“Oh honey, I think they gave me another plaque by mistake.” Steve was fussing with his backpack as he was getting ready to head out the door for work. He pulled out a flat black box and handed it to me. When I lifted the lid I could see that the beautifully engraved plaque was for a patent. It was granted November 15, 2011.
The world inside of Steve’s head often has no parallels to our world. He sees things differently. To me it seems that subjects in his mind are like jigsaw puzzles with no box for reference. He’s trying to put together a picture with tiny non-recognizable pieces. He constantly glances at bits of ‘information’ pieces that should go into the big picture, but he dismisses them because they don’t appear to ‘fit’. When he doesn’t understand the big picture, he ignores ‘random’ picture parts.
Steve also does this with words. He often thinks he knows how conversations will go. He fixes these imagined conversations into his mind in such a rigid fashion that if I say some of his imagined words, he can’t comprehend any other words that I’ve spoken that don’t match his preconceived idea.
A few days ago it was snowing here. The temperature was below freezing. We run two pellet stoves around the clock when it’s cold out. Yesterday, however, it warmed up outside to almost sixty degrees so I turned off both stoves early in the morning. When Steve got home I told him that he didn’t need to fill the stoves as they had been turned off all day.
My husband’s normal arrive-home-from-work routine is this: he puts his backpack and lunchbox away, pets the dog, checks her food and water, changes his clothes, and then, during all but summer months, loads pellets into the stoves. Since I had just told him that he didn’t need to fill the pellet stoves, I was surprised to see him come into the hallway with two full bags of pellets.
When I remind him of what I just said, he insisted that I told him to fill the stoves ‘right now’! I definitely knew that I hadn’t. His mindset was firm that I ‘always demand’ that he fill the stoves as soon as he gets home. At some point in our lives I must have asked him to do this chore when he got home that day (perhaps texted or emailed a request as he understands written words better), and now it has become a hard and fast ‘rule’ in his mind.
When I mentioned ‘pellet stoves’ he replays that original request that he has cemented in his mind. Those two word pieces fit into his big picture puzzle of ‘pellet stove rules’ but my other words didn’t match so he just rejected them. He may have heard me tell him that the stoves didn’t need filling, but he didn’t or couldn’t process it because it didn’t fit his mind puzzle.
Such is my husband’s Asperger mind. A puzzle.
I think that I’ll get our kids together at our favorite steakhouse this weekend to celebrate his new patent. A good thick steak always seems to 'fit'!