Little Comedian

14 Sep

“Mom, do you want to hear a construction joke?” asks my then 9-year-old Aspie.  “Sure!” I say indulgently.  “Hmmm….I’m still working on it.” he says, with perfect deadpan delivery.  I pause a moment, waiting… and then burst out laughing!  I never saw that one coming….very funny!

Shortly after figuring out Greg’s diagnosis, I read that among the many challenges faced by Aspie’s, being too literal and social deficiencies are typical.  After giving these issues some thought, I decided to implement a Joke of the Day program.  My objectives were three-fold:  1) Send a little ‘love note’ for my son to find during his school day; 2) Use jokes to encourage him to think ‘outside the box’ and not see only the literal interpretation; and 3) Give him a tool to grease the wheels of social interaction with his peers.

So I went about pulling together all sorts of cute, simple, kid-appropriate jokes.  I typed them up, and then printed them out on slips of paper. (I made 2 copies, because I decided to include my older son in on the project too.  My daughter couldn’t read yet… much to her chagrin!)  Then, each morning I took one joke slip each, folded it up and put it into their lunch boxes.  Gregory and Daniel often wanted to check out the joke ahead of time, but I always made them wait until snack or lunchtime…building the anticipation, just like any great raconteur!  I suggested that after they read the joke themselves, they should try it out on their classmates.  And later over the dinner table, I would ask one of the boys to tell us the Joke of the Day.  This meant that they got to practice their joke telling skills and we could then explain it, if the ‘funny’ aspect wasn’t clear to their literal minds.  “Ohhhhh…I GET it!”

It started out a little slow, but within a couple of weeks, my boys were clamoring to see what the next Joke of the Day was.  As hoped, Greg started to tell the joke during snack to the kids around his desk.  I guess the laughs started getting attention, because before long, snack time found Gregory standing in front of his 3rd grade classroom, clearing his throat and waiting for quiet (luckily the teacher was supportive!)  It became part of the daily snack ritual for Greg to tell a joke to the entire class – to mutual groans or giggles – and the kids started asking him for it.   This was all great, until I forgot to include a joke one morning….doh!  (Greg gave me a firm ‘talking to’ that afternoon, let me tell you!)  Apparently, the class was very disappointed until Greg saved the day by resurrecting some ‘old material’ (thank goodness for his fabulous memory!)   He was able to offer his classmates their daily chuckle, in spite of my failing!

At the playground after school, I would smile to myself when I would hear one kid telling another kid my Joke of the Day!  Sometimes the joke didn’t quite make the translation….sort of like that old “Telephone Game”, but it did show my plan was working.  One mother even told me that her child was upset that she didn’t get a Joke of the Day in her lunchbox too!  Clearly we were on to something…

What I hadn’t anticipated was how well Greg took to it….he is a natural joke teller (who knew?)  His timing and delivery are spot on, and he frequently incorporates different voices, accents or inflections to add to the comedic value.  He is really very funny.  My little comedian was born! 

Greg doesn’t rely on my meager offerings anymore.  Now, he reads joke books all the time, gathering his own material, in order to regale his classmates and family members with impromptu ‘stand up’ on a daily basis.  He loves making people laugh and has gained a bit of fame and status among his peers for his comedic prowess.  Gregory has also expanded his repertoire to include not just jokes, but funny stories and tv show scenarios too (along with all the applicable voices, of course!)   These days, some boys actually vie to sit with him at lunch, because as the kids tell their mothers (who in turn tell me), “He is so funny!”

I’m thrilled that my informal ‘curriculum’ has proven so successful.  It has enabled Greg to expand his mindset to see alternate interpretations to a phrase or situation.  It has enabled him to lighten up and not take himself (or life!) too seriously.  It has laid a ground work for successful social interaction and it has given him a source of success and self-esteem.  Objectives met!

So with that, I’ll leave you with today’s Joke of the Day:  Did you hear the one about the clown fish?  Or is it a mollusk?  Oh darn….I forget…   Oh well, as my husband will tell you, I am the worst joke teller ever –  I’d best leave the funnies to my little comedian!

P.S.  If you would like a copy of my jokes to start a Joke of the Day program of your own, please let me know….I’m happy to share!  They are corny, but effective!

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17 Responses to “Little Comedian”

  1. Laurie September 14, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    What a fantastic idea! I love reading your blog. My children are a bit older and are constantly telling me that my jokes are not funny, so maybe if I start including a joke a day in their lunch bags, they’ll start making their own lunches! :-)

    • Joanne Houldsworth September 14, 2010 at 11:46 am #

      Thanks Laurie…..Make their own lunches – yeah, that IS a joke! :-)

  2. ankhoneirosinfinitus September 15, 2010 at 4:55 am #

    In various jobs I’ve had, I’ve become a minor celebrity over the years around where I live because I always made it a goal to leave people laughing or at least smiling when they left the building. Humor is a great way to make a positive impression on someone, and the literal mindset of an aspie is very fertile ground for jokes, especially since most people don’t think that way.

    This is a great lesson you’re teaching your son. I’m sure it will make things much easier on him socially, and a sense of humor is a great way to cope with life’s difficulties.

    • Joanne Houldsworth September 15, 2010 at 7:46 am #

      You are so right Ankh! My husband is a great joke-teller too and used the skill often at work. Since I’m so bad at jokes, I always admire those that can do so successfully – a very powerful tool!

  3. 2zpoint September 25, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    Humor is my favorite medicine the only trouble is I think its addictive because I can’t stop, I don’t want to, and it makes me feel good!LOL! Your jokes seem to be the perfect way for your son to get along in school. It is far better for the kids to laugh with him than at him. Some times kids can be mean. I love the positive direction and the creative way you have helped him get along!

  4. Regan Clem March 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    I was looking for a joke to use in writing a sermon on people being too literal. I didn’t find that joke here. But I found a great story. What a wonderful parent you are. And what a wonderful boy you are developing. Grace and peace.

    • Joanne Houldsworth March 23, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words, Regan. Best wishes to you…
      Joanne

  5. Amber March 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    I just discovered your blog. If you still have it, I would love a copy of your jokes. My nephew is an Aspie & just got an email address. I thought it would be great to email him a joke every day.

    Your story was great! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Joanne Houldsworth March 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

      Sure, Amber. I am happy to send them to you. Good luck to you and your nephew!
      Joanne

  6. Marie r April 6, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    I’d love a copy of your jokes. we are using the joke idea with our child too and it is helping but mom is running out of jokes:)
    Thank you

    • Joanne Houldsworth April 6, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

      Of course Marie…I’ll email them to you directly. Enjoy! Joanne

  7. Jenn June 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I just discovered your blog today while researching about Asperger’s syndrome. Our 8 year old son was diagnosed with AS 2 months ago. Like Greg, our son is our little comedian. I recently gave him a small notepad that he brings along with him, he writes down jokes that he himself thought of. I promised him that when he has compiled a number of jokes, i’ll make him his own joke book :) i would love to get your jokes of the day and share it with my son.

    • Joanne Houldsworth June 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      Your son sounds wonderful, Jenn! And what a great way to support his interest… Yes, I would be happy to share some of our Joke of the Day jokes with you. I warn you – they are corny, but good for that age group I think. I will email to you directly.

      And fear not, an AS diagnosis is definitely not doom-and-gloom. Gregory (now 12) is doing great these days. In fact, he just gave a hugely successful speech to 80+ people in the Pediatrics Department of Hackensack University Medical Center. And….he included an ad lib joke in his talk! ;-)

      Good luck on your journey! Joanne

  8. Kerri September 3, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Hi Joanne,
    I just found your blog, and I have to say, it has enlightened me, made me laugh, made me cry (in all the best ways) and given me encouragement. My son was diagnosed with AS a year ago at age 6. He’s just starting Grade 2 and is anxious, but excited. I wanted to do a joke of the day last year, but struggled finding good kid jokes. I’d love to get my hands on your “Joke a Day” jokes for Wyatt’s lunchbox.
    And let Gregory know that his video interview was wonderful and it truly helped me to see things through your sons’s eyes, and hopefully a little more clearly through MY son’s eyes.
    Thank you!

    • Joanne Houldsworth September 3, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

      I am so pleased that the blog was able to move and inspire you, Kerri! I’ll pass along your comments to Greg – I know he’ll smile… I’m sending the jokes to your email. Good luck with your Jokes of the Day!
      Joanne

  9. Allison October 8, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Hi Joanne,

    I stumbled upon your blog after researching for my own son Noah who only a few months ago at age 10 was diagnosed with AS. I have been struggling with it all and felt I could relate to what you were writing regarding your son. My son too is a “little comedian” & I have often felt if they saw what I could see they might really get him. I would love to implement the “Joke of the day”. What a great idea and a great ice breaker with the other kids!

    • Joanne Houldsworth October 9, 2012 at 7:02 am #

      Hi Allison,
      The Joke of the Day program proved hugely successful. My son really found his calling, as now he loves being in front of an audience: to make a speech, sing or act! I’ll send you the jokes via email. Good luck to you and Noah!
      Joanne

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