The daily hum drum of Autism

JC isn’t at school today.  He isn’t really ALL that sick.  He is tired.  End of school term exhaustion.  

I got a phone call yesterday to say I had to collect JC from school as he had vomited.  I don’t believe JC is really ill.  JC is a dab hand at vomiting on demand.  It’s made easier by the fact that he has always had a dodgy stomach.  I have become hardened to the plight of the vomiting child.  I sigh.  I cut my lunch – which I haven’t had – short with my sister-in-law and head on back to the school.

I arrive at school and ask to see JC.  I walk in to the sick bay.  He is sitting on the bed, long legs dangling over the side, reading his iPod.  Of course he is.  I walk up to him and stroke his arm.  He looks at me and smiles.  Not an I’m-pleased-to-see-you smile, but a smile that says, Yep, I’m on my way home.  I swallow my frustration.  It is who he is and I have to accept that.

I take his bag from him and as I do so, I brush his hand.  He feels hot.  And now I look at him, he feels pale.  “Oh, I think you REALLY are sick.” I say.

“I told you this morning I was sick.”

“Yes, yes you did.”

“And you didn’t believe me.”

“That happens when you cry wolf so often, JC, we stop believing and then when you are really sick, we still don’t believe you.”

“I don’t cry wolf anymore.”

I can’t stop myself laughing.  “Oo, you big fibber.”

“No, seriously, I don’t, ever since Dad said he would buy me Assassins Creed at the end of the year.”

That still grates me.  The game is exceptionally violent.  I don’t like the idea of JC playing it, but Dee offered it to him out of desperation.  It was the one thing that we had that could make him go to school without question.  The one thing that would motivate him to overcome his fears and anxieties and enter that school ground.  Lord knows what will happen when we have to hand the game over.  What leverage will we have then?

“Oh, yes, Assassins Creed,” I say.

JC smiles.  “I’m going to make you play it with me.”

It is a long standing joke with JC and I.  I am a pacifist and he plays games that shoot other humans and beings to smithereens.  I hate those games.  He loves to threaten me with making me play them.  I protest with a smile.  It’s our thing.

We get home.  I quickly change his sheets.  He is hot and I think it would be nice to get into clean sheets.  I take his iPod before he gets into bed.  JC protests.  “Mum, I need that!”

“No, you need to rest.”

“Reading is resting.  I’ll be in bed.”

“JC, you stare at this tiny little screen all day, except for when you are at school.  From 6am until 10pm, you do nothing but read this tiny screen.  I am surprised you aren’t blind!  You are sick because your body needs to rest.  That means sleep.”

“But I can’t sleep during the day.”

“Tough, you can try.  When it is after school hours, and if you have had some rest, I’ll give it to you then.”

It works.  JC manages to rest for a good hour or so.  I give him his iPod and he goes back to what he feels most secure doing.

Last night I read about PDD NOS.  I fear for JC and how withdrawn he is.  He is so isolated.  He tells me he doesn’t care and whilst I can accept this, I know the world outside our house will not understand.  

I go to tickle his back.  Every night we have the same ritual.  Dee gets JC to shower (under great protest EVERY night), he then makes him hot chocolate.  A few minutes after his hot chocolate, he then comes into the lounge, picks up one of the dogs and returns to his room.  I follow him in, free the imprisoned dog, and begin to tickle his back with a backscratcher that Dee got as a christmas present.  I use this time to try to communicate with JC.  Normally, he won’t speak to me much, even going as far as to tell me that he is no longer listening to me, but at night whilst I am tickling his back, I can usually get more out of him.

Tonight, I have decided to try something different.  

“How about we play a game whilst I tickle your back?”

“What game?”

“I say the name of a feeling and you have to tell me about that feeling.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Okay, say I say the word Love.  What can you tell me about love?”

“It makes you want to have sex with someone.”

Typical 14 year old response, but not one an NT child would say to his mother.  I smile.  

“Well, yes, there is that kind of love, although I suspect you are talking more about lust there.  When you love someone that you want to have sex with, you respect them and want to protect them as well.  Like Dad and I.  What other kinds of love are there?”

“How I love Harold and Lulian?”  Harold stares at the door having just been set free from the clutches of JC.

“Yes, that’s one kind of love.  What about the love you have for me.”

“That’s gross mom, that’s incest. Is loving Harold and Lulian a form of beastiality?”

This is going to be harder than I thought. “No, JC, it isn’t a form of beastiality.  Where did you even learn about that?”

“A friend of mine told me about it, so I googled it.”  Of course you did. 

“Well, no, it isn’t.  Let’s get back to love.  So there is the love you have for your girlfriend, a different type of love for your parents, your sister, your best friend, your cousin – “

“Do you know it’s not incest if you have sex with your cousin.”

“JC! Enough, let’s just talk about the subject at hand.” and then, “actually, I think it is incest.”

“No, it isn’t.  I looked it up.  You are allowed to marry your cousin, but not anyone directly genetically tied to you like your parents, your sister, or grandparents.  But your cousin is okay.”

I make a mental note to check if that’s right.  “Well, I wouldn’t go around telling anyone that JC, people will start looking at you weird and wondering why you know that.”

I decide to finish the tickling and with it, the conversation.  “Well, that’s it for now.  Perhaps a different feeling for tomorrow night.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Well, good night my boy.  I love you.”  I kiss him on the head and rise to turn off the light.  “I love you,” I say again.

“Mm” is all I get.  JC announced a while ago he was no longer going to tell me he loves me.  Heaven knows why.

This morning JC was not well.  Well, not ill exactly, but tired.  I knew trying to get him to school was futile.  I let him sleep in.  I slept in.  I had weird dreams about the farm of my adolescence.  I dreamed about my mom.  I miss my mom.

I’m still in my pyjamas as I write this. It is 2pm and JC has not emerged from his room except for a late breakfast and to get his iPod.  I’m getting hungry so I better get showered and get us some lunch.

Autism Depression

Shopping and the Status Quo

“Can you hear the dogs?”

I open my eyes from a deep sleep.  “I didn’t hear them.”

Dee gets out of bed.  I hear him yell at the dogs to go back to sleep.  I wonder why I haven’t heard them.  Am I going deaf?  I really need to phone that specialist.

Dee climbs back into bed and spoons in behind me.  “Bloody hell, Dee, you’re cold.”

I fall back into a deep sleep.  Scratch, scratch.  This time I hear them.  Dee is clearly not getting up.  I haul up out of bed and stomp through to the laundry.  I open the doors.  Wagging tails and licking tongues greet me.  I open the door to let them outside.  It is still dark.  I pad through to the pool room sliding door.  As I go through I notice JC on the settee still sleeping.  He has taken to sleeping there instead of his bed on the weekends.  Another anomalie of our son to accept.  He says it gives him peace.  Who are we to deny him peace?

I open the sliding door and rush back to bed.  It is bloody freezing.  I check the clock.  6:30am.  Shit, really?  On a Saturday?

I pull on a jumper and turn on my electric blanket.  I crawl into bed, exhausted.  Dee snuggles up behind me.  He is toasty warm.

Another deep sleep takes over me.  My dreams are fitful.  I am angry, confused, trying to escape, trying to scream but can’t.  You know the type.

Dee wakes up first, as always.  “I’m getting up – think I might go shopping early.”  Dee does the food shopping now.  Since mom died, the hum drum duties have largely fallen to him.  I no longer feel guilty about it.  He likes doing it.  It saves us money.  I like him doing it.  It saves me having to think and struggle with crowds.

“Do you want to come shopping with me?  You did say you wanted to start your diet today in earnest.”

I think about this in my slumbered position, eyes closed.   I should go.  “Alright, I’ll come with you.”  I don’t really want to go, but I know that taking some control over what I put into my body is the only way I am going to seriously lose weight.  I need to take responsibility for myself.

“I’ll make you tea.  You don’t have to get up now.”  Dee is clearly pleased at my decision.  I doze some more.  My tea arrives, but I don’t drink it straight away.  I doze, regretting my decision to agreeing to face the crowds.

Ironically, I have no trouble facing the crowds with Jay and Baby C.  I push and cuddle Baby C whilst Jay shops.  It isn’t the same as pushing a trolley around trying to jostle for food and then waiting in a massive queue for your food to be tallied up, bringing it home, putting it away.  It’s just too much.  I sound lazy, but I’m not.  I just haven’t been able to face shopping for two years.  Before that, I did it all the time.  Now I don’t.

Eventually, I drink my luke warm tea and pad into the shower.  I try on my new swimming costume and another old one.  I don’t like what I see, but it will have to do.  Hopefully, I will gain a bit of a tan on the tropical island.  Two weeks and we are off.  Honestly, I’m not really that excited, but that is okay.  I’m sure I’ll love it when I am there.

JC is in his room, in the dark, reading Naruto fan fiction.  “Have you had breakfast?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“JC, you have to eat.”

“How about JC makes his own breakfast whilst we are out?” Dee offers.

Yeah, I’ll make my own breakfast.”

“No,  you won’t.  He won’t.  He will read and then not eat.”

“You will eat, won’t you JC.”

“Yes, I’ll make my own breakfast.”

I shake my head.  We are in the kitchen, JC’s door is shut.  Dee whispers, “Sarah, we have to let him take some responsibility.  He is nearly 15.  He can do this.  We have to trust him.”

I no longer believe in the word trust – of anything or anyone.  I shake my head again and walk off.  I feel out of control, meaningless.

“JC, I want you to take a photo of your breakfast please.  We are giving you trust here and I want proof that trust was well placed.”

“Okay, Dad, I will.”

We head off to the shopping mall.  The parking lot is full already and it is only 10am.  My anxiety level rises.  So many people.  Far more than there are during the week.  I feel tired, drained, already.  We head off for coffee first.  It is nice to spend some time with Dee.  My favourite part of the day is when he comes home.  I love him and I miss him during the day.

We chat for a bit.  I am thinking of going to university to do a psychology degree.  I don’t want to be a counsellor.  I want to do research.  In particular I am thinking of becoming a psychological anthropologist.  My spiritual quest and lack of any answers that sit right with me means that I am incredibly interested in studying our need for religion, faith and belief.  We discuss this.  As usual, Dee is as supportive as ever, although I get irritated when he suggests I find someone who does this to find out what it entails.  He is an accountant and is as prudent as ever.  I’m not.  I don’t like prudence.  We talk some more and I even laugh.  I miss laughing.

We head to the shops.  Urgh.  I start looking at food I know I should not be having.  “Is that allowed on your diet?”  Dee asks helpfully.

I’m doing Weight Watchers and no, Lindt chocolate is not allowed.  Well, not unless I’m prepared to forgo an entire meal for a little block of chocolate.  I put the bar back.  I feel like I am parting with a dear friend.  Instead of alcohol, I am now addicted to chocolate.  I feel a headache coming on and wonder if it is psychosomatic.

I start looking at all the rows of convenience food.  If the shop only sold whole food and food that was good for you, it would only take up a quarter of the space.  I get overwhelmed at all the packaging of the food and think about the sea creatures that are getting caught up in plastic.  God, humans are sometimes full of shit.  I think about living in a country that doesn’t waste, but the only ones I can think of are very poor and, being the hypocrite I am, I am now very used to my creature comforts.

“Have you thought about the volunteering we talked about?”  Dee asks.

I snap out of my anxiety filled musings.  “Hmm?  Oh, yes, I did do a search, but it seems there is nothing in our area.  I will look more though after our holiday.”

“God, yes, I cannot wait to go.  Two weeks today and we will be on Hamilton Island!”

Yep, we will.  I get to expose my white whale like body for all to see.  Oh, goodie!

We head home.  On the whole it wasn’t a bad experience.  Dee spent more money than he would have liked because I kept putting stuff in the trolley.  This is why the status quo works for us and I am pleased for that.

JC is out when we get home.  He has gone for one of his three daily mandatory walks.  Whilst we are packing the shopping away, he arrives home. “Here it is,” he announces.  He takes his iPod and shoves it into Dee’s face.  Peanut butter toast.  I was wrong.  He did do it.  We could trust him after all.