Hey! That’s not in the script!


About a year or so ago, I wrote a post about the difficulty DC has with using the telephone (Don’t forget to call Mom). We haven’t made all that much progress since that post but we continue to work at it. As I said in that post, he does know how to use the telephone, but he only uses it when he is told to. It is never spontaneous. Most of his calls are to me, to tell me he is leaving work and again to tell me that he is home.

Much of the conversation with me when he calls is a script. There were a few times that he was late calling me to tell me that his transportation arrived. Wondering if he had just forgotten,  I called him and he told me he was “going home nowwwwwww”, which is what he tells me every day. As it turned out, he was not in the car – he was not going home. The car was running late. He has his script and he rarely deviates from that script.

It was a very long process – a very long process to teach him how to get into the house by himself. Because I work and because his dismissal time from school seemed to get earlier and earlier with each step up (from elementary to middle school to high school), I was always worried that, due to traffic or some other unforeseen circumstance, he might arrive home before I did. I wanted him to be able to get himself in, lock the door and call me – just in case. That whole process is a blog for another day.

He does now have someone after work that comes to the house and is with him for life skills and community activities for 2 hours a day. Still, there might be times when his car is early and he arrives before his aide does. It does not happen often but do I always want him to be prepared.

Having said that it does not happen often, coincidently it this happened twice just recently….

The Phone Rings:

DC: Hi Mom, I am home.

Me: Hi, DC. Is Mrs. H there yet? (I knew she wasn’t, but would be there in seconds – but still I like to try to get the correct replies)

DC: No.

Me: Did you lock the door?

DC: Yes

Me: Did you lock the door?

DC: No.

Me: Please go and lock the door. You are supposed to lock the door as soon as you come home.

DC: Okay

Me: Don’t hang up! (He does not understand that he can just put the phone down, lock the door and come back)

He hangs up…

and second later the phone rings

DC: Hi Mom, I am home again!

I mentioned his “Going home nowwww” script above. He uses the same script every day. Once in a great while he will change it up a bit, but it does not last. He reverts to his regular script the next day. As I also said above, I can’t take his scripting to be what is actually happening. Fortunately he always talks to me on speaker, so if what he is telling me, is not what is really going on someone – his boss or the driver will chime in to give me the real story.

The other morning DC, as he does every day, announced that he only had “Two Dollars Left” . This is always his way of telling me he wants money for hot lunch at work. He doesn’t understand money and I think he believes I have a never-ending supply of it in my wallet. I discovered that I didn’t have any cash so I told him he would have to make his lunch that day. He was not happy about this at all and began to get very demanding about money for hot lunch. I explained to him again that I didn’t have any money to give him for lunch and if he did not stop behaving this way, I would not give him lunch money any more and he would have to make his own lunch every day.

He stopped.

When he called me from the car on his way home that afternoon – he went right into his normal conversation:

“Hello Mom”

“Hi, DC. What are you doing?”

“I am going home Nowwww”

“Did you have a good day?”


“Okay, call me when you get home”


That morning’s conversation must have been on his mind all day because before he hung up he yelled

“I want Mom’s money!!!!!!!!”

I could hear the driver laughing and I really couldn’t help laughing myself. I guess when there is something that is really important to him, especially when there is food involved, he can and will go “off-script” to make that perfectly clear to me.

Don’t Forget to Call Mom

Don't forget to call Mom

Don’t forget to call Mom

There are many times, even at this point that I really do not know if DC really understands certain things or if he is just going through the motions; the motions that were taught to him. There are other times that I am surprised to find that he really does understand, even if he is using one of his scripts to communicate it. It is not always easy to tell the difference. I don’t think it will ever be easy, but I do not think that using the telephone will ever be one of those things he completely understands.

I have worked long and hard over the years but DC still has a hard time using the telephone. To begin with, he just doesn’t like it, he doesn’t. When he was younger, he couldn’t even bear to have the receiver on or near his ear. He has always had a very low tolerance for anything having to do with his ears, so using the telephone or just listening to someone that wanted to say hello to him was just unbearable for him.

Secondly, as I stated above,  I really do not think he understands it completely. If he dials incorrectly, he doesn’t understand that he should hang up and dial again, he just keeps dialing. I finally got him to the point where he could tolerate the phone on his ear. He has memorized our phone number, but as he doesn’t always understand the question “What is your phone number”, I don’t know if he would be able to give it to anyone if he needed to. He does know how to call me.

He is still not all that thrilled about using the telephone, though. If he does get a call, it has to be brief. When he’s had enough, he will say nothing and just hand me the phone. I have to tell the party on the other end (who is usually still talking to him, not knowing he’s passed off the call to me) that DC is done talking. Not very long ago when he was talking to his father, he handed me the phone when he decided he was finished, as usual. I handed it back to him and said “DC, you have to say good-bye to people on the phone when you are finished.”

He took the receiver back and said “Goodbye to the people”

He does have an iPhone now. He knows how to use it. He is very good at using iTunes and YouTube, but still the phone part of it is difficult. He is supposed to call me on my cell phone when his transportation arrives to pick him up from work; he does, but it is a script.

“Hello Mom”

“Hi, DC. What are you doing?”

“I am going home Nowwww”

He says this the same way in the same tone, with the same emphasis on the “Ow” in “now” – every day.

“Did you have a good day?”


“Okay, call me when you get home”


When he gets home he is supposed to call me from the house phone because I want him to know how to DIAL my phone and memorize my cell number as well.

He does call just about everyday. There were and still are a few days that he forgets and I have to call him. Hearing the phone ring, must remind him he has forgotten to call me so instead of just answering the phone, he picks it up and dials my number while I am on the phone, and then goes though his “at home” script. If for some reason it is not me calling him, the person on the other end gets the script and then he hangs up.

“Hi, Mom I am home”
“Hi DC, is Mrs. H there?” (she has already texted me to let me know she is there)

“What are you going to do today?”
“Go to ____” (enter, Library, Track or whatever  activity depending on what day of the week it is)
“That sounds like fun. Okay, I will see you in a little while”
“Okay, Goodbye Mom.”

He does not understand voicemail or answering machines, even though I let him listen to mine and try to explain what it is, I just can’t seem to come up with an explanation that he can understand. If he does leave a message on my phone, I don’t think he realizes he is leaving a message, he just goes through his script and hangs up, thinking I must not have a lot to say that day???

He will not use the phone spontaneously. This is something I really want him to understand. I want him to think to call me if something is wrong or if he happens to get lost or for any reason at all. I want it to occur to him if something goes wrong, that he should use his phone. I really am not sure that it would occur to him. I’ve gone over this many times, but as many times as he says he understands, I don’t think he does. He has never called anybody spontaneously, he has just about never asked to call anyone. After all this time, he still only uses the telephone when he is told to, to call me from his transportation and to call me when he gets home.

We’ll keep working on it….

A few days ago, I had to leave work early for a dental appointment and then a doctor appointment. The appointments went quickly, so I was home before his aide arrived to meet him after work. He called me from the car as usual. When he arrived home both his aide and I were there. I was talking to Mrs. H in the kitchen. DC came in, he said hello to me and Mrs. H and gave me a hug.

Mrs. H and I were still talking in the kitchen, while DC went into the living room, I thought to have his snack “alone” (he likes to be alone when he has his snack).  My cell phone, which was charging right in front of the phone in the living room, started to ring and I said “I’ll bet he’s calling me”.

From the kitchen, I asked:

“DC, what are you doing?”

“Hi, Mom. I’m home” (from the living room talking into the phone, probably to my voicemail).

When he is doing what he was told to do, I try not to do anything to throw him off or make him forget to call me the next time, so I went with it.

“Is Mrs. H. there?”


“What are you going to do today?”

“Go to the Li-ber-ary”

“Okay, I’ll see you in a minute”

“Okay, Mom, see you later!” and he came back into the kitchen.

Yes, Rule – followed……

but there is still some work to do………………….