In my attempt to get out the door this morning and get the boys to school, there was the usual fighting, bickering, and hitting. They fought and bickered and hit each other continuously from the kitchen to the garage to the van. As they buckled their seat belts and I started the van, SB yelled, “Stop it! Why are you always hitting me?” And AB replied, “Because we have a tism!”
“What?” I asked groggily as I put the van in reverse. “What’s a tism?”
“You know,” said AB. “Autism.”
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I put the van back in park. Why do these “you must stop and talk about it right now” moments always happen before my caffeine has kicked in? Moments like “how do babies get inside their mommy’s tummies?” or “how long does it take to get to heaven?” These questions always seem to come early in the morning when my brain is still foggy.
We have talked to the boys about autism, and we read them this book: “I Have Autism: A Child’s First Look at Autism” by Pat Crissey. It does a really good job of explaining autism in a very simple manner. We aren’t shy about using the “A” word at our house at all. But honestly, the guys hardly ever talk about it. SB does talk about how his ADHD meds make him feel, and that he can tell that he feels differently when he doesn’t take them. But neither of them talks about how they have autism, and sometimes I wonder if they even hear me when I bring it up. Clearly, they do.
“Yes, that’s right.” I said. “You both have autism. This does make some things hard for you. Can you think of some things that might be hard for you because of autism?”
“Let’s just go let’s just go let’s just go…” said SB. It’s 7:15, we’re sitting in the van, the van is running, and we’re supposed to be backing up and leaving for school. He HATES it when I stop and talk to them when we are supposed to be leaving. It’s 7:15, for crying out loud! 7:15 is when we leave. God, Mom, don’t you know that?
“SB, I just want to talk about this for a few minutes, OK?” I said.
“Taking tests is hard for me.” Said AB.
“Really?” I said. “I think you do pretty well on tests. You’re doing great in school. I was thinking more about how it’s hard for you to go up to other kids and ask them to play with you.”
“Oh yeah. That is hard for me,” replied AB
“Let’s just go let’s just go let’s just go…” Poor SB just can’t stand it.
“And sometimes I hit SB,” said AB
“Yes, well, that’s not because of autism,” I said. “That’s just because he’s your brother and you annoy each other!”
AB laughed. SB moaned again, “Can we just GO?”
“And SB, I know that school work is sometimes hard for you. Like language arts and reading. Isn’t that hard for you sometimes?” I asked.
“Yes. Because of autism. I don’t like it. I don’t like autism,” he said.
I sighed. “I don’t always like it either, buddy. But you know what?” I paused and made sure he was paying attention. “Autism also makes you really, really cool.”
I looked right at him. I wanted this to be a moment. One of those sweet, tear-jerking moments that I could blog about that would pull at everyone’s heart-strings.
“No, I’m not cool. CAN WE JUST GOOOOOOOOOO?!?!?!?!?!?!”
OK. So it wasn’t a moment. Oh well.
I knew I was pushing it at this point, and that I’d have a meltdown on my hands if I didn’t start backing up soon. So I put the van in reverse, turned on the CD, and drove the guys to school.
That’s what’s going on here at the Burts house, folks. We have a tism. And we don’t always like it. But sometimes in life, even if you don’t like your situation, the best thing to do is to “just go!” Because you’ll get through it, tism and all.