Do you have any memories that made you think about the way you think? I remember years ago coming back from a walk with my Dad, at the bottom of our close there was a rickety old fence with all brambles growing over it. It looked more like a gate than a fence and I mentioned it to Dad and he laughed and told me to look over it, there was an old car on the other side. So, I looked over and sure enough, there was a car completely covered in brambles, just a small patch was clear on the bonnet. As I turned away, I thought hang on a minute, what was on that car! I played the scene over in my head as I looked back over the fence, and sure enough, was just in time to see the tail of a fox disappear. My point is, my subconscious mind had seen the fox, but my conscious mind which was expecting to see the car - hadn't. I had seen a fox all curled up snoozing in the sun but it didn't register immediately.
In my quest to understand my autistic son, I have gone down all sorts of interesting avenues. And it appears, that most of the time we just run on autopilot. This is apparently a survival tactic, which allows our brains to work on more important stuff than 'have I flushed the toilet?', which is why all of us do things on auto, which leaves you sometimes wondering, 'did I shut the front door, is the gas still on etc.' Well, when you deal with autism, auto pilot isn't really an option, because nothing is ever really routine.
Last week, the children broke up from school. I went and visited my mum and dad on Thursday. As we waved goodbye and drove down the bottom of the close I saw something on the other side of the road that took me a moment to figure out. There was a trolley from my mum and dads garden, I knew instantly what had happened. We had a lovely time playing in the garden, Edward kept climbing up the back gate to undo the catch in a bid for freedom and we kept stopping him. As I was mashing the potatoes at the end of the day, I heard the gate bang. I shouted to my sister to see if Ed had got out. She had a look and said, 'no, he must be inside.' Well, I knew he wasn't, so I ran out and shouted his name, and a few minutes latter he came round the corner all smiles. Margaret said to me, 'he must have been in someones drive because I looked down there and couldn't see him.' Ah, the pieces of the jigsaw all fitted together. He hadn't been in anyones drive, he had run down the close with the trolley, crossed the road and left it on the grass verge, crossed the road and come back! As I played this out in my mind, I worked out all the scenarios with cars and no cars (thankfully it wasn't a busy road) and I thought to myself, my God, he could have been killed! So I played that out in my head, and I thought, well, I would be upset and very sad, but I wouldn't spend my life with the could have, should have poison. The truth is, I do my very best with him, I can look anyone in the eye and say I do my best. Sure, I could do more, but I need to have enough energy to get up and do it again and again, not just for a day. He keeps running out of our front door as well, to pick up things he has thrown out of the window. My friends have suggested a small latch at the top of the door, that apparently keeps their kids at bay. Would it be an issue for Ed, fat chance. He climbed up the back fence and undid it, he would pull up a chair and undo whatever latch I put on, he climbs up the handles of the fridge to get at the goodies in the cupboard above! I could lock the front door, but that's a fire hazard, anyway, he gets the keys and undoes it so whats the point. We all have to live there, not just Ed. Last night late I picked up my eldest from the airport and told him what had happened whilst he had been away. I told him the story of the runaway trolley and he said, 'Ed is like a ginger ninja' and I couldn't think of a better description for him.
Maybe the fact that autistic children don't spend time on auto-pilot adds to their sensory overload. They are constantly aware all the time. Perhaps that is part of the puzzle when they melt down. When we say melt down, you need to imagine your child having the worst temper tantrum, upset, that you have ever witnessed, and then imagine what it would look like if they were on steroids or crack cocaine! Thankfully, those have calmed down - touch wood - and whilst they are still a regular feature, they don't last all day and are bearable. Maybe as he grows older, that auto pilot bit is beginning to happen.
PS apologise for the last post, I understand that auto spell corrected google to goggle! I thought I had managed to change them all. x