like swinging lamps, and iPods had been able to connect to PCs for just six months (with sync via MusicMatch). ²You get a sense of it in his 1997 WWDC keynote. ³Kind of a dick thing to say to one’s employees, but he pulled it off as a laugh line. I have a hard time imagining another CEO who could do the same.
The extra will be a sugar-raised for the boy. We are on a schedule this morning, and we are running fifteen minutes behind it.
I half-notice as I corral the boy that the woman is patting the donuts in the case before selecting them, in a manner that seems somewhat less like counting than perhaps testing for degree of staleness. But whatever, I’m in a hurry.
“A dozen, yes?”
She proffers the box, barely three-quarters filled, with twelve cake donuts.
Including two with nuts.
“I’m sorry,” I say, confused. “Couldn’t I have some raised ones in there?”
She must have assumed I was bringing donuts to an AA meeting, rather than an event with children.
“You said assorted, right?”
“Assorted is cake donuts.”
Now, I was raised believing the traditional assorted donut dozen was two plain raised, a sugar raised, chocolate raised, a jelly or two, a chocolate- or custard-filled, maybe a cruller, ALL raised but for like two cake donuts and an old-fashioned.
I do not understand what this woman is talking about.
And I have no time.
“It is a problem to get a few raised donuts in the dozen?”
“No, no problem!”
“Um, sure.” Not where I would have headed first. “But plain, too, please.” For kids.
She points to the raised sugars. “Plain?”
“Sugar-raised, yes. But also, you know, ‘regular’ raised. And maybe a chocolate.”
She places one plain raised and one chocolate raised in the box and removes two of the cake donuts.
I ask her to add two additional raised, I will pay the extra. Plus the sugar-raised for the boy.
Later, after the event, I bring home a box containing eight assorted cake donuts.
There’s a new update to ShkyCam in the App Store, with added support for custom shakes.
I’ve tried to make the home screen friendlier, with a new logo and icons in place of the original lozenge buttons.
Tapping “Upload!” no longer interrupts you to ask you to fiddle with image resolution. JPGs and PNGs are now posted at an optimized size by default (555 pixels wide, per MLKSHK’s current site design).
Unless you tap the “Options” button.
On the new options screen, you can choose to upload the image at its full resolution, and you can select a custom or group shake to which you belong. (Like the MLKSHK site itself, you can only select a single shake here.)
From the confirmation screen you can copy the URL (for use in your social media app of choice), or jump to the image in whichever shake you placed it.
Or you can start over again.
I haven’t built an integrated browser into ShkyCam, partly because I don’t want people tapping MLKSHK’s “New Post” button inside the app. So I still send you to Safari for viewing the site.
While more Twitter apps have integrated MLKSHK (or at least allowed adding it as a custom option), no additional iOS MLKSHK apps have sprung up, despite Justin Williams’ work building out the Objective-C ShakeKit library.
I am curious to see what other people come up with, especially if someone attempts a more fully-featured mobile MLKSHK app.
For now I’m trying to keep ShkyCam simple, friendly, and—with version 1.1.1*—working.
Thanks to Matt Yohe for assistance with bug fixes, research, git workflow, and additional sanity checks.
by evil: "summer breeze" is evil when it's been stuck in your head for an entire week.
The saddest thing art can be is forgettable.
But if you insist this FUCKING GREAT song is causing you excessive discomfort, please consider humming another brain-adhesive work of pop mastery aloud, e.g. Herb Alpert’s arrangement of “A Taste of Honey” or the theme from Hawaii Five-O.
EVIL SONG STUCK IN MY HEAD FOR DAYS NOW: PURGE THYSELF!
In April 2003 when Apple launched the iTunes Music Store, my band rehearsed on Tuesdays.
That evening when my bandmates arrived at the house I pulled out my 12-inch PowerBook, wanting to show them how there was this new thing where you could wirelessly download almost any song you could think of, for 99¢ a pop.
The next two hours were lost to calling out a song title, typing it into the search box. If it showed up, we clicked the “Preview Song” button, and gawked. Matt and Mike raced to be the first to play along, and if the 30-second snippet felt too short (or was pulled from the wrong point in the song), they insisted I click “Buy Song”, so they could sing, play,* or air-drum along to the entire track.
“Renegade” by Styx. “The Stroke” by Billy Squier. “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire. And yes, “Summer Breeze”.
Killer harmonies, tenacious earworm of a hook, toy piano. Fucking GREAT SONG.
*On acoustic guitar and standup bass. This was an old-time bluegrass band after all.