Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Friday, January 2, 2015

Are you Here?:

     After more than a year and a half, my niece, Alexis is leaving us. I think the noise that is Dude
finally just ran her out. Not really, but whenever possible I try to blame stuff on Dude. He doesn't care, and who knows? Some of it could actually be his fault.... No, probably not.
   Anyway, Alex is leaving, a situation that Dude has no real concept of. To illustrate: Alexis is often leaving about the same time that Dave is waiting for, or Raine is putting him on the bus. This happens several times every week. Since she works quite some distance from the house, and she sometimes works a bit later than strictly necessary she often gets home well after the time Dude has already eaten and has lost himself in GameLand. He acts shocked almost every time he finally sees her. Often gushing over the fact that she's managed to find the house yet again, and hugging her like he only makes the reunions once every 20 years or so. I know she's not from here, but after the first time, I pretty much figured she had it down. Dave takes nothing for granted though, and is surprised every time.
     One of the few times we were out of the house when Alex got home, we walked in and by the time I got in the house Dave was already hugging her. Hanging all over her neck and saying, 'Alex! It's been so long since we've seen you!' She smiled. 'You made it! It's so good to see you again!' Alexis laughed and looked at me. I shrugged, 'It's almost like he didn't just see you 12 hours ago.' She laughed again, 'I know, right?' Of course, once it had been established that this was indeed his cousin and that she hadn't somehow been substituted by Pod People from the Planet Mars, or at least one of his other cousins, (pretty much the same thing) he completely ignored her for the rest of the night.
You see, Dave sometimes condenses his affection and worry and then gets it all out at once in a waterfall of emotion, and once it's used up... that's it. You're done. Next!
     Other times, it's as if he can't be bothered to check with his senses what's actually going on right at that moment. Most of the time when we leave the house it's just he and I, and he'll stop at the door, shoot out an open palm toward Raine, 'You stay here! We'll be right back.' Not that he's trying to confine her to the house... No one has to do that, she could be under house arrest and never know the difference. He forges ahead anyway, 'You can find us at the Game Store!'  She stares back at him in sweat pants, slippers and sleep shirt, obviously (to anyone but a Dude) not planning on going anywhere. She just raises an eyebrow and flatly states, 'Okay then... I'll just stay right here.' Of course by this time David's trying to shove his slow father into the car, so I'm not even sure if he hears her.
     And then there are times when he is exactly on point. When he's even more observant and in the moment than anyone around him. I'm not exactly setting any standards for observational awareness, but I can't count the times David has brought me up short. Once we went to a department store called Boscoff's at the mall. Now we've been to the mall and that store any number of times. I've been upstairs and downstairs and to every corner of both floors. It's a pretty good sized, but I was pretty
sure I'd been to every corner of the place at one time or another. I was not correct. As we were walking toward the store, Dude said, 'We'll go into the Boscoff's and take the elevator to the second floor!' 'Escalator' I said, automatically. 'He takes the Elevator.' He stated emphatically. 'Dave,' I explained patiently, 'There's no elevator in Boscoff's. We're taking the Escalator.' He looked at me earnestly and almost pleaded, 'It's only the elevators, around the corner... in the (something) Department.' 'Dave,' I said, flatly, concentrating on whatever silly crap I was there to pick up, 'we're taking the escalators and that's it.' Me? Stubborn? Nah!
      And so we went in and used the escalator. Damn it! Although he did seem to be a bit reluctant to follow me when we first entered the store, but we went upstairs and fruitlessly searched for whatever it was that I wanted, listening to him bitch about the elevator the whole time. 'It's just the elevators.' and, 'He uses the elevators for the Field Trip for the Beaver Valley Mall!' I looked at him darkly, still secure in my knowledge that there were no elevators in Boscoff's! We then wandered around the store for a minute or two and then when it was time to leave, and after 15 minutes or so of deranged rambling, I finally said, 'Okay, time to go. Lead us then to these elevators of which you speak so well.' (yes... I actually do speak like that occasionally. Dave's not the only Drama Dude) Dave shot through the length of the store, dragging his large parent with him, directly to the little 4 person elevator underneath a discrete, but quite large, lit up neon sign which read elevator Elevator in 1 foot high, bright blue letters. I mean, what were they trying to do? Hide it? If they wanted anyone to find it, why did they hide it under all that glowing neon? I mean, c'mon! What do they think we are? Bloodhounds? 
     Two weeks before Christmas Alexis moved to live with some friends in Cali. It's a week after Christmas and Dave still mentions that 'He has to wait for the Alex before he locks the door.' or 'When Alex gets home..... ' It's sometimes (always) hard to tell what he will and will not pay attention to... unless it has cheese on it. He always pays attention to cheese. Or Ranch Dressing... that'll get his attention. So I guess all I have to do is... no. That's just too silly to contemplate. There's no way I'm going to carry Ranch and Cheese wherever I go just to get his attention.

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