Yes, you read the title correctly. I haven’t showered in a week. Gross? Absolutely. Avoidable? Unfortunately, not so much.
When I first started looking into autism, people like Autism Speaks (which I already covered here) had me convinced that I would never have a normal life; my child would take up all of my time and attention, and if I tried to leave the house, my child would make it such a nightmare that I would lock myself in my house and never leave again. No friends, no support, ever.
Thankfully, this is not the case. Buddy is a joy, and I remain absolutely fascinated by him. Just the other day, he was looking out our car window and piped up, “Mama, look!” I turned to look, but I couldn’t figure out what he saw that was making him so excited.
“What is it, Buddy?”
“Look! The world is so beautiful!” He turned to look at me, complete happiness on his face. He was right, and I was delighted to know he could see it.
So, no. My son doesn’t ruin my life or turn me into a hermit. The world does that.
Each morning before school, I wake up an hour before it’s time to leave. It takes me that long to get myself and my children up and dressed; Buddy doesn’t eat breakfast, but the other two do. Buddy’s issue is he can’t tell the front from the back, so I often have to help him redress. There are companies out there who make reversible clothes, but his school doesn’t accept them. He has to wear a strict uniform. I drop the boys off at school, and I usually have to stop by Buddy’s school to address an issue.
Today’s issue was Buddy’s previous school hadn’t sent his records to the new school, and the deadline was today. The school informed me that Buddy had to go home. I reminded them that his missing school would hurt him, he’d miss therapy, and he wouldn’t understand why he got to go home. It seems that Buddy’s old school, a special needs school, wanted Buddy back, and they were determined to make our move to the new school as big an issue as possible in the hopes that I would bring him back. No.
I got into an argument with the nurse about Buddy remaining in school. I fought with the front office. We called the old school. I decided that Buddy should remain in school today, and since he had tomorrow off, I would head over to his old school and not leave until they gave me his records. The nurse refused, even though I explained how messing up his routine and letting him think he could leave school early for seemingly no reason would hurt him. Over an hour after school had started, the old school finally sent his records, and all was well.
As I was preparing to leave, someone from the office called out to me. “Ma’am, you may want to go back to your son. There’s an issue.”
Worried, I went back only to find that his iPad had died. The school uses an iPad if they know something is coming that is going to be too much, and it isn’t important for him to pay attention. It tends to involve a lot of noise and chaos, like being in a room when the band practices. Irritated, I took the iPad upstairs to charge, which is supposed to be done at the end of every school day, and signed out a new one.
After I dropped it off, I decided to go back upstairs and talk to the special ed coordinator. I informed her of the issue, reminded her to remind the teacher about it, and let her know he did well at his dental appointment the day before, but may be a little fussy and clingy today. She wrote everything down and promised to handle it.
By this time, Lily is almost late for her playgroup. Since she gives up a lot for Buddy, I make sure she gets there every week. After playgroup is a rush home, we have lunch together, and I contact anyone that needed it; today, it was to remind his teacher to charge the iPad, and that I would be picking him up in the classroom instead of his being dismissed to my car so he could buy a book with the money his great grandmother had given him for Halloween.
Lily and I then prepare everything that needs to be returned to the library from the previous week, as we go after school on Thursdays. I wash whatever dishes were used for lunch and ensure that dinner is ready to cook later, such as pulling meat out of the freezer or marinating it. We head out and pick up the boys.
After school on Thursdays, the library has a math club. It’s really helped Buddy with his math and socialization skills. They do something different every week, so it’s helping his coping with flexibility as well. He’s been trying a lot of new things because of it, so it’s another thing I work to make sure we don’t miss. We’re usually there for half an hour, but today was different. Today, Buddy was going to pick out a book from the book fair at school first.
The flier for the book fair had the date listed until tomorrow, but there wasn’t any school tomorrow, and his Halloween money hadn’t arrived until the previous day. I picked him up from the classroom without an issue, but when we went to the book fair, it was closed. They had shut it down early.
Buddy has never been into books, but he had seen one about Plants vs Zombies, one of his favorite games. I had been excited about his actually being excited about a book. We were both upset to see it closed early. I asked, begged, pleaded, and scolded the women running it. asking them to reopen it so he could buy the book. Buddy just stood there, silently crying. They had none it. “It’s been a long week,” was their explanation. “We just want to go home.”
I eventually gave up and squatted in front of Buddy. I reminded him that since there was no school tomorrow, we could go to a bookstore and get one. He fussed, not understanding why they wouldn’t let him have a book. It took some time, but he finally accepted what I told him, and we went to the library.
Unfortunately, his routine had been disrupted and he was in a bad mood when we arrived. The trip to the library took longer than usual — twice as long. By the time we got home, I had to rush to make dinner, get the kids showered and ready and in bed. With Buddy upset, he didn’t drop off easily. Now, at 11pm, he is finally asleep, but I’m so tired that my head hit the desk several times while writing this as I dozed off (This is typed up and waiting for a time I’m more awake to review it before I post it). I promise myself that I’ll shower tomorrow.
But that’s what I said yesterday. And the day before.
This week, I’ve had to deal with my own family members coming to town, whom Buddy had to live with for a few months when I first moved to set up a better life for us.This has made him clingy, upset, confused, and worried she’s coming to take him away. It’s made worse by the fact that my mother doesn’t believe autism is real, and she tries to treat him like any other kid. It doesn’t work that way, and he doesn’t handle it well. It’s a regular battle with her, and I avoid her if possible.
I also had to deal with the dentist. Long story short, our regular dentist is more interested in rushing people along so he can see more patients in a day than he is interested in taking the time to make sure Buddy is comfortable. Buddy picked up on his attitude right away, and the visit was a disaster. They referred us to a specialist, who is a dream. They were completely understanding about my bringing Buddy by once in a while in the days leading up to his appointment so he could get used to the idea and meet the dentist. They treated him like he was the reason they were there, and they were going to have so much fun! Unfortunately, they found my fear: he had a cavity. So, yesterday, he went in for a filling. Since he cannot tolerate anything in his mouth, even certain foods, they had to sedate him. This led to him being very groggy the rest of the day, and I had to wait by him to help him if he needed anything, such as to go to the bathroom. He is not a light boy. By the time he dozed off, my entire body was sore, and I slept on the floor near him, unable to move.
Add in my own schoolwork, taking care of the house, the cat, Lily, the car, the yard, every day life, and the only way I would be able to take a shower would be if I sacrificed what little sleep I get. I have some health issues, and I have been warned repeatedly that I need 8-10 hours every night, or they would get worse. I’m lucky if I get six hours, but I haven’t told my doctor that yet.
Buddy isn’t the issue. The issue comes when I have to stop a student from clapping his hands loudly near Buddy, as he doesn’t understand that Buddy hated loud noises, and it causes him physical pain, but the teacher doesn’t do anything about it. It comes from scolding the school for letting him out before I get there, when they know he tends to wander/elope. It comes from arguing with the school board for them to make their school more autism-friendly, such as lowering the sound of the speakers, hiring substitutes that don’t scream at the kids, and asking them to release the special needs kids a bit earlier than the others. It comes from educating people that my son is not “retarded.”
I’ve heard a lot of people benefit from having a pet with them when they go out into the world. I don’t want/need a pet. I need another person who can fight this fight with me, who isn’t afraid to go to the schools and dentists and hair salons and demand fair treatment, who will educate people on what it means to be autistic and how they can be more aware of their actions and consequences. Maybe if I didn’t have to battle so much alone, I could find 15 minutes to take a shower.