As you may know, April is Autism Awareness month. On World Autism Day, April 2, I wrote The Story of J, Part One . This part of the story tells a bit about his personality.
These days I typically wake up around four o'clock in the morning. It's not because I like getting up that early or that I have a paid job that requires it. No, it's usually because I hear J in his room giggling and singing, or I hear water running and his singing. What does he sing about? Food, mostly. Like any teenager the moment he wakes up his mind is on how hungry he is. If it isn't about food, sometimes it's hard to tell what he's singing, but there is a recognizable melody most times.
If J were ever to work with or become an interior designer or an organizational specialist, I would not be surprised. He has definite opinions as to what belongs where, and his taste is rather definite. In J's world, things should be put away. I agree with him, but it doesn't always happen as quickly as either of us would like sometimes so he takes it upon himself to place it where he thinks it should be. Usually in a hidden place only he knows about. If you catch it quick enough, all you have to do is say, "All right J, where's it at?" (Bad English skills there, but yup, that's what happens at home sometimes). This elicits a blank look, especially if for whatever reason the name of the object isn't making a connection for him. Then we point to the space where the object had been and command, Go get it. That he understands, most of the time. I've caught glimpses of his sense of humor as he sometimes waits for that one magic word that sadly I say a lot: NOW! Then he smiles and retrieves whatever it was we were looking for.
As for J's design taste, it apparently clashes with mine. It's hard to describe what it is he likes for certain, but he knows what he doesn't like and the offending items usually go out the window. Literally, out the window. Granted, that tends to be his method of cleaning his room sometimes. I walk outside and under his window there may be clothes, a blanket, or a pair of shoes that he's thrown out at least three times in two days. (We've checked: the shoes fit, and he seems to be comfortable when he wears them, he just doesn't like them). Other things that haven't made the grade: a plate I made in the 90's. He didnt want it displayed so he shoved it behind my china cabinet before I could hang it up on the wall. I put it inside the cabinet and all was well for awhile. He has taken it out and pretended to bite it. A figurine I've had for years, he despises. It is currently under my kitchen sink, right where he placed it. It fared better than a decorative Christmas piece I was given, though. I don't know what about that house he didn't like but in his mind it had to go. First was a part that he broke off. Annoying, but I could fix it. Then he placed it under the kitchen sink. Not good enough. While I was in another room I heard him in the bathroom, then I heard a crash. I investigated the bathroom and saw nothing. Then I went outside. On my porch, which is just close enough to the bathroom window (don't blame me, it's an older house that was designed badly) was the Christmas decoration, smashed to bits.
He wasn't angry, didn't have a meltdown. He simply did not like it. I have yet to figure out his thought process on what is acceptable and what isn't. Although I'm not happy to see things destroyed, I guess I should be grateful that the stuff he detests isn't valuable and he hasn't hurt himself or anyone else getting rid of it.
Water has always been a soothing element for J. Although I fear for my water bill, I don't usually say much when he heads for the shower. He knows it calms him. It might prove cheaper in the long run to have a pool but two things prevent that: one, we don't have the room in our yard. Most importantly, even if I tried my hardest I can't watch him every second of the day and night and pools are too much of a temptation for many with autism. I've heard too many accounts of a child with autism going missing and then being found dead in a body of water. Even if a child isn't autistic drowning happens all too often. It's not a risk I'm willing to take. I'm actually grateful that J rarely goes outside by himself and he hasn't noticed that just inside a neighbor's gate is a pool.
As far as exercise is concerned, J isn't one to volunteer for it. He's much rather sit and listen to music. Lately I've figured out that I need exercise, and my family does too. While I could walk faster and longer without J, I don't really like leaving him alone so for the past week, minus a few days, he's been walking with me and The Hubby.
This is something we've done sporadically in the past, but I want it to be a more permanent fixture. We've learned rather quickly that the car has to be locked, otherwise J will plant himself firmly in his seat and it nearly takes an act of Congress to get him to budge. Much to his surprise though, he is actually enjoying getting outside and walking.
All in all, J is happy. He likes routine, his own brand of order, and just being comfy. Most of the time he likes going to church. He is comfortable there, and many talk directly to him. He enjoys the singing. He watches everything going on. Yes, there are times when he's tired to the point of being silly but we try to keep him quiet. He has areas there that allow him to calm down if he's over stimulated.
This post seems a little choppy, but then, J's life is like that: mostly routine, but his mind and body are rarely still for long. As for me, I'm grateful he's allowed me to sit and write this long. I'm glad you've glimpsed a little more into J's life, but if you'll excuse us, it's breakfast time.