"I'm a secret agent!" So says Ethan as he cleans his room. All I really wanted was for him to make his bed but I wasn't sure how I was going to get him to do it. I started by asking him to pick up items one at a time and put them back on his bed while I tried to think of the best way to explain putting a flat sheet and blanket on a bed to a six year old. I got as far as getting him to put his pillow back on his bed when he grabbed his sheet and threw himself on his bed saying, "I'm making a person's bed!" His first attempt ended up with him under the sheet. But he kept trying all the while saying, "I'm making a person's bed!"
While he was doing this I had to go check on Ethan's brother and sister. When I got back to Ethan's room I found that he had made his bed (putting his flat sheet and blanket on sideways), put his books back on his bookshelf, and put away several of the toys that had been lurking about in his room. As he did this all unprompted and unsupervised I was more than a little impressed. I let Ethan know what a great job he had done and tried to get him to get into bed so I could read him his bedtime book. But Ethan wasn't done with cleaning his room. As he went from one spot to another he kept saying, "I'm cleaning a person's room." I tried telling him that he was cleaning his own room but that didn't seem to stick. Then he said, "I'm a secret agent. I'm cleaning a person's room."
It took me awhile to figure out what the connection between cleaning his room and being a secret agent was but I think it comes from one his Veggie Tales DVDs. The newer DVDs have lots of extra features and in one of them I think there is a demonstration of a secret agent game that involves secretly doing chores for others.
After a while Ethan got a spare blanket out of his closet and declared, "I'm doing laundry." He shook the blanket out and tried to fold it while standing which resulted in him getting wrapped up in the blanket. Then he laid it out flat on the floor and did a pretty good job of folding the blanket that way. All the while proclaiming, "I'm doing laundry." After finding just the right resting place for the blanket (his work table) Ethan said, "Mom hates doing laundry." I don't hate doing laundry so much as I hate having to do it all the time. I was sitting on his bed grinning broadly while trying not to disturb his diligent work.
Ethan tried to man handle a toy box back into his closet but couldn't it to fit and he didn't me to help him with it. He settled for putting it behind his bedroom door. I told him he wouldn't be able to open his door with the toy box behind it but he didn't seem to mind. I eventually talked him into stacking the laundry basket on top of the toy box so that he block his door. Ethan was still working on cleaning his room when I came down to write this. His room usually doesn't get as clean as it is right now unless grandma comes to visit. Grandma has powerful cleaning powers far beyond anything I could ever hope to possess.
How many kids would pass up having mom read them a bedtime story to voluntarily clean their rooms! I always knew that the desire for order and sameness that is often so strong in many autistic individuals could be harnessed for the good of all housewifery (or at least my little bit of housewifery). Now thanks to Veggie Tales Ethan has taken an interest in being a "secret agent" and cleaning his room. I wonder what I'll find when I go back up to his room to put the lights out. He's currently blasting his Prince of Egypt CD again (after 9:00 PM, the neighbours must be so thrilled, at least its not death metal, yet) so he might be done cleaning.