There are certain elements of Autism and OCD that can become quite frustrating at times. For Jackson, it can be his hyper-focus or desire on a specific food. When he is hyper-focused on a specified food, he will request (potentially 100 times a day) it virtually every day. His two most dominant meal obsessions are (1) spaghetti, cheese, and garlic bread and also (2) KFC. While both meals may be enjoyable on occasion for his parents, neither can be enjoyed multiple days in a row.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good pasta meal with parmesan cheese and garlic bread? Most people do but, the metabolism of a teenager is far different than that of his middle-aged parents (ok older parents). If we were to carb-load in this fashion, we would both quickly hit the 300-pound mark. Nonetheless, Jackson would eat it every day of the week. Then, there is KFC. Good old Kentucky Fried Chicken. Who doesn’t like Colonel Sanders? He is an American Icon. But again, while Jackson would love to indulge in KFC multiple times a day seven days a week, I must limit myself to once or twice a month or risk a severe digestive revolt.
While this hyper food focus can be extremely challenging, it can also be a beneficial tool in helping Jackson through a difficult time. We (like many parents) encounter difficult days when Jackson is upset and agitated for no apparent reason. Regardless of how hard we try to understand what is causing the agitation or attempt to redirect his focus, in the end, it is just one of those rough days that we need to manage through. That said, good old Colonel Sanders has proven to be a knight in shiny armor for us at times. KFC has been the calming force at times in overcoming or redirecting away from the agitation.
Unfortunately, recently that knight in shiny armor became one of my worst nightmares. Jackson was having a very rough day. I decided to use the KFC card in an attempt to calm his spirits. We both loaded into the car and drove to pick it up. As we waited in the drive-thru line, Jackson’s agitation level had lowered significantly. We pulled up to the menu board and placed his traditional order (K10 mean with all original legs, double mashed potatoes and gravy, and a large sierra mist). It was at this moment that my admiration for the Colonel turned to hatred. A voice came back to me over the speaker informing me that they were all out of chicken. The name of the place is Kentucky Fried Chicken. How do they run out of chicken? What do I say to Jackson? How do I explain to him that the chicken restaurant is chicken less?
Jackson’s initial response was exactly as anticipated. However, we then turned the situation into a game and searched a different KFC in the car’s navigation system. We located another one 12 miles away – so the adventure was on. Ultimately, Jackson obtained the food he so much desired, and he had a much better afternoon. The downside though…….he now only wants to go to the KFC 12 miles away from where he trusts there will be chicken.
So what to do. Enjoy the car ride with my boy don't sweat the small stuff and of course, bring the Pepto-Bismol because who can turn down KFC even if your stomach has aged out of it.
photo of KFC
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.