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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Was Late To Work Today, Because My Son Is Autistic

I was late to work today.

Luckily for me, there weren't any big meetings or hugely pressing deadlines hitting me first thing this morning, and my boss is a pretty reasonable guy and the kids are with their dad tonight so I can stay late and make up the time.

So I walked in and waved to the boss and apologized and set up my laptop in the docking station and got right to work.

And some days, I'm really, really glad to be at work. I like my job and it's a good job, but of course, I'd rather be idle rich if I could have my choice. Some days, is like an oasis away from my life, and this was one of those mornings.

My son had a field trip. And as a result, he got to be more autistic than usual. He's never without his autism, of course, and it's just such a regular part of him I don't even register it much anymore, unless something sets him off. And this morning, the field trip did it.

It started with his pants. I laid out some jeans for him to wear, and I should note that jeans are a fairly new thing for him. He's always worn elastic-waist pants, but as he grew out of size 6x a few years back, it's been progressively harder to find anything but sweatpants with an elastic waist. And he expressed an interest in dressing in jeans like the other kids, so I bought him a couple of pairs and he wears them - reluctantly. The first half hour is the hardest. Once he's worn them a little while, he's fine in them, but they're "pinchier" than his other comfortable khaki pants.

Today, he took one look at the jeans and said no. I said yes, because the field trip is to kind of a rustic area, where the bugs are plentiful and he'll be hiking a bit. Sneakers are a requirement, and jeans are a good idea.

Then his reluctance turned to an all-out war when he reminded me that on last year's field trip, he wore his brown pants. And that's what you wear on a field trip. Welcome to autism, folks! We're all about our routines! And as an autism parent, I'm all about getting him to push out of those routines, especially when they can hinder him in some way. If I gave in today, there's a good chance he'll only wear brown jpants on field trips from now to the end of time.

So we butted heads and I stuck to my guns and he sat there simmering, shoveling his breakfast into his mouth and fidgeting in his pinchy jeans. This escalated exponentially five minutes later when he was having difficulty tying his shoes. I came over to help and unwittingly sent us to DefCon 1: the shoe I tied was tighter than the other one, and the difference sent him over the edge into full-on meltdown.

So I wrapped my arms around him (all while looking at the clock) and I rocked and soothed and we talked about good behavior and how that doesn't involve throwing things, stomping, or smacking people who are trying to help you. I got the offending shoes off his feet and he still wasn't calming fast enough so I threw him a compromise. I'd let him wear his brown pants, if he'd let me re-tie his shoes and I promised to make them "even." I'll just have to hope that I have time to fight over the pants on next year's field trip day.

He agreed (and apologized profusely to the point where he couldn't concentrate on anything else), jeans were shucked and pants were donned, shoes were tied, adjusted, re-tied and adjusted again, and he ended up rmissing the bus so I had to drive himto school. I raced through my forty-five minute commute as best I could, but there's only so much you can do.

So I slid behind my desk with a sigh, and the boss strolled over and said, "Traffic?"

I just looked up and said "Yeah. Nothing was moving fast."


Ellie's journey with her son David has been one of joy, patience and discovery - one that changed the very framework in which she used to view autism. Through David's eyes, she's learned that an autism diagnosis isn't the end of the world - it's just the beginning of an interesting new one.
Available at Amazon for Kindle - and Smashwords for all e-reading device.

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