Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pink Panther to the rescue

At the suggestion of one of my autism mommy friends, I decided to check out Pink Panther cartoon episodes for my kids. I remember watching Pink Panther as a kid, but it never really held a lot of fascination for me. However, I do distinctly remember the theme song! You remember it too, right? I think you would have had to be living under a rock if you didn’t have that song permanently ingrained in your brain. I used to love the mellow tones of the saxophone and the jazzy lilt to the music that ran through the episodes.
Well, I was complaining chatting about the latest cartoon my kids were perseverating on. She understood completely. Echolalia can take over our home with the latest brand of cartoon fascination. It can become consuming and after a while I can get downright annoyed. In February I wrote, “Chaaarge! Retreat!” about how my boys were reliving an episode of Bugs Bunny over and over again. It’s cute to think about them playing nicely together (for once!) and acting out the parts, but when you’ve seen and heard it a zillion times in a row it ceases to possess the same level of cuteness.
In case you don’t know or haven’t yet figured it out, echolalia is when a child repeats or echoes back something that is said. When they do it for an extended dialog, like memorizing all the lines from their favorite show, it's called scripting. Then, you add in perseverative behavior (an obsessive interest in something; in this case, repeating something over and over) and it feels like it’s frying my brain one cell at a time. They love it.    
I’ve heard practically every single cartoon I’ve ever seen with my children repeated back to me in some fashion. Often they are able to pull phrases and words from various shows they’ve seen and string parts of them all together to form an in-context conversation. Most people who don’t really know my boys may have no idea whatsoever that the words they speak may not even be their own. It’s a finely crafted facsimile of a conversation and it’s an astonishing feat when you think about it. I could never do that in a million years! The way my boys can categorize and memorize information is beyond my comprehension, and is most certainly one of the gifts that comes with their particular brand of autism.
Anyway, my friend reminded me how perfect Pink Panther would be for my kids. There is almost no dialog! (Insert singing choir of angels here...) They would only be watching it for the musical and comedic value and I likely wouldn’t want to strangle them afterward. Yes! This was something I could get behind! I discovered that Hulu.com picked up some of the old episodes and made them available on their site for free online viewing. Since we no longer have cable television, it was perfect for us. And, the best part is, the kids love watching it. It’s a win-win!

Pink Panther, thanks for your jazzy tunes, funny style, and for being quietly cool. You may have saved my sanity. Well, at least for a little while.
April is Autism Awareness Month! A group of mommy bloggers have joined together to help spread the word about autism. Please visit these wonderful blogs!
Join us, won’t you?


Cari said...

I'm on the caffiene train with you sister! Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such wonderful comments. YES, the pink panther, brilliant! There are no words right? My guy scripts incessantly...Thomas the train, superheros, scooby doo, Cars....the worst was this past summer's Toy Story 3, in which, he had a special love for the line, "you kids get out of my butt", from Potato Head. Still makes me cringe just typing it. That was a doozy in the grocery store. Looking forward to reading more and following:)

Caffeinated Autism Mom said...

Welcome, my newest caffeinated friend! Ahhh, yes...Thomas. Prince Charming mimics everything from Thomas - from the kids singing the song in their super high-pitched kid voices, to the chug chug chug sounds. He nails it every time. It's unreal. Right now the boys are also on a Woody Woodpecker kick. I posted something about it last week entitled, "Grumpy Badger's evil twin". Otherwise, it's Thomas, Tom & Jerry, Looney Tunes and Popeye. Thank God we've moved on from some of the other ones they used to script. BTW, I'm dying over the Potato Head line! How mortifying, yet awesomely hilarious! :-) I'm glad I found your blog today, and thank you for stopping by mine!

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