“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!