Ridiculous Road Trips
On the recommendation of a friend I recently listened to an excellent piece on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour. The link's here if you want to check it out: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08g2tng
It's a fifteen minute interview with a very articulate, obviously intelligent lady on the difficulties of being both a carer and a mum to a disabled child. This might not be on the radar of many typical parents. I mean, how can you be a carer and a parent? All parents are carers right? Taking care of all kids is a tough task.....no?
By wild contrast, I give you parenting a la autism. First up, getting out of Babyville is like that scene in Independence Day after the aliens arrive and blow up the Empire State Building. Logjam. When you do finally make the next journey phase, your TomTom gives up almost instantly on negotiating routes through the green lanes of not-proper-roads upon which you find yourself.
Nothing is expected. Nothing is easy. The usual service stations are nowhere to be seen, and the few you do stumble across resemble something out of a Tarantino movie; creepy one-man jobs selling hugely expensive fuel and dodgy snacks you're not even sure are edible. Nettle-pissing is highly preferable to the spider-filled outdoor portaloo, and you feel completely powerless as the phrase 'beggars can't be choosers' is tangibly realised in your life.
Does any of this mean you're not still totally in love with the baby in the backseat? No. Of course it doesn't. Your kid is still absolutely excellent. But parenting that kid? That's rough. Autism is a hidden condition, and in my experience out of sight out of mind holds true regarding cultural attitudes toward 'invisible' disability. This, amidst obsession with rating each other's parenting capabilities, does not make for an easy road.
That said, my boy is genuinely hilarious, and the punk in me loves his utter defiance of every social norm going. The following gems are actual real life shit I've been genuinely privy to in my time as an autism parent.
- I've prised B's hands from cute little animals at Pet's Corner while he's squished them to within an inch of their life. I have, however, avoided mouth-to-mouth on a rabbit thus far.
- B's strong need for sensory input has resulted in making himself vomit through over-indulging on the gag thing. I've been forced to explain my child's bulimic-like behaviour to fellow humans in the supermarket while they've watched on in sheer horror.
- Puddles are for water play - with your face. Obviously, everyone should know this fact.
- Three seconds without line-of-sight supervision results in dramatic airlift-esque rescue from behind the TV/through the stair gaps/wherever else he's decided to post his good self.
- My reccie skills are honed to sharp perfection; I'm at least two seconds ahead of him on spotting anything in a room he might break or damage himself with, and at least one second ahead in swiftly removing it.
- Running into people of the more cuddly variety is an absolute thing. I mean, really, who can blame the kid; we all need a squishy hug every now and then. Also a thing is dribbling down well-endowed lady cleavages. *sigh*
Since it's Autism Awareness Month, I thought as well as the insight, it might be useful to reiterate some of the things that aren't so conducive to the ASD conversation, and some of the practical things that really are.