Rules for Saner Living

Living with a person who is on the Autism spectrum means adapting to some pretty quirky behaviors.  These behaviors are different for every person, family and sometimes even situations.  Some behaviors need to be corrected immediately, others are pretty inocuuous.  In our house, we  have developed some rules that we live by every day.  Failure to not comply with these rules can lead to anything ranging from sheer fun, a long and drawn-out meltdown or (heaven forbid) something catastrophic as Joel is almost completely unaware that he is not indestructible.

I broke the first rule about making sure all the doors are locked this afternoon and Joel got into the bathroom and started the bath.  If I didn’t let him take a bath, there would have been a huge meltdown.  So, while I was sitting next to the tub intermittently squirting shaving cream onto his outstretched hand, I wrote out this list.  I am seriously considering printing it out in bold lettering and tacking it on the wall for everyone to see.

Our Thirteen Commandments

1.  Thou shall check all door locks (this includes bedroom, bathroom, cabinets, refrigerator, closets, drawers, door leading to the garage and the front door).

2.  Thou shall use a quiet, indoor voice.  (This is very difficult as we are all a bunch of loud talkers.)

3.  Thou shall not interfere with Joel’s piles of stuff in his presence.  

4.  Thou shall not sing to Joel-EVER.  

5.  Thou shall not put silverware back into the silverware drawer in Joel’s presence.  

(Seriously, if you make the mistake of breaking commandments 3, 4 and 5, you probably will get hurt.  He does not tolerate these things and will have a meltdown, jump at you like a pro-wrestler, pinch you, bite you, whatever.  It isn’t pretty.  We have learned the hard way.)

6.  Thou shall keep the kitchen stocked with popsicles, sliced cheese, sour cream and cereal.

7.  Thou shall learn to deal with nude gymnastics at all times of the day. 

8.  Thou shall forfeit your blanket if Joel wants it, even if you are in the process of using it.  (Cold?  Go put on a sweater.)

9.  Thou shall not use the computer chair for its intended purpose.  It is for spinning.

10.  Thou shall fast-forward past all the “boring” parts of Sesame Street episodes (the first 20 minutes) and go directly to the Count or Elmo’s World.

11.  Thou shall keep all books, magazines, mail and any other paper  put away or at least out of reach unless you want them to be torn to shreds. (Joel does not descriminate between the electric bill or your expensive college textbook.)  

12.  Thou shall keep all drawing materials, crayons, pens, pencils, markers, etc put away unless you want some modern art on the walls or furniture. 

13.  No small objects are to be left out as Joel puts everything into his mouth.  EVERYTHING.

So, those are just some of the rules we live by here at Casa Our House.  I’m sure other families on the spectrum have their own list of rules of this nature.  It may seem easy for those not living on the spectrum to say, “That’s crazy.  You need to control that child.”  And, while I probably would have shared your opinion years ago, I can safely say, it isn’t as easy as that.  Believe me, we work with Joel every day at home to follow some kind of normal routine and when he is at school, he has trained professionals extending that kind of learning.  It will take years and some of these things will be with us possibly all of his life.  He is a work in progress as are we all.


Snip Snip

Well, summer break is quickly approaching it’s end (OMG!) and we are beginning back-to-school preparations.  One of the things on the to-do list is hair cuts for all three of the kids, especially for the boys.  Let’s just say, if this doesn’t happen soon, we are going to have a bunch of Sasquatch hunters camped out in our front yard with telephoto lenses just waiting for one of them to come out the front door for a photo op.

Hair cuts aren’t a problem for Will.  He absolutely loves to get his hair cut.  There is the (nonstop) chatting with the hair stylist, getting to decide on whether or not to go ultra-short or just trim the haystack to continue the Luke Skywalker look he’s been going for lately, the cool spinny chair, the smells and movement of the salon.  All of it.

Joel, on the other hand….  Yikes.

Our littlest guy has never once been to a salon for his own hair cut.  I don’t expect it to happen any time soon.  So, that means he is resigned to having a crazy scarecrow ‘do courtesy of his own mum and dad.  When I’m cutting his hair, I’m not really going for a specific look.  My only goals when cutting his hair are (1) cut his hair and (2) not cut him (or others) with the scissors.

We’ve tried having one of his hold him down while the other one quickly cuts whatever hair is sticking out, but this is dangerous because he will not sit still.  At all.  So, I’ve had to get creative in my approach.

What I do is get Joel interested in a movie or t.v. show and then stand behind him with a pair of scissors and slowly snip away at the hair on the back of his head while he is distracted.  This is extremely hit or miss because he isn’t stupid.  He can hear the scissors and feel me messing with him.   It looks something like this:

Most of the time, he catches onto what I’m up to and starts to run from me.  And, because I am that kind of person who doesn’t want to give up on something I’ve started, this happens:

Once I’ve eventually cut the hair in the back and as much on the sides as I can, I then have to resort to asking Husband to hold Joel down while I cut the rest of the hair on the sides and in the front.  If Joel is especially wiggly, we have to have Maya help hold his hands.  This doesn’t take anywhere near as long as the first part, but it is definitely stressful.  I “look forward” to going through this either this week or sometime next week, depending on how long I procrasinate.

So, fellow Autism parents out there, how do you handle hair cuts and other grooming needs with your little cuties on the Spectrum?  Or, do you have any stories about this you’d like to share?  Also, if anyone on the spectrum is reading this, what worked or does work for you?  I need all the help I can get and any input is appreciated.


Wordless Wednesday-ish: The Black Balloon

I was going to write this long review for this fantastic movie, but then I remembered I’m not a movie critic.  I think the trailer will speak for itself.

The Black Balloon.

Let me just say, this movie is the most accurate and heartfelt portrayal of Autism I have seen so far.  Or, maybe I should say this is what Autism looks like in my house.  (If you have Netflix, you can stream it from there.)