Saturday, May 30, 2020

This Is What Autism Looks Like


This past Thursday, I woke up and soon threw my neck and upper back out. A great amount of pain followed. Ice, heat, repeat. I took some ibuprofen, located the CBD oil and prayed the pain would leave me soon. It did not. As the hours wore on, the pain increased. It not only increased, it became immobilizing.  I was discouraged and was so upset because I had four days set aside to do as much as I possibly could around my house. I have fallen behind on everything, as my focus has been work and my clients and distance learning for my kids.

I usually check on Zach frequently and I just wasn't up to the task. I couldn't imagine walking upstairs, checking on him, and walking back down, after I had I finally gotten comfortable and was propped up with pillows and an ice pack.  So I just didn't go to check. I called upstairs to him a few times, but didn't visually go to see him.

I should have known that something was wrong when he seemed to be spending a long time upstairs and then I realized he was in my room that whole time.  When I finally got up and went upstairs, I found this disaster.  The only way I can describe this is- This is what Autism looks like.

The night before Josh lost his work keys when he got home from work. He looked everywhere. He opened every drawer, overturned every ottoman, looked under every table and under every bed.  He looked in my purse, checked the cracks in his car, and even second guessed himself wondering if could have left the keys at work.

Zach witnessed all of this searching and constant overturning of items. Of sorting, or getting down on the floor and getting back up again. Zach asked what happened and Josh simply stated that he had lost his work keys and was trying to find them.

When I saw the state of my master closet floor, I knew exactly what I was looking at. Zach had continued the searching right where Josh had left off.  Zach had knocked almost every item of clothing off of the shelves in our closet and threw them on the floor. Everything that had once been folded in organized on the shelves was in a haphazard mess on the floor and in some places, piled up to my knees.

I panicked and hollered for Zach who had quickly left the room when I entered.  When he came back in, my frustration level was high.

"Zach, what did you do?! Why is everything on the floor? You are not allowed in my closet!"
In pain and totally defeated, tears poked at the corners of my eyes. How was I going to clean all of this up when I was in so much pain? The daunting task overwhelmed me and full on tears began to flow.

"I was trying to find dad's keys. I did not find them."  Zach calmly said. "Mom, are you crying? Oh, mom is sad."

This is what Autism looks like.  Floors filled with discarded clothing.  Parents crying and confused. Children unaware that they have done something they shouldn't have.  And then the understanding came.  Zach had created this mess, because he thought he was actually helping his dad look for his keys. He wasn't asked to help, but in his beautiful heart, he wanted to.  He wanted to help his dad that he loves. And clothes on the floor and a mess that I couldn't clean up was the byproduct.

I explained to him, that dad would find his keys, that he isn't allowed in my closet, and that he needs to remember never to touch clothes or stuff in the linen closet which has been a problem in the past. He said okay, and left the bedroom. And in Zach's eyes, that was it.

My heart softened a bit.  Zach thought he was helping. Zach wanted to find the keys. I wiped my last few tears.  I was able to get down on the floor in the closet. Sitting among all the clothes, too many clothes, I started to slowly fold one shirt, and then another. To create a pile for shorts, and then capri pants. If I kept my elbows low, I was able to feel little pain. I folded clothing and stacked them until the need to lay down overtook me.


Here on Saturday evening,  I still do not have a closet that is organized and put back together. I would say that I have maybe 50% of the work completed. I do little bits when I can.  And I am okay with that.  Reflecting on my upset and my tears, I realized that this just happened to coincide when I was in pain and out of commission. Zach wasn't trying to be destructive and cause a huge mess. The huge mess happened to be the outcome of Zach not understanding how to methodically search for something that was missing.  The huge mess happened to be the outcome of Zach trying to help.

Praying tomorrow is an easier day and that the pain begins to subside.  But also I hope that I can slow down a bit more when something unpredictable happens. When something doesn't go my way or a road block prevents me from carrying out what I had planned for the day.  Especially when it comes to something like this.  This is what Autism looks like.  And I learn from this sweet kid daily.

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