Today, making her second appearance this month, is Frances from My Name Is Not Autism
Won’t You Take Me To Funky Town?
My son Sean is weeks away from becoming an official teen-ager. However, puberty came to town a long time ago.
While he may be autistic, when it comes to being ‘a boy’, he is as typical as can be. His once tidy room is slowly being taken over by some mysterious mess monster. The concept of ‘away’ applies more to the family as in ‘go away’ than it does in ‘put things away.’ Clothes are strewn about. Undoubtedly they will be worn again and again before making their way (on their own legs!) to the vicinity of the hamper. Notice I said vicinity, putting clothes in the hamper is the home version of playing horseshoes. Close is good enough. As for hygiene… well… that’s another thing altogether.
Let’s just say that when the ‘funk’ starts wafting into the hallway and displacing the air that I breathe, it’s time for an intervention.
First is the cubby on his loft bed. It’s an extra space that runs the entire length of the bed. He likes to keep his treasures in it as well as various pieces of previously worn clothing. It’s up high and even though I think of myself as fairly agile, climbing into his loft bed day after day to excavate is not something on my list of things to do. How many t-shirt-and-shorts combos will there be? Two? Three? A record six?
Down they come.
Now it’s time for Sean….
You just can’t tell Sean to take a shower. He is, after all, autistic. Taking a shower for him means standing under the stream of water for 60 seconds…or less.
For 12 years old…bordering on 13… that is not going to cut it.
I had forgotten how literal he took instructions until the day when he did, in fact, walk out of the shower shortly after entering.
I joked, “Did you use soap?”
“No, you didn’t tell me to.”
Ha, ha, the joke was on me.
He headed back to the shower with me calling after him, “Don’t forget the shampoo!”
I shook my head. Oh, that boy….
Thankfully, Sean is a master at brushing his teeth and flosses more than ADA recommended. Four out of five dentists would agree….
Sean’s autism means that he will tune you out faster than a teenager getting caught sneaking in after curfew. It’s not intentional. It’s merely a fact due to how he processes things. Therefore, we have to keep our instructions simple. “Brush & Flush” means brush your teeth and use the toilet. “Deodorize” means put on your deodorant.
I swear Sean’s been using the same deodorant stick for three years now! Does it even touch his armpit or is he playing me by going through the motions?
Again, that boy makes me wonder. Sean may be autistic but in many, many, sometimes smelly ways, he is as typical as can be.
Brushed. Flushed. Deodorized. Officially de-funked.
Sean and his world are clean.
Frances Lehning is a married mother of three children living in the northwest suburbs outside of Chicago, Illinois. Her twelve-year-old son Sean was diagnosed with Autism at the end of 1st grade. Frances also has two daughters – 11 year-old Carissa and 5 year-old Ashley. She is the author of the blog, My Name Is Not Autism, at www.mynameisnotautism.blogspot.com. In her posts she writes candidly of the triumphs and challenges, as well as her own internal struggles, as she helps her son navigate his world.