“Attack of the App Fly”
It’s been a long week. Summer is designed to fray and test the bonds of autism family life. If I’ve been writing so many book and movie reviews lately, it’s because I really feel like fiction is more soothing than real life.
And I don’t want to dwell on some of it either! I’ll make one of my infamous lists for your amusement:
1. We are still listening to Yuhi Chala. A year later. * The version A listens to has cuss words for captions, so we had to enlist G to apply the needed teen tech skills. Any cuss words should really be coming from us. No one can listen to a song multiple times a day for a year and remain pristine in word choice.
2. A has been trying for clothing optional weekends, and thinks less of us for dressing him back up. Parents can be so prudish.
3. The new ‘rule’ is that our bedroom doors have to be kept locked at all times. So we basically have to unlock them every time we go up there. And then he locks us in. Somewhere there are families living free range and cage free, but it’s not in our house.
4. The laundry and dish washing restrictions have grown more intense, so we had to rope the school in to help. They’ve been great, and have created a social story so that A can have it narrated to him, and he can look at photos of himself helping with the laundry, and slowly allow us to dream of clean clothes again. So far we’ve progressed to sixty seconds of dryer time when he’s home. We might even make it to wearing dry clothes by the time he turns thirteen.
When I was young, there was a rather slapstick movie called “Young Einstein,” in which Einstein was characterized as a backwoods kid from Tasmania who split the beer molecule and catapulted to fame. I know, why did I watch it. My standards for movies have never been that high, in my defense.
Anyway, in one of the scenes supposedly set in Tasmania, Einstein is sitting in a washtub, having his bath, and simultaneously washing the family’s dinner dishes. That’s going to be us pretty soon, is where I was going with this side story.
5. Summer outings that don’t involve swimming pools are of zero interest to A, so naturally we try to squeeze some in, to coax him to widen the vistas a little. Last weekend, he bawled lustily through a community outing to a farmer’s market, though he did manage to quiet down enough to eat quite a few pierogis. 😉
Fortunately, A being so squishy faced and smiley mitigates his tyrannical tendencies. He has been enjoying coming home from summer school to find G on the porch, and the two of them engage in mock attacks and chase each other around the driveway, while I stand alert in case A decides to take to the streets. G and I have a narrative all written in our heads, about A taking off into the unknown, and gathering a ragtag bunch of friends who all have adventures together. It ends in everyone having to have rabies shots but otherwise having no remorse.
Real life is often stranger than fiction. After years of avoiding the backyard, A braved it last week, and enjoyed it immensely. The very same day, we had an attack of huge flies in our house. It was like he invaded their territory, so they fought back. There were so many that we couldn’t keep track of them all, and we kept finding more. Date night came, and G kept texting us with updates of how many the babysitter was annihilating with the fly swatter. That night, my husband stayed up till 2 am, getting the last of them. As he put it, it was easier to sacrifice some sleep than to listen to family freakout.
The biggest mental barrier A is fighting this summer is that his old iPad is dying, and the school took the opportunity to change his speech app along with the device, so he is spending some energy on fighting the establishment. Poor guy. The new app gives him more scope as he gets older, plus the old app is so old that the company no longer does upgrades or tech support for it, but for now, it might as well be a fly from the backyard that has eau de garbage can on it, so much does A shrink from it.
Whenever we are deafened by A’s roars, we remind ourselves that changes like this are very traumatic for him. It must be like being suddenly transported to a country where you cannot make your language skills understood. So you retreat into your fortress of rituals and screams, and watch everyone else communicate with an ease that is denied to you.
Meanwhile, the washtub beckons. How can I refuse its charms.
*Please refer to my blog entry 18. “Playing the Autism Anthem,” in case you were not groaning along with us last summer.