Having a Child with Down Syndrome, Part LXXXVIII, Perseveration

Copyright © 2015 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.

Perseveration. Yeah. I don’t know if this is a Down syndrome thing or an Alice thing. Alice perseverates on things. It’s not always predictable, but when it happens it’s endless. You know how your typical kid gets a copy of the most recent Disney/Pixar movie and watches it again and again? You know how you used to like Frozen until you started to swear that if your heard “Let It Go” one more time, blood would flow from your ears? Yeah. That’s nothing.


This is Alice on the Monday after Hallowe’en. She immediately focused on Christmas and Thanksgiving. “Thanksgiving is on Thursday?” “Not this Thursday, Alice.” “Is on Thursday?” “In more than three weeks, Alice.” “Then Christmas?” “That’s in December. It’s November.” “Is Thanksgiving on Thursday?” “No, on this day. (pointing to the calendar) This day is Thursday this week and then you go this many weeks until Thanksgiving.” “And then Christmas?”

At this point, E and I have discussions about when we are going to reveal treats. On the one hand, we like to reward the kids and to let them know when something fun is coming up. On the other hand, we don’t want to mention something earlier than when we want to hear about it day in and day out from Alice.

Still, I can take advantage of perseveration. The school bus arrives at around 7:15. We need to step back 5 minutes for putting on shoes and coat, and then a loose 5-10 minutes for reward time, then a half hour for self-care, then 20 minutes for breakfast. Than means that Alice needs to get up at 6:00. I go into her room and give her a nudge. “Today is Monday?” “Yes, Alice.” “Is school day?” “Yes, Alice.” “Is home day?” “No, Alice.” Now, I don’t know how you get your kids out of bed, but with Alice, I’ve found that I can stand back and say, “I’m waiting for my morning hug!” and that will get her out of bed.

Patterns. Alice likes consistent patterns with predictability. Alice likes the same things, again and again. Alice is so worried about this that she perseverates and asks the same questions again and again. It’s hard to maintain patience and then responses like, “How many times do I have to answer that?” slip out. Oddly enough, Alice has a stock response to that rhetorical question. “FIVE.” Slightly more constructively, I can instead try, “Alice, did you ask this question already?” “Yes.” “Did I answer it?” “Yes” Then asked and answered.”

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