Monday, April 4, 2011

The Maddening Messes of Autism

There really isn't anything funny about autism. The two a.m. wake up calls, the continual advocacy efforts, the behaviors, the stress of finding quality care so you might enjoy a night out with your spouse. And that is the short list. So, I like to find the hidden humor in it all, whenever I possibly can.

 There is one thing that always does strike me as funny. Especially because I have 100 percent, self-diagnosed, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I like things neat. I spend a ridiculous amount of time attempting to keep things neat. I have three young children. Why would I torture myself so you ask?  Because I am straight up OCD!

So here is the funny part. Children with autism are NOT NEAT. I could tell you stories that would make you retch, but I won't. I will keep it simple and light. But you autism momma's out there know what I am talking about, when I say stories that would make you forever grateful that you yourself had only a "typically" messy child.

Let us start with a story I heard from my sister, who used to work with families that have children with autism. There was this boy I will call "C". He loved to drink Kool-aid, and lots of it. So one day he figures he will try his hand at fixing himself some. So C finds the sugar, a couple 5 pound bags I believe. He opens and pours the bags onto the kitchen floor. Then he manages to find the packs of Kool-aid, empties them on the floor too, all in one massive heap. Then C gets two sticks of butter opens them and places them atop the mountain, I guess just for good measure. This happened almost ten years ago and my sister still recounts this, usually after I tell her about one of Ethan's recent masterpieces.

My stories always revolve around food. Ethan likes to take one bite of food, for every two to three
bites he mashes and then drops to the floor or chair. No lie, each and every time he attempts to get up from the dinner table, either his dad or I rush him like a linebacker, in an attempt to brush whatever mess he has on him off, so he does not carry it about the house. My five year old typical son, having lived this way most of his life, has been known to yell, "No Ethan.....wait for Mom!"

I had a contractor at the house a few months ago fixing the door directly behind Ethan's dining room chair. This man happened to be here after I fed Ethan lunch. He looked at me then back at the mess and asked, "Is that from one child?" Yes I said, ONE child after ONE meal. He just shook his head and muttered, "holy __"

Ethan also likes gum, alot. So I allow him to chew gum, which I find stuck in places I did not know he even cared to go. Like behind the couch, stuck on every shoe we have, on most toys, inside my cupboards, etc. I have become masterful in getting gum out of rugs and off shoes. I have experimented with many types of gum, hoping that I will discover a brand that is "less sticky."  Kinda
stupid I know..... ALL gum is STICKY!

But honestly the ultimate joke is on me. These mega mess catastrophies have really challenged me to relax my standards, and overcome my OCD to the best of my ability. Can't say I am there yet, but I am working on it. Believe me, each day gives me a new opportunity.