Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Friday, August 14, 2009

Are You Sure This is What I Signed Up For?:

Last Saturday Raine and I were kind of haphazardly doing our weekend housework when, during a break right at noon, David walked down the stairs until he could peek under the ceiling, took a quick look at us lounging on the couch, gusted a huge sigh, and without a word turned around and clomped back up the stairs, shut the bedroom door and resumed his game. We looked at each other and cracked up laughing because even without words we both knew exactly what Dude was saying. "It's lunchtime, and instead of making my Mac&Cheese these two are laying around the front room like out of work actors."

I always wondered early on what it was going to be like as Dude grew up, and in my naive mental ramblings I always imagined that I'd be the one in charge. Foolish boy that I was. Autism was, and is, so little understood that no one really knows what it is. There isn't a psychiatrist, psychologist, doctor or mental health specialist in the land that doesn't have a theory, or someone with just as many letters after their name calling them 7 kinds of idiot (in finest medical prose, of course) When Dave was diagnosed the two most common causal theories were either A) a genetic defect causing a physical abnormality , or B) Lack of Vitamin A during pregnancy leading to a chemical imbalance in the brain. The longest lasting (although not most popular) idea is that Autistic children are actually so much smarter than the rest of us that they are unable to communicate on our level. After 15 years I'm ready to give that third one a good listening to. In the beginning I thought that given my son's 'disadvantaged mental state' (yeah, right) that I would but speak firmly enough, think far enough ahead, and watch carefully enough and control would be mine. I actually had some pity for 'typical parents' who would have to go through all the vagaries of child rearing. The uncertainties of children growing to adulthood and dealing with the frustrations of growing independence. They can have it, I thought, I'll always have the upper hand with David, and he'll always be with me. Well, I was half right anyway. Ok. I'll admit, I didn't foresee the note about Dave pinching women's butts when he was 12, but I thought I had most everything else pretty much covered.

Dude and I have a deal (as I've mentioned before) he brings home good notes from school for an entire week and we go to the GameStop and pick him out a game. It's a good system and, for the most part, it works pretty well. At least I thought so until this last week when Dave took me to school in the art of the loophole. It seems I overlooked the fact that there was no provision for the Summer in our deal. I had assumed that meant that there would be no GameStoppage for that time except for random visits as the mood took me. Dave had an entirely different outlook on the matter. Since I had placed no restrictions on the Summer he decided this gave him the opportunity to construct his own version of our deal. According to his variation as long as he didn't get into any trouble the 5 days of the week that the nurse was watching him (she doesn't write notes, we talk when I get home) that meant that we would naturally go to his Virtual Nirvana and a whole new batch of heroes for him to control. So when I came home from work last Friday he greeted me with, "I got the good notes, so GameStop on Saturday!, He's (I've) been a good boy." I had to admit, in all honesty, that he had indeed been a good boy but was not yet willing to give in, when he played his Ace Card. He'd somehow enlisted Jackie (the nurse that watches him) in his scheme! She said something to the tune of, "Oh he's really been looking forward to going to the game store!" and something like, "Isn't it so great that you take him to get games!"

Let's review: My non-conversational, 'mentally challenged' son not only worked out a new structure for obtaining games, but enlisted an accomplice in order to back his father into a corner. Naturally I wasn't going to stand for such blatant blackmail. After all, I'm the parent. I make the rules. I supply the structure. I have the control!!
He loves his new Wolverine's Revenge game. As a matter of fact he's already beaten it, so I'm waiting to see what his next game obtaining scheme will be. Yeah, parent.... structure.... control.... Riiiiiiight.

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