Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Autism: Fighting the battles you can win

I started today's post as a rant, which I said in April I wouldn't do again. A couple of people had said some idiotic things that tripped my trigger, and I was going to go off on how insensitive and unthinking people can be. But then I realized that these people don't have a clue about autism, so I decided, what's the point?

Instead, I thought I'd share with you another autism anecdote, something that happened to us just this morning and that typifies what we go through every day.

When getting the kids together in the morning, I admit that either a SpongeBob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer or Blues Clues DVD will be playing in the background. It's a battle we've decided is better "lost" than challenged while trying to give meds, brush teeth and everything else involved in trying to get a couple of high maintenance kids together for school. Anything we can to to make the process as emotionless as possible --- for us --- is a good thing.

This morning we were on an episode of the square sponge of which Nolan is not especially fond. He knows about "skipping" the episodes and ran to grab the remote. Practiced as we are at this game, it was a no-brainer what he was asking, and we attempted to move the episode along. Several presses of the remote met with no results, and Nolan became visibly upset.

He began to whine and repeated "skip, skip" in his own pronunciation. We thought to change the batteries, hoping that would do the trick.

We've just moved and our house is still yet to be fully unpacked. So, finding a set of small triple-A batteries hidden amongst the boxes labeled "Kitchen", "Kids Stuff" and "Your Guess is as Good as Mine" was a near impossibility. We were fortunate however and snuck some out of a small, light-up fan we had just bought him.

By now he was melting down, giving a crying fit that no parent wants a child to suffer before school. But he's yet to learn patience or the limitations of something that's broken. It has worked every other time without incident, so why not today, People?

We opened the remote and realized right away that no amount of changed batteries would do anything to help the situation. Tipping the remote upside-down, a small amount of moisture/water/some unknown liquid trickled from the hand held and onto the entertainment center. Oh happy day! We tried, but the batteries just ended up getting wet.

Nolan's meltdown now in high gear, we realized the only remedy would be another DVD, and fast. We popped out SpongeBob and slipped in a Looney Toons collection. It worked, and fortunately the bus was less than two episodes away. Nolan calmed down and all was quiet on the homefront.

It would be better if we could get the mornings going without movies altogether. But we're willing to accept that there are other places we can put our collective foot down. Morning just isn't that place.

~ Jon


Anonymous said...

I hope I don't post twice; this is my second try - for some reason I always mess up my profile on Blogspot.
I feel your pain. We do the same thing, only it’s computer instead of TV. Just yesterday Jimmy went to his computer, (as he does first thing every morning – the boy is 12 and has two websites already); anyway, the internet wasn’t working again. We have to reset the router more often than we should have to. But I was working, so I couldn’t allow him to reset it. After listening to him whine for an hour I could’ve kicked myself. Why didn’t I just go ahead and let him reset it and worked that hour in peace? Some days are just harder than others.
As always, thanks for sharing your story.

Jon G said...


Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience, too. Today was another frustrating day for us, and I actually said, "Why can't you just NOT HAVE autism?" Can you believe I said that? I was so ashamed. But really --- don't we all think that sometimes? I think I may post about that sometime.

Anonymous said...

Jon, I know how guilty you must have felt. That reminds me of a counseling session we had with our psychologist. The doctor was discussing ways we could reward Jimmy for helping out around the house - simple things like taking the trash out, and putting the dishes away. Admitedly, I was in a foul mood already and when the doctor suggested we give him another 1/2 hour on the computer for taking the trash out, I said, "Why can't you just do it for the sake of being nice?!", to which the doctor replied, "Deanna, he CAN'T." Only parents rearing these children can understand that sort of frustration, and the guilt that immediately follows.

Jon G said...

I felt so guilty, I wrote a post about it:

I believe we should be allowed to have these thoughts and feelings from time to time without worrying about the guilt, too.

Corrie Howe said...

Jon, I totally relate. There are a number of things I would prefer, but chose not to battle. Wearing clean PJs to bed instead of the clothes he wore all day; changing clothes everyday instead of wearing them two or three days in a row; eating something besides chips and salsa every meal, etc.

Deanna, I can also relate to your second comment. At one point we had so many incentives for so many different behaviors we were addressing, I wanted to shout, "Why can't he just do it?" I especially have a problem because he has a younger sister who thinks she needs the rewards to do everything. The older brother only gets his nose out of joint if the reward is McDonalds. So getting my son to not have a toileting accident for one week costs me about $25.00.

But, the good news, is eventually he no longer needs a reward for all the behaviors.

Jon G said...


Thanks again for your great insight. Your comments are almost posts all by themselves! Thanks for coming by; hope you and your insightful thoughts can stay a while.