So, here’s the thing about being a parent of a child with “High Functioning” Autism….
I wish people understood.
I wish they understood the battle. The daily fight that occurs before we arrive at any given place. Then maybe, just maybe, they would be able to understand why I am always on edge and perpetually exhausted. Maybe then they would have a better understanding of why I don’t care (unless it’s mid-summer) where my kids’ shoes are.
I get it. My kid can put on a show. We know this. Although, as he gets older it does seem to be more difficult for him to hide because the differences are becoming more apparent. I know when you meet him you see a kid who is quiet, well behaved and excited to be part of the group. I get that it takes getting to know him and spending time with him before you can glimpse into our world. “He’s fine,” you say, as you wonder why I seem overly concerned. “He’s SO good!” You say and wonder about a comment I made about our difficult day. But what most people don’t understand is that in order to get to the moment they see, we’ve already waged full-on battle at home. Let me share an example…
Going to church
His teachers love him. They always do. “He’s so sweet and good!” For this I am glad, I truly am. But usually, after I have battled him, I battle myself and wonder if I should have flown the white flag and stayed home. Was it worth it?
Getting dressed… Just because we’ve worn the shirt 50 times just fine does not mean it’s not going to be itchy, too big, too small or simply the wrong color today. There is no precedence to the crimes committed by clothing. Believe me, if there were rules…I could dance that dance. But there aren’t rules. Don’t even get me started on the evils of socks and shoes.
Then, there is the breakfast battle. It’s not what he eats, but how much. Usually, around third breakfast, he is banned from the kitchen (no joke, I have considered a locking fridge) it’s non-stop and it’s obsessive behavior. By now, we are usually in a ball crying because he has realized my intention is to take him outside of the house. “BUT I DON’T NEED TO BRUSH MY TEETH!” Sorry, $1500 in dental work states otherwise, kid. No deal, negotiations over, the line is drawn.
I am already tired. Not to mention, 4-year-old Monkey with his own temper and opinions has stripped and been reclothed at least four times by now. Throw in some brotherly squabbling, hitting and possibly some biting and we have a fairly typical morning.
Today’s outing (church) is a treat… Spring Festival. Which means today Mr. Man does not need to suffer through the torture that is Worship. He hates this and it would mean certain death if it wasn’t for our ever handy noise canceling headphones– which we managed to misplace the week before (THAT was a bad morning!) The kids get to enjoy bounce houses, face painting, balloon animals and popsicles.
However, this change in routine has confused him and he leaves his class no less than three times to come get me during service. The teachers (who are just outside the door and are still getting to know him) seem confused by my concern that he has interrupted service. It’s not the interruption that concerns me, but that he has left without telling anyone. Yes, he seems like all the other kids for the most part. But, please be aware, when confused he becomes a flight risk.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not upset with the teachers. Most 6-year-olds do not require this level of supervision. However, Mr. Man lacks an understanding of cause and effect. He is impulsive. He does and does not think. He appears to understand directions (but if you gave more than one, he doesn’t) and they are not yet in tune with him. You can see why I am always a bit on edge. Most people aren’t as tuned into him as I am. I think “High Functioning” often causes people to overestimate his understanding and underestimate the need for diligence.
I have now spent the service thinking about morning combat, his flight risk, and the effort it takes to pretend everything is “Great!”
So yes, I did just go into life-saving action to spare balloon Spiderman from an untimely death by blade of grass.
Nope, I am still not concerned that his shoes are AWOL.
(BTW- I keep extras in the car.)
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