Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Funny stuff kids and teens with special needs say

"Ooool," said Max. I'd asked what he wanted me to put on top of his max 'n cheese. Usually, he says "Ehhh-uh" ("ketchup"), and I had no idea what "ooool" meant.

"Can you show me on the iPad?" I asked, wondering if the word was in his speech app.

"Nooooo," he said.

He gestured toward his mouth and down at the bowl of mac 'n cheese on the table. Then he wiped his mouth back and forth.

"Ohhh!" I said, laughing. "You put drool on your mac 'n cheese!"

Max cracked up and nodded. He has a habit of drooling, from the cerebral palsy. Max never used to notice or care; lately, he notices but still doesn't seem to care. "Wipe your mouth!" is a common refrain heard around our house. Max was joking with me about drool on his mac 'n cheese.

This isn't the sort of joke that would fly on David Letterman. I'd venture to say that few people in this world would find it at all amusing, and their names are Dave, Ellen, Max and Sabrina. You have to be a member of a very special club to get it.

While joking about special needs doesn't always go over well with other people, in the confines of our family it's OK and laugh-worthy. I thought it was rather awesome that Max was being self-depracating, too. "Child laughs at own drool" is not a milestone you'd read in any of the child development books, but it shows a certain level of cognition.

At times, we have to laugh about the things Max and our family deal with. It lightens life up, makes Serious Things seem less so. We are laughing with Max, of course, not at him. Sabrina actually does this dead-on impersonation of Max's speech that makes all of us giggle like crazy. Cruel? It might seem that way if you don't have a kid with special needs. But for us, this is a normal part of being a family; we good-naturedly make fun of each other. When Sabrina has a meltdown, as she's prone to do, Max has been known to get down on the floor and imitate her ridiculous flailing.

It would be abnormal if our family treated Max as if he were too fragile to tease.

I got to thinking about special needs humor yesterday, when a friend connected me with another special needs parent. Alison is mom to Zach, 15, who has autism. We were trading notes on holiday travel plans and she told me that one of her family's most "notorious" vacation stories is when they got on an airplane and Zach shouted "Oh, I have a bad feeling about this. I left my weapons at home!"

I could not stop laughing.

Oh, but Alison wasn't done. She proceeded to tell me about the time her family went to what she described as a "fancy-schmancy" restaurant. Zach started calling for her really loudly. When she asked him to lower his voice and tell her what he needed, Zach said, in a "not-so-inside" voice, "Mom, I left my penis in my blue pants." !!!

OK, so I know you guys must have some rather precious moments of special needs hilarity. Share! I think we could all use a laugh right about now, yes?


  1. If you haven't already, check out Lee Ridley, a stand-up comedian that uses his iPad to perform,

    I heard of a fun incident that happened when a group of people with intellectual disabilities were to enter the customs, flying from Sweden to the states for the first time. One of them yelled loudly to the group leader: "Hey, what did you say we should tell them we were again? Tourists or terrorists?"

    There was also this one time when my friend, who has ADHD and some other disabilities, was entering the U.S. customs, and one of them had a bag of medicine with her, approved by her doctor. To explain this to the customs, she burst out, rather defensive: "I take drugs! I take drugs!"


  2. Ash is only just starting to consciously understand that he is not a typical kid, but his latest is explaining when he can't get a grip, by saying, "And my brain is like, 'WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!'" (He is imitating Ellen Degeneres, with the WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?!)

  3. i had a good laugh over max's joke! what a great sense of humor!

    we grew up making family jokes about me having marfan syndrome. my brother always came up with the best ones...which i could think of a specific one right now!

    we've kept the same sense of humor in our family, finding the humor in autism and marfan. here's a funny one from M (autism) yesterday:

    his speech therapist suggested that in order to encourage him to talk about what happened at school, we should ask him who was absent and what they missed, rather than what he did at school, because it would take the pressure off him. good idea, right? well, not sure how often she's tried it on kids with autism (who tend to be literal), because this is how the conversation went.
    "M, who was absent from school today?"
    "Oh, that's too bad! Well, what did she miss?"

  4. Yesterday I was bragging about all the exercises I did to keep fit and my sister said "I walked" to which I replied "That's mean" and we both started laughing.

  5. Even as an objective outside observer, I think the drool comment is quite hilarious and a sign that the best is yet to come!

  6. Thanks for the reminder!

    Humor has been so freeing for us. It's the one time we get to be part of the "in crowd", and it's so comforting that the other "insiders" are those we love so much. It's also been a very good thing for my typical daughter, as she comes into her teen years. She has developed quite a savvy way of looking at the world and also knows that sometimes the darkest of days are laced in laughter--and its ok to laugh. Alison (Mom to Zach-Autism)

  7. Love this post! Thank you!

    By the way, have you seen this video?
    I just watched it and I thought you might like to see it as well.

  8. My family's motto is "you have to be crazy, or you'll go crazy!" which is very true in our house-- and we tease each other all the time :) I have CP, my brother has Aspergers, my sister has a heart defect and seizure disorder, and my Mom has MS. I grew up being called "funny legs" and "the caboose" because I was always the last to get anywhere. Learning to laugh at yourself when you have a disability and find humor in the crazy things is so important! For example, my left arm is incredibly spastic and will jump and random intervals, and I've been known to wack things or people or spill all over... And all my friends and family just laugh with me. It's so funny because people "on the outside" just get shocked when we joke around. Max brings a smile to my face all the time by the way, I love "meeting" others with CP. The community of people who have disabilities is so wonderful.

  9. Awesome post! Nothing like a little drool in your mac & cheese to lighten up the mood!

    I blogged about this recently here:
    (Hint: Quentin's joke has to do with his lack of verbal abilities - a little like Max's joke!)

  10. Max is hilarious. Are you aware of the Uk commedienne Francesca Martinez, who has cerebral palsy? She has a very wise and witty take on growing up with CP and being different, along with a sharp mind for political satire (I first heard her on a BBC panel show.) I am a carer to a girl with special needs and whenever someone stares, I hear Francesca's voice in my head saying "I knooowww what's wrong with your braaaaiiiiin." She's a gem.

    S, my kiddo, has a severe language delay but also thinks it's hilarious to pretend she can't talk at all when she doesn't like the question.

  11. Ever since I told him we were moving at the end of this school year, The Boy has been hatching plans to stay where we live (all in humor, as I believe he really understands). This past summer, he announced he would be moving in with his friend rather than move with me. I told him that the police would come and find him because he belonged with me. He replied, "Well when the police come (to his friend's house), I'll just act natural." Bwahahaha!

  12. one of my campers with autism: (finds a quarter on the ground) Can I bring this home for my dad? He likes money!

    Milana (5, with Down syndrome): :::Signs::: eat cookie?
    Mom: No! You need to have your dinner first. :::goes to get something for another kid.
    Milana (to me): :::signs::::: cookie! Now please!

    My sister: Bella! How are you? Want to play soccer?
    Bella (on her ipad): See you later alligator. BYE! (runs away)

    Will (very angry at me): you.... you... you... WO MAN!

  13. I have another one, from my girl with global developmental delay.

    Me- I wonder what Santa is going to bring you?
    S- Raeh
    Me- (guesing) Red? Rain? Reindeer?
    S- Rain. On head. (Beat) Funny! Haha!


Thanks for sharing!

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