Within the last few months, Jack has become very interested in fire, fire fighters, fire trucks, fire alarms, smoke alarms, fire departments...I think you get the idea. And by "very" interested, I mean - that's all he talks about. Anyone with a kid on the autism spectrum knows that when your kid becomes interested in something, it quickly moves from interest to obsession. His MOPS class was recently visited by the fire truck and fireman and he absolutely loved it. Then his preschool class was also visited by the same fire truck and fireman! And then they had an accidental fire alarm at school. (Yeah. Awesome. They were fixing the roof and accidentally set off the alarm.) And then our smoke detector went off at home (more on that later). But, the thing is, he also has a little bit of fear surrounding the loud noises that come with fire trucks/fire fighters/fire alarms, etc. So with that fear comes the constant talking to reduce his anxiety. We drive by our local fire station quite often and there is a big banner outside the building that reminds people to change the batteries in their smoke detectors. On the sign, it reads "beep, beep, beep!" Here is an example of what Jack might say every time we drive past this sign -
"Mommy, do you see that sign? It says "beep, beep, beep" because that's the sound that the smoke alarm makes when there's a fire. I want to practice when there's a fire at our house and I can crawl down low and feel the door with the back of my hand and you can press the button on the smoke detector and we can practice. Is there a fire truck outside? If there is a real fire at our house the fire truck will come to our house and they will put the fire out and they will park the fire truck by our house. Is that what our smoke alarm says? Beep, beep, beep? That's what the sign says because that's what the smoke alarm says. Why does the sign say "beep beep beep?" Why does it say that? Can we go to the fire station and look at the fire trucks and spray the hoses and talk to the firemen? Can we go now? Please mommy? I want to go to the fire station now. Why can't we go now? You have to tell me why. I want to go now. I want to go to the fire station now."
Again, I am so thankful for his verbal skills, but it is exhausting!
So...back to the smoke detector going off at home. Yesterday the fire alarm went off accidentally at school. His special ed teacher let us know that it happened and said that Jack handled it really well. He covered his ears and they went outside and then they went back in and talked about it. Jack talked about it all evening. :) This morning, while I was getting ready in the bathroom, Jack was talking to me about the smoke detector that's in our hallway, right outside the bathroom door. He was asking me if I could "test" it and make it beep. He's been making this request a lot lately - Lonnie had just "tested" it for him last night, so I told him that I wouldn't be testing it this morning - we already knew that it worked fine. So, Jack talked about the smoke detector a little longer and then just kind of stood there as I was still getting ready in the bathroom. No more than 2 minutes after our conversation, the smoke detector went off! WEIRD. Normal, smoke alarm beeping. Not the "dead battery" beep, but a regular, going off beeping. Poor Jack jumped out of his skin, started crying and yelling and RAN to the garage door. I turned the alarm off and reassured him that there wasn't a fire and that we were OK. He kept saying "I thought there was a real fire in our house." Poor kid! We took the battery out of the smoke detector just to reassure him that it wouldn't go off again. But, honestly, why in the world did it go off just minutes after him talking about "testing" it? So so so so so strange.
My dad is a retired firefighter (currently he's teaching), so I think he'll be pretty happy to know about Jack's new obsession. Maybe he'll have some connections so we can get Jack a ride in a fire truck one of these days. :)