Today’s post is something a little different! I put out a Tweet on my Twitter asking for anyone who wanted to share their stories of living with neurodiversity. Shelby reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in sharing her family’s story of being parents to a child with Autism.
I was definitely wanting to feature this story! The views from parents are rarely heard so this was important for me to include in my guest posts.
If you would like to share your story of living with conditions such as ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia or other conditions that are less spoken about, then please contact me via Twitter!!
I praise my 10 year old for pushing the cart correctly in the store. I get an odd look or two. I take his hand as we cross through the parking lot. More stares. Moose is oblivious, and happily takes my hand. He can talk and do his chores and can let me know when he needs time alone because he’s over stimulated. There is no hand flapping or outward signs that he’s different. I protect him from the stares. This is my life as a mother of a high functioning autistic child.
Moose goes to a “regular” school where they make adjustments for him so that he can prosper in a normal classroom. We are very lucky with the school that he goes to. It’s a STEAM school (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) and they get special funding – which means there is a lot more money there to be spent on the students, and it is. The school isn’t fussy looking, and you don’t see the money until you go into the classrooms or go to a school program.
He has special headphones where the classwork and tests are read aloud to him slowly, so that he doesn’t rush through. Lots of small group work and the students have the choice of doing homework on paper or on the computer. They have a wonderful resource room where he spends an hour a day, and every Monday, he has lunch with other special kids where they have a guided open discussion.
I worry while he’s in school. I worry that some children will take advantage of his sweet nature. He is the type of child that would give you his jacket in the middle of a snowstorm because you said you liked it. Things are just that to him – things. Even if it’s his favorite stuffed animal, he would be sad, but give it to you to make you happy. I worry when he goes to the small park behind our apartment building, that the kids that play there will make fun of him or coerce him into doing things.
I am also frustrated.
Home routines are supposed to be just that – routine. I have brightly colored lists everywhere, yet they aren’t routine, except for the daily routine of what we go through. I want to scream and yell and cry when day after day, week after week – I must give him exact, one step at a time, directions for what he needs to be doing. Get out of bed, go pee, come eat breakfast and take your morning pills. Now it’s time to brush your teeth. Brush your teeth. Moose! BRUSH. YOUR. TEETH. No, don’t put your mouth over the cabinet knob, that’s not safe! Please go get dressed. DRESSED. You can’t wear shorts – it’s snowing outside. I can’t ask him to put shoes on just yet, because it isn’t time to go. It’s time to make his lunch. We’ve started having him make his own lunch, and it takes 10 minutes for him to make a sandwich – bread, roast beef and cheese, no condiments – grab an apple, a yogurt and a string cheese. We notice that he didn’t empty his backpack because there’s only one cold pack in the freezer. It’s time for him to go to the bus. Shoes, gloves, jacket, hat, backpack. Always in that order, never different.
I spend the day at work and on school work of my own. We try to figure out what we can do to help Moose as he is getting older and has different needs than he did before. I have lists of things to buy that might help. I cry because there’s help that we can’t afford the co-pay for, or we don’t qualify for because he can do things on his own, that we can’t get because they don’t take our insurance.
He’s home. It’s a fight to get him to do his homework when he has it because he doesn’t see the point of it. He says he doesn’t have any homework – which is true, but he has been given “study work” to do. We don’t find out about study work until nearly a month after his teacher has started assigning it. It’s not homework because the work itself isn’t graded, the students get points for just doing it. Moose figures he doesn’t have to do it, since it isn’t homework. So now we have to be sure to ask him if he has any homework or study work.
It’s time to get ready for bed. Take your jammies and undies in the bathroom with you. Yes, those ones match. It’s ok if they don’t. Yes baby, they match, I promise. Make sure he has his goggles to wash his hair while in the shower. I can’t get distracted while he’s in the shower, because he will spend hours in there if we think he’ll wash and get out on his own. It’s cold, I know. Dry off and put your jammies on, you’ll warm up. No, you can’t just wrap up in your blankets, that’s why we have you take your jammies in the bathroom, go back into the bathroom please. If you would just dry off you’ll warm up! Brush teeth, wash face (with a face wipe, it’s too scary to put his face in water while in the shower), face lotion. Sleepy lotion on arms and belly. Always in that order, never different. Take bedtime pills, everything is fire, lava, magma – unless you have to pee. Goodnight, you’re my favorite, and I love you big bunches. We do this every week day.
It’s the weekend. We’ve forgotten to latch the locks on the fridge, and Moose has eaten an entire loaf of specialty bread and drank a six pack of soda before six am. The cheese I bought specifically for supper is also gone. The evidence is hidden under his bed. He doesn’t have a reason for doing what he did, he just did.
On Saturdays, we clean and do chores, Sunday is for fun and rest. Moose has his chores – taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, cleaning his room and cleaning his hamster’s cage. Check your bathroom trash, if it’s got trash in it, bring it out. Now the office. Mommy and Daddy’s bathroom. Is that all of it? Good. Moose, you can carry the bag and that small box at the same time. Doesn’t it make sense to make less trips? Of course! Ok bud, thank you! We do this with every chore. Step by step, never giving more than one very clear direction at a time. We do this every weekend.
It’s time to do the weekly grocery shopping.
I take my ten year old’s hand to cross through the parking lot.
There are stares.