The Case of The Flying Cupcake

Emma came running through door afterschool shouting, “Mom! Mom! Caleb had a bad day! He was throwing cupcakes in class!”  Emma is the one who always likes to “report” (ie: tattle) on the happenings of the school day that Mom and Dad NEED to know.  In Kindergarten Emma and Ethan were in the same class and her tattling got so bad that Ethan insisted on being in a different class than Emma for First Grade so that she wouldn’t keep getting him into trouble.

I looked at Emma and said, “What do you mean he was throwing cupcakes in class? Who told you this?” Emma proudly replied, “I found out on the bus from a kid in Caleb’s class.”  This didn’t surprise me because Caleb is a master at making messes, but I was curious to how it all came about. Since Caleb is very limited in his speech due to his Autism I was not sure how to find out what happened.

Shortly thereafter, I received an email from Caleb’s teacher with the story of the flying cupcake and fortunately, it does have a happy ending.  You see, one of the boys in Caleb’s class brought in cupcakes to share because it was his birthday.  Caleb was offered a cupcake, but he declined as he usually does.  The boy who sits across from Caleb picked out a cupcake with bright green frosting and Caleb became very excited and started pointed and making his “chirping” noise that he makes when he is happy. The birthday boy went back over to Caleb and asked him again if he would like a cupcake and Caleb answered “SSSS” (which means “yes”). He picked out one with bright green frosting like his friend had but he was nervous about touching the cupcake, so his classmate got it out for him and sat it down on Caleb’s desk.

Caleb was elated and kept looking back and forth from the cupcake on his desk to the matching cupcake on his friend’s desk and he was smiling from ear to ear.  He enjoyed it when the class sang Happy Birthday to the birthday boy and after they were through his teacher said it was cute to watch Caleb trying to figure out what to do with the cupcake. Caleb is not big on sweets and wasn’t sure what to make of the bright green frosting.  Since Caleb is mainstreamed into a General Ed Fourth Grade class, he has an aide with him at all times and so she helped Caleb by taking off the cupcake wrapper and placing the cupcake in Caleb’s hand.  Caleb was fascinated by the cupcake and studied it carefully.  Caleb’s teacher and aide and all the students in the class watched excitedly as they waited for Caleb to take his first bite.

However, when Caleb went to bring the cupcake to his mouth he panicked, screamed and chucked the cupcake sending it flying through the air.  The cupcake bounced off of the shirt of Caleb’s friend who sat across from him and landed on another classmate’s chair. 

Although Caleb had to apologize for throwing the cupcake, his teacher, aide and parents were thrilled by this chain of events. You see, when a child has Autism one of the biggest obstacles they must overcome is their lack of social skills. In Caleb’s case, he has an ever greater challenge because of his limited speech, but there are so many other social aspects involved.  Children with Autism are often described as being “in their own little world” and they don’t care or even recognize what the people around them are doing. They don’t have a desire to be around other people or interact with them and they lack imitation skills.  

Caleb’s social skills have increased so much over the last few years and he not only can tolerate being with other children, but he actually will seek out ways to fit in and be part of a group. His desire to have a cupcake with green frosting, just like his friend, and his willingness to venture out of his comfort zone and attempt to eat it was a HUGE accomplishment for Caleb. We are so excited that he is making such great progress and are thankful for all the ways Caleb’s teacher and classmates encourage Caleb and celebrate his progress …. even when it involves flying cupcakes!

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Froggy’s Great Escape

I was lying on a beach enjoying the warm sunshine and the feeling of sand between my toes.  I could hear the waves crashing on the shore.  The sun was shining brightly and there was a light breeze blowing across my body.   I heard a loud crash and then a huge splash of water and was jolted out of dreamland and into reality-land.  Talk about a rude awakening!  I realized that the crash and splash were “real” and that they came from downstairs. I could also hear Caleb squealing and laughing with delight. 

What was that?  It sounded like an awful lot of water or some sort of liquid … what has Caleb gotten into this time?   Caleb is a pro at destruction and loves to see what happens when he throws things up in the air and lets them fall (or crash) to the ground.  My mind was racing with all the possible things that could have created these sounds as I ran down the stairs to find Caleb jumping up and down with excitement. He looked at me and stopped and then looked over at the kitchen sink. I walked over to the sink to find our pet frog, Froggy, had been “set free”.

Froggy has been in our family since last February.  He is one of those itty bitty frogs you may have seen at the Hallmark store that come in a little glass cube filled with water and a little bit of aquarium rock in the bottom.  This is not the first time Caleb has tried to help Froggy escape … there have been multiple other attempts to help Froggy gain his freedom, but none that had ended as badly as this time.   This plan of escape involved Caleb tipping Froggy’s glass cube over into the kitchen sink and unfortunately  when all the water went down the drain so did Froggy.  I looked down and could see Froggy frantically jumping around in the garbage disposal.

“Caleb!” I yelled. “What did you do that for?  Why did you knock over the frog?”  Obviously Caleb didn’t answer but neither do my three other children half the time (especially if they are afraid the answer will just get them into more trouble).  Caleb was still smiling and seemed to find the whole ordeal quite entertaining.  I reached down and saved Froggy from the garbage disposal and put him back into his cage.   I added clean water and tried to get most of the aquarium rock out of the garbage disposal so that it wouldn’t ruin it next time I turned it on.

Emma came downstairs later and said, “Oh, you cleaned Froggy’s cage!”  She had been asking me to clean it for several weeks and seemed happy that I finally got around to doing it.  I laughed and said, “Yes, I did clean his cage, but only because Caleb about killed the poor little Froggy when he dumped him into the garbage disposal!”  Emma was relieved that Froggy was OK and she made sure to give him a few extra pieces of frog food to help Froggy deal with the stress and trauma caused by all the excitement of the morning.   

Why did Caleb tip over the cage and set Froggy free? 

Did he hear Emma and I talking earlier in the week about Froggy’s cage needing to be clean and think he could help? 

Did he just want to see what would happen if he tipped over the cube filled with water? 

Was he trying to get Froggy out to play? 

I am not sure why he did it but I was relieved to find out that the majority of the water went into the sink and not on the floor. I was also thankful that it was water and not something sticky like Sprite that had been spilled.

Another plus :  Caleb did not turn the garbage disposal ON!  (Wow – that would have been messy!)