I’ve been a full blown “Autism Mom” now for almost a full 18 years. My now adult son was diagnosed at the age of 3 1/2 years old. Most days are okay and some pretty good. Other days, after working at one of my three jobs, including managing his small business, I want to fall to the floor in a heap. But once in a blue moon, we have a really bad day where I just want to get in my car, wrapped up in a big blanket and simply cry it out.
As a family, we keep it simple. We keep a general routine that revolves around my eldest sons schedule. He gets up at the same time every morning around 4:30 am. He has the same shower time each day, and does all the family laundry (except folding) every morning before we get out of bed. Daily he monitors his stash of personal care products and pantry items – frequently bellowing out loud when hes low on something or needs more “backups”. Me? I’m either off to the store to fetch toothpaste and ramen noodles, folding the laundry thats piled up on my bedroom floor or updating his website. At the end of the day, like clockwork, he heads upstairs and goes to sleep. Sexy life, right?
One random afternoon a few months ago, with my son in the basement, and his pizza in the oven….the power went out for no particular reason. “HEY!” “WHAT THE (very bad word) IS HAPPENING!” he roars from the basement. “The electricity went out, maybe a car hit a pole somewhere nearby.” I replied. Well, that was logial enough…..or at least I thought so. Barrelling like a rhino upstairs, tripping in the dark on the wooden stairs and stubbing his toes…he was going to lose it. It was base – his panic. Fight or flight instincts taking complete control of of our household INSTANTLY.
When a 6′ 5″ 280 pound man goes sideways into a full-on autism induced raging meltdown, it gets real, quick. Unfortunately, he is food insecure and his unbaked pizza was just put in the oven. His panic was overflowing demonstrated by swear words, throwing things, banning me from going out to pick him up hamburgers. It was NUTS! He was convinced that he was going to starve, it was the end of the world and all his art work files on his computer were GONE! Thank all that is good and holy that the lights came back up 29 minutes 32 seconds later. The shock waves began to ebb…..and our version of normalcy ultimately returned…I think.
A letter came in the mail a few weeks later that was not welcomed news. Our power company was planning to replace our meter. It went onto explain that a crew will be by sometime within a 4 week time frame, shut off the power and they will be finished in about 10 minutes. Oh. Hell. No. Not at our house, thank you very much! A quick phonecall, explained the situation, appointment set, calendared with enough time to prepare my son. He took it in, and agreed we neded to leave for lunch that day. Problem averted – dodged that bullet.
They say you manifest your own reality. I don’t know who was thinking about the possibility of the power going out more, me, my son or our dogs. “Someone has been over thinking the power going out!” I remarked out loud while watching the morning weather reort on the news a couple of weeks ago. A storm was coming. A massive windstorm with sustained hurricaine force winds. “WHAT. DID. HE. SAY?” My oldest cried out, from the basement (he has the hearing of a bat!). This is not really happening. We live in the Pacific Northwest and are typically not used to weather events like this. It had to be the overzelousness of our local weather reporters….we are used to panic attack reporting. You know, snow storm warnings that amount to a dusting. Thunderstorms yielding a single strike – that kind of thing.
Preparing for the worst we bought a dozen flaslights, stocked up on shelf stable foods our sons will eat, gathered candles, explained the situation and possible ramifications then knocked our oldest out with Melatonin for the evening. It worked and he seemed fine. The winds came. It was a doozy, the lights flickering hinted the stress on the system – the news was reporting the storm of the century. Overnight over 800 trees snapped taking out the electricity to over 175,000 homes in our city. We were lucky, we lost fencing and some of our roof. But we never lost power. Thank God above!
The insurance company sent me to the Crisis Center when I called in our claim. Keeping in perspective that we needed to be patient – our adjuster came out today – a full two weeks later. A model of efficiency he was. Roofer in tow, my younger son and husband fetched out spare shingles from our storage area that had been waiting 20 years to see the light of day. Received a healthy check on the spot for a new roof and fence, chatted about his travels and the damage he has assessed and counted ourselves doubly lucky.
Ironically, my younger son found something in storage deep beneth the stairs. A treasure! My very favorite down coat. Vintage now, a 30 year old Pacific Trail, baby blue and still beauriful. I was estatic! Washed up, fluffy and ready to go when I actually need to go get in my car and cry it out. As a veteran autism mom I AM ALL about being prepared.
~ Wendy Frye
“The greatest weapon against stress is having the ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James