In Their Own Words – Does He Rule the House?
This “In Their Own Words” is by Becki Becker, who has a 17-year-old son with autism. He was diagnosed at two and a half. You can read more of Becki’s writing on her blog, TheOtherSideofNormal.
I overheard a comment by a family member last weekend. He commented that Tony ruled the house – and that we all tip-toed around him.
It’s so true.
I didn’t realize how evident that was until last weekend. It’s so “normal” for us that we don’t even notice it anymore. But last weekend we were staying at my parents’ house and it really became apparent. Tony has certain “rules” that we’ve all just become accustomed to. We’ve all adjusted because he can’t. It’s not easy and it makes for a very tense environment sometimes. Here’s what I noticed: (keep in mind there is no explanation for any of these – they just are …)
Rule #1: Do not yawn. Especially no yawning and talking at the same time.
Rule #2: Do not have loud background noise. That means TVs, radios, computers, vacuums, or hand mixers (can use, but need to alert him first).
Rule #3: Do not sneeze and scream at the same time (some people do that without realizing it).
Rule #4: Do not say “blah, blah, blah …” while speaking.
Rule #5: I need to see all your old photographs when I visit.
Rule #6: I also need to take a mental inventory of all your DVDs, and any VHS movies you may have.
Rule #7: I rule the TV. I will block the other channels while I’m here, but will unblock them before I go.
Rule #8: No loud unexpected laughter. Please.
Rule #9: Unlimited baths are expected.
Rule #10: Friday night is pizza night. It must be gluten-free.
Rule #11: I need to touch you on the chin and the head every time you yawn, sneeze, or sing.
Rule #12: Keep things orderly and predictable. Please. I need to know the schedule.
Rule #13: No deviations in the schedule. Please.
Rule #14: Absolutely do not change your mind or give me more options.
There are so many other things I could add, so many that they don’t even seem odd to me anymore. To all those we’ve visited, I’m sorry. I hope it doesn’t reflect as bad parenting. It is what it is. It’s part of his disorder — some of these rules come and go, some have been around for years.
What is the lesson here? I’d appreciate any and all advice. In the meantime, we will continue to follow the rules. Because it keeps peace in our house. And peace of mind is all we’re asking for …
“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.