A Few Observations About Autism

  1. Voice Volume Anomalies are a Thing. Some of my people use a volume of voice that is wrong (i.e. extremely loud) in most situations. When I remind them to use a quiet voice, they stage whisper. This means we either have “bullhorn loud” or “still-loud stage whisper.” Both can be heard from a couple miles away.
  2. Autism Rejects Change. Case in point, when returning from my parents’ house recently, construction blocked our usual exit—the one by McDonald’s, where Jack expected fries. Jack tightly squeezed Jeff’s arm. Jack kicked Jeff. Jack shredded a bunch of napkins and papers. “Autism rejects your change of exits,” Jeff proclaimed, as I drove us to a different exit by a different McDonald’s.
  3. Sleep is a Big Deal. When my kids do not get to bed on time, they do not simply sleep late the next day. They wake up at exactly the same time, no matter what. Unless they are exceptionally sleep deprived, in which case they wake even earlier the next morning. I don’t get it. But it happens. When my kids do not get enough sleep, they express their exhaustion and inability to cope in the form of a succession of rapid-fire meltdowns stretching from afternoon to evening. It’s the witching hour on crack.
  4. Extreme Laser-Focus/Obsessive Tendencies Exist. When Truman wants a DRINK OF COLD WATER on the ride home from the cabin, but Jack has dumped all the containers of water out into the dirt, Truman will scream “I WANT A DRINK OF COLD WATER!” the entire hour drive home, except when he falls asleep when you get to your neighborhood.
  5. Innocence is Real. My boys on the spectrum are guileless. They are sweet. They don’t lie. They don’t try to manipulate. They are genuine without even trying.
  6. Progress is Slow, But Still Progress. My kids do things on their own timetable. They don’t potty train when their peers do. They don’t learn to read in the same time frame. Learning to tie their shoes and swim and dress themselves all take a great while. These differences in learning schedules once made me blue and fearful. But time has shown me that my kids learn at their own pace, but they still learn. They are making progress, even though learning some things is hard. The littlest victories mean more when they are hard won.

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