WHAT DOES AUTISM LOOK LIKE?

On Monday, April 2nd, Charlie started preschool and for some reason I don’t remember why but I had randomly thrown some packages of Cheezits in the center console of the van. When Charlie got in the car after school he saw me pull a bag out and give them to him. The next day when he got into the car he bypasses his seat, goes straight for the console, throws my purse upside down into the floor, and opens it practically falling over to get into the console to get a bag of Cheezits. It was cute, I laughed. (It’s not going to be quite as funny when I forget to restock the snacks one day!) Next day I made sure my purse wasn’t on the console and sure enough he went for it again. For the next two days I tried to give him a snack other than Cheezits with no luck. Teddy Grahams and Goldfish did not cut it. This week it was more of the same. Cheezits everyday after school and they can’t be ones I put in a ziplock baggie they have to be a prepackaged bag, because the first time I did it they were prepackaged and now that is the “correct” way it should be.

Autism is about routine and schedules and things not being different or out of place. Cameron is no longer as rigid as he used to be about things having to be in the right place or done a certain way for him to accept it. He once, years ago, told a babysitter she put his toys away wrong and then fixed it for her. He still likes his bedtime routine and gets a little upset if we get done early and he doesn’t go straight to bed. Dinner, brush teeth, bath, tell mommy goodnight and daddy tucks him into bed is the routine. His schedule on the other hand is bedtime usually between 7:30-8:00 so if we finish our routine early he thinks he supposed to go to bed right then. If I tell him we are going to these four places and then we are going home he’s going to tell me about it if I try and stop at just one more place. He’s ready to go and we should fall in line. I try to make sure I’m attempting to teach him to be flexible and patient and that everything cannot always be done how and when he wants and not give into him unless I can see that he really cannot handle anymore. I get it. I don’t like when my day is screwed with and sometimes it’s just too peopley out there but life does not always go according to plan and as a Mommy of three I need him to work with me here just a little.

I feel as though I am relearning autism with this second go around. All these little things that Cameron has outgrown or didn’t do to this extreme or even at all I’m learning how to deal with all over again. Same song, different kid, completely different way of dealing. Charlie has a certain way for everything it seems right now. Superheroes have to be lined up laying down across the bookshelf when cleaned up and yes he’ll “fix” them if you did it wrong. Sandwiches (he will only eat peanut butter and jelly) have to be cut into fours. His blankies have to have a certain kind of tag. Doors are supposed to be closed even if I’m bent over getting something out of the refrigerator. Yes, I’ve had the refrigerator shut on my head and Carter more than once has been shut in the closet while putting his shoes away. Bedtime I mostly have to do because he expects it to be me and will get upset if his Daddy is the one going through the motions of getting him ready for bed (or for that matter getting him up in the morning or from nap) and whatever we do I have to be last to leave the room. When David and I tell him goodnight I cannot be the first one out of his bedroom, it’s a weird little quirk I know but we just kind of roll with it. I’ve had to turn around and go back into his room many times so that David was not the last to leave. Routine and sameness are just part of the autism puzzle that we work with, there is so much more to it though.

So tonight at 7:30 this is what autism looks like. Me rearranging the center console of the van because it is now apparently after school snack central and making sure it is stocked with Cheezits, the prepackaged original ones, because the white cheddar ones are not good enough for the CharlieBear (just kidding, but seriously he won’t eat those). I even bought a little basket in one of my signature colors. What? It was a good excuse to go into Hobby Lobby! Yes, I put some other snacks in there too because I have two other kids and because Charlie may decide tomorrow that Cheezits are no longer the after school snack of choice.

For tonight this is our autism.

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