You Know You’re an Autism Parent When…

Earlier this month, my husband shared a list with me from The Mighty called, “You Know You’re a Special Needs Parent When…”  Check out the original post with some pretty funny e-cards here.  Now that we have a week of summer break under our belts and I spend all day with my kiddos (when I’m not pawning them off on Nana while I day drink with friends), this list comes into my mind over and over again throughout the day.

You have to understand that my children are spastic during the summer, and no amount of time in the pool, sun, or any activity tires them.  They are high on life one minute, then screaming “DINOSAURS” and throwing shit the next.  It’s a Jekyll and Hyde routine stuck on repeat.  Maybe it’s the heat or humidity or change in routine, but it leaves the husband and I wondering what alternate universe we entered.  Hence, the day drinking.

So tonight I offer you some examples of what The Mighty and I know about autism parenting this week…

“You’re a walking medical dictionary.”  I just schooled my husband in mast cell activation disorder regarding Thing 1, and the benefits of a low-phenol diet for Thing 2.  It was an out-of-body experience.  Tonight at Whole Foods, I actually said to him, “I can’t remember what is lower in phenol–green or red grapes.”  Who am I?

“When putting your child’s socks on is a task that takes at least 15 minutes.”  I needed to make a quick trip to the grocery store when the baby woke up from his nap yesterday.  It took 10 minutes for Thing 1 to find his shoes.  When he finally found his Crocs, he stared at them.  It was a staring contest with ugly shoes.  By the time everyone got buckled into the van, I realized no green beans are worth this amount of effort.

“You’re constantly surprised by your own courage, and by your child’s courage” and “You are capable of more love and strength than you ever thought possible.”  One line I hate hearing is, “I don’t know how you do it.”  Why wouldn’t you do your best?  Or at least try?  What’s the alternative? Some days you batten down the hatches and ride the waves.  Some days you have to tell someone off.  Some days you’re the beauty, and other days you’re the beast.

“You’ve learned to celebrate the little victories.”  You pooped in the potty?  YAY!!

Thing 2 blew me away today at the pool.  After swim team practice, he wanted to stay and play.  There were other boys from the team throwing balls, diving, and being neurotypical boys on a summer day.  Thing 2 watched them as he swam along with perimeter of the pool.  Then he took someone’s Lightning McQueen, threw it, and dove for it.  He bobbed back up with McQueen and a big smile.  He did that a few times among the kids, not on the perimeter, and that took a ton of courage from my little boy.  He was initiating play with other kids, and that is a big victory, my friends.

“You’ve (almost) learned how to forgive yourself for not being perfect” and “You’ve (almost) become immune to the looks others give you in public.”  I yelled and cursed trying to get the kids to the grocery store yesterday.  Then Thing 2 tried to hold Thing 1’s hand in the parking lot, and that set Thing 1 off.  I lost it.  I horse-collared Thing 1 and told him to stop being a butthead.  An old lady gave me a nasty look.  I’m not perfect, neither are my kids, and we do not pretend to be.

“You will never take your child’s health for granted.”  As stressful as some trips to the grocery store can be, I am grateful to have these little boogers.  I know several friends and family members who lost children to sickness or birth defects.  Being able to fuss at my kids, love on them, and smother them with kisses before bed is a gift.

“You always know when to trust your instincts.”  This is a big reason why we’re getting Thing 1 out of his current school placement.

“No matter how much you go without it, you’ll never get used to the lack of sleep.”  TRUTH.  Sleeping in and taking naps, when they happen, are the most magical things ever.  As magical as unicorns galloping along rainbows, because I never see them.  Our typical night starts with Melatonin for the big kids at 8:00.  Then the husband lays with Thing 2 until he falls asleep. The adults go to bed around 11:00.  Thing 2 is awake again anywhere between 12:30-2:30 a.m., screaming bloody murder and repeating, “Come here!” and “Go to bed!”  We let him cry it out, even when he wakes up his brothers.  Thing 1 is up and will rummage the house for iPads and food starting at 5:00 a.m., sometimes earlier.  When I do snap at my kids, it’s because I’m so damn tired!

“Any day your child keeps his pants on is a good day.”  A better name for Thing 1 is “White Lightning.”  He is a habitual streaker, and we catch him outside daily, jumping on the trampoline or swinging high in the swing, butt naked.  My husband was laying on the couch last weekend when Thing 2 came into the family room and threw his shorts and underwear in daddy’s face.  That’s pretty bold.


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“The neighbors begin to wonder why so many therapists are coming and going from your house all week.”  It’s called ABA, bitches.  Now get back to your post about how gifted and perfect you want Fakebook world to think your child is.

Okay, that last one sounded a little bitter.  My bad.

Here’s to summer survival.


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