Sometimes; Autism takes a back seat to all the crap that happens in your day.
Sometimes you have such a horrible procession of events, that you forget that your child has Autism, or that everyday life is a struggle. For instance; I put the baby monitor (along with a clean pair of clothes) on the top of Little Man’s hamper. I then carried the hamper down the stairs, so that I could hold his hand with the other hand. We get downstairs, I congratulate myself on remembering to take out the clean clothes, change him into the clean clothes, put the dirty clothes in the hamper, and put the dirty clothes into the wash. When the washer is done, I start removing the clothes and discover that I had left the monitor in the hamper and it got put through the wash. It is in pieces and of course, no longer works. I say quite a few choice words at my own stupidity.
My daughter hears my self proclamations of awesomeness and wants to know what happened. I tell her. She says that I should move her brother into her room, that way I can see both of them with one monitor. I smile and the anger fades. I tell her that was a very sweet idea, but I didn’t think she would sleep very well with him in there (he gets night terrors). She frowns and says “I don’t get very good sleep without him in there.” She had me. She gets nightmares all of the time. But it wasn’t time for that, it was time to take her to school. So we walk her to school, come back, and I decide to go to the store to get a new monitor (before his nap time). On the way there, I hit a hawk. That’s right, a HAWK! Now or those of you who do not have a nature-based religion, this is the equivalent to me hitting Jesus with my car. Needless to say, I was very shook up. I calmed myself down and turned around to find it. I had to make sure it was dead and not injured. But given the busy freeway and the height of the grass, it was literally impossible to find it.
I managed to make it to the store without further incident. But when we got into the store, Little Man accidentally stepped on his container of snacks and dumped them all over the floor. At this point, I was so beat down, that it didn’t matter to me. I scooped them up, put them in the trash, and grabbed the emergency bag of teddy grahams. When he started to protest being in the cart with whines and screams; it didn’t upset me. I looked at him, smiled, and told him we would be done soon. I took him out every once and a while, let him push the cart, and eventually was ready for checkout. They didn’t have a monitor, but they did have the other things I was looking for.
When we got home for his nap and he was getting frustrated about the gate stopping him from climbing the stairs alone, I handled it calmly and without any frustration. His Autism and all of the quirks, habits, frustrations, and miscommunications that come with it, had taken a backseat to the previously mentioned drama. I didn’t see any of his normal behavior as irritating, frustrating, or mind numbingly repetitive. Instead, I saw him for who he was, and what he was trying to say/accomplish. I was so calm, it was shocking. Now I’m not saying it should take a wave of misfortunes to get you to understand and be able to tolerate the frustrations that come with Autism. But it was nice to have things put into perspective. And that is important.
He doesn’t do his behaviors on purpose. He doesn’t know that it is incredibly frustrating to listen to cupboards being slammed in the kitchen while you are trying to make dinner. He doesn’t know it breaks my heart when he gets hurt and I want to comfort him, but he doesn’t want to be comforted. He knows it’s frustrating to try and communicate with us, but he doesn’t know it’s frustrating for us too. All of these things happen everyday, and yet each time they happen, it can feel like the end of the world. One more spinning of the toys, one more slam of the cupboard, one more scream of frustration. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can put things into perspective and realize; yes they are doing these behaviors, and they will continue to do them. If I get frustrated every time that they do happen, I’m wasting way more energy and having a terrible life while I do it. Why not just see it as part of the routine. See it as the way they are and adjust to it?
This won’t be possible everyday. Some days; the littlest thing will be enough to set you off and make you wish you could go back to bed. But not everyday. And the better you get at adjusting, the less often those days will happen. Nobody is perfect. No day is perfect. But we can at least try and appreciate the day we have, even if parts of it make us want to pull our hair out.