Here’s just a peek at the life of a family living with autism…
My son, Cody, has been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, Sensory Perception Disorder, Dysphagia, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Anxiety, PTSD and about 5 or 6 more difficult-to-say issues.Â On a weekly basis, we are running to many appointments such as: counseling, group counseling (to help with social skills), speech therapy, occupational therapy and doctorsâ€™ appointments! Never a dull moment in our home. Got the idea? I bet you don’t!!
Tuesday was a snow day for the local public school which my son attends. His sister, however, is homeschooled and has school regardless of whether the public schools cancel. So while she’s hitting her classes, I decided to occupy “boychild” with the iPad and had him working with some apps doing math, science, and articulation. He was quiet as a little church mouse. Yay! Christina completed her work and I let the kids watch a movie. Â Everything was amazing. On Tuesday.
Now let’s fast forward to Wednesday….
School is on for the day. Our normal routine goes something like this: At 7 am, I wake up and get Cody up. He is supposed to go to the restroom, then go back in his room to change into school clothes. Then back to the restroom to brush his teeth, wash his face and comb his hair. Then it’s time to get his medications, put shoes on and get bundled up for the bus ride to school. This is our EVERY SCHOOL DAY ROUTINE. Should be pretty easy, right? Well, not in the life of an autistic kid.
Here’s how it REALLY played out: I woke him up at 7 am. He got up and went to the restroom. He then went back to his room to (I thought) get dressed. After about 15 minutes, it dawned on me that I hadn’t heard him come back out of his room. So I went to check on him. He’s sitting on his floor still in his pajamas. Bus is due to be here in 25 minutes. I asked him what he was doing. He answered “Nothing.” Â I said “I know. Please get dressed for school. Your bus is going to be here in about 20 minutes.” Â (With an autistic child, you always want to leave yourself some “wiggle room.”) I closed his door and walked to the kitchen. Five minutes later, he still hadn’t come out of his room. So back I went. I tried to open his door and found it wouldn’t open more than an inch or two. Why? Because he had wedged his trash can up against it. I forced the door open and he’s sitting on his bed in his PJ top and undies. As he saw me, he real quick jerked on his jeans and grinned at me. At this point, I’m starting a slow rolling boil.
I told him he now had 15 minutes to get his shirt changed, brush his teeth and finish getting ready. (Always remind an autistic kid what he still needs to do and keep him posted on time.) I shut the door again. Five more minutes passed. I opened the door to find him slowly unbuttoning his PJ top. I asked him why he was moving so slow. “I don’t know.” Â Now this is my absolutely “favorite” phrase in the whole world. NOT! So I stood there and watched him this time. Again, 15 minutes until his bus was due.
He decided to get dressed, finally. I stepped out of the doorway so he could walk past to head to the restroom to brush his teeth and everything else he needed to do. Now, when he’s in a mood like this, the “getting dressed” part is the most challenging and time-consuming of the battle. So I went to the kitchen to start coffee and was silently praying he wouldn’t miss the bus. Any parent can relate to that one, right?
Tuning back into his movements, I heard not the sound of teeth being brushed or water running… I heard singing. *groan* So off to the restroom I marched. And yes, I was marching because the slow rolling boil was starting to become a full boil. I opened the door and he’s quickly putting his toothbrush under the running water. I never saw a kid brush his teeth as fast as he did. He did everything he needed to do and sauntered (yes, sauntered) past me into the hall. *grrrrrrr* Ten minutes left.
Into the kitchen we went to get his meds. No problem there. I then told him to get his sneakers on. He sat down on the floor and decided it was time to act like a puppy. I told him he had one minute to get his shoes on. At this point, he flipped out. He picked up his shoe and threw it. Our cat just happened to be walking by him. Cody kicked out at him. The cat took off running. I had had enough. I went over, picked him up off the floor and told him that he was to NEVER try to hurt the cat or anyone again. He started screaming and ran off to his room. “I hate you!” Nothing can cut through a parent’s heart like those three words.
I let him go for a few minutes so he would calm down. Then I walked back to his room and opened the door. I asked him if he was done yet. “YES!” he yelled. I told him he now had about two minutes before the bus would be here. He stomped past me, put on his shoes and bundled up. The whole time, he looked like he wanted to hurt someone. I reminded him that at school and at home, he is supposed to behave himself. I also told him that I did NOT want to receive a phone call from school. “FINE!”
The bus showed up then. He threw the door open and stomped out to the bus, still glowering. He flopped down in his seat while the driver was looking at me like “What the…?” As she put it in gear, he blew one very angry kiss at me. I blew him a kiss back and smiled. Â No matter how he acts, he is my child and I love him.Â Yes, it still stung that he said what he did. Was I an emotional wreck all day? You betcha. But I have to remind myself this: it’s not Cody saying these things or acting this way. It’s the autism.
He had counseling last night and the issue was addressed. I came home from his appointment and made him some sight cards to help him remember what the steps are he is to perform every morning to get ready for school. Let’s just say his response when I walked him through the cards was horror. “You’re treating me like a baby, Mom!” I said no… I am helping you remember what you need to do since you seem to forget and want to play around.
Keep in mind, we already have a list taped to his bedroom and the bathroom wall. I woke him up this morning and as he was walking past me out of his room, I handed him the ring of cards. He came out of the bathroom and handed them to me and told me he was going to follow the list on the wall. No problems this morning.
And THIS is a day in the life.