Pop by our home unexpectedly and you're sure to find a mess...
Or three, purposely ignored in favour of fun. Doubtless, there will be dishes in the sink and paperwork threatening to fall off the table. If it's early on a weekend, I'll be unshowered and disheveled...tackling the "dirty work" in yesterday's castoffs. There will be chaos. You'll marvel to find me just barely balancing on one foot, while every other limb is doing it's own thing. I like to think of it as a finely choreographed ballet in which one hand can sign off on med. forms and mail, while the other stirs the pot and the foot nudges things into their place. In all likelihood though, it's probably more like a tornado.
Pop by unexpectedly, and you'll find me multitasking.
You'll have to look harder though, to find Mister Man.
Check the corners, the dark ones. Or the furniture, underneath.
|Boy...with a blanket...and a book...in a basket.|
Because in our home, Autism is part of the design.
Since he was but a wee little one, Mister Man has been wedging himself into small spaces. Cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, dog cages...no enclosure hasn't at least been attempted. A former friend in Ohio was moving and brought over a small bench she thought I might like for my entryway. We left it on it's side, heading to the kitchen for a moment for refreshments. Mister Man, never one to miss an opportunity, flipped it onto it's back and wedged himself into the bottom, there to chortle happily to himself when we returned. The following day found him snug as a bug in that bench bottom, complete with a pillow, blanket, and sippy cup. I learned early on to stockpile boxes and bins. Friends with babies knew to drop off their bulk diaper boxes. The stockboy at Kroger would save me cardboard milk crates. And every trip to Aldi's netted at least a few empty cartons. I made sure to keep duct tape in stock for repairs, and art supplies at hand for imagination transformations. My living room was littered with airplanes and trucks and boats, all made from boxes and all suitable for just one passenger. I learned to go with the flow. And to guard my laundry baskets behind a locked basement door!
|Even when he's not in it...he's "on it".|
Laundry basket lover!
If, on a morning in May, my son wasn't in bed when I groggily padded to his bedroom, I knew to check the hamper in the closet. By June, I'd installed a nightlight in said closet. I gated off the kitchen at one point, after someone emptied out all the contents of the refrigerator and then restocked it...with himself!
We had a laundry chute that ran from the top floor down to the concrete basement. I was ever-fearful that he'd become curious and try to wedge himself into the hole. Thankfully, that never happened. Locks on the kitchen cabinets and oven were a must. I bought the magnetic kind and then hid the magnet...so well, in fact, that we had to eat takeout for several days until I remembered it's secret locale! A burgeoning friendship with a gal I worked with came to a dead stop when my son locked himself in her dog's cage during a holiday dinner. I was thoroughly non-plussed, but apparently it was all too much for her to handle.
|Just. Add. Postage!|
With his eventual diagnosis came the marvelous new term "Proprioceptive Input"...the keyword in understanding Mister Man's ongoing obsession with small spaces. He was, as I had suspected, finding some degree of comfort in an uncomfortable world. The close-fit spaces he was so fond of provided him with calming sensory input. And, moreover, gave him a safety zone in which to be himself.
Pop by unexpectedly and you'll find him, so long as you know where to look. Check the laundry basket beside his empty chair. Or the space right behind it. Look on the bed, at that small huddled mass. Or behind the cardboard sheet angled against the wall.
|Can't find a small space?|
Will create one!
While you're visiting, note the spares...flat boxes I buy from home depot at $5 a pop and stockpile behind my dresser. Lift the top off the ottomans and see where I filled them chock-full of Legos so there's no room for him to hide away inside.
|Home Depot boxes:the best gift ever!|
Perhaps you'll see his spinning office chair, or see the portable spinner that can go atop any chair hiding under the kitchen island. Proprioceptive input again. Spinning and rocking and leaning...
Leaning to close for comfort. The boy practically climbing onto-into me in restaurants and stores.
The boy all snuggled up in a full length winter-weight robe...at the breakfast table outside on a hot summer day. I'll be the one perspiring in a tank and shorts. The boy piling blankets on our laps at the open-air theatre, despite the heat and humidity...and the melting Mami.
|High 80's and humid as a swamp...|
but just look at that smile!
Pop by unexpectedly and you'll see the chaos and the calm...the mess and the order...
Pop by and you'll see that this home of ours is an Autism home. There's thought gone into every inch...from floor to ceiling, and every nook and cranny in between.