Autism: This One Goes to Eleven


November 4, 2010 by Marj Hatzell

There are days when I’m a bit arrogant and a know-it-all and I’m all, “AUTISM?  EXPERT!” and things run smoothly and calmly and we almost feel normal around here.

Normal. Whatever that is.

Then there are days like the last two. It’s like being caught in a tennis match, except the ball moves faster than the speed of light and I get a bit dizzy. Bugaboo is fast, y’all.

See, here’s the thing about autism: When you’ve met one child with autism you’ve met ONE CHILD WITH AUTISM. It’s like snowflakes, no two are alike. Mine couldn’t be further apart in terms of functioning. You know, like onions. Onions have layers (name that movie for five points. Six if you can name the character who says it).

And children with autism? Are very complex. They have many layers, many colors, many idiosyncrasies. Many things that make them quite unique. Yes, all children are complex.  But autism? This one goes to eleven.

Even his moods go to eleven.

Trust me when I say they just push the envelope THAT MUCH FURTHER. They are just a wee bit louder. And more intense. Did I mention louder? Because Loud+autistic kids+sensory issues = HAPPY FUN TIME. Also?  Steroids + Autism + ADHD = OMG HAPPY F*CKING FUN TIME.

At least we’re never bored.

Last night Bugaboo was in a very good mood but was a bit aloof for the past two days and has been spending tons of time in his room.  Two nights ago he emptied most of his toy box and made a holy mess.  It’s a good thing I didn’t put it all back because then last night we heard all kinds of banging and moving around. We went to check on him and he had moved the toy box from his closet, across his room, out in the hall and to the top of the stairs. Where he shoved it down. The stairs (it’s a plastic one).  Then he dragged it through the foyer and kitchen to the family room. Where he proceeded to put it back in the place it was over TWO YEARS AGO. And then he climbed up, reclined on the top of it and closed his eyes. That’s when I remembered he used to climb up there with a blanket and camp out, sometimes falling asleep. And then I thought about it – he’s been trying to move that toy box for MONTHS. Maybe since I put it upstairs.  nd last night he discovered that if he took all of the toys out of it that it would be lighter and he could move it. That’s my boy.

I know those wheels are always turning. I know he is in there SOMEWHERE, even though sometimes I’m more focused on keeping the routine instead of on him.This boy has SMAHTS. He is always plotting and planning. He is always listening and formulating plans in his head. I have to remember to PRESUME INTELLIGENCE, even if he has never been able to prove that he’s as intelligent as anyone else. It dawned on me that this is why they refuse to diagnose him with MR, even though he is non-verbal. Even though he’ll never pass (let alone complete) an IQ test. Even though he has the academics of a three-year-old. His brain is eight. Heck, his brain might be fifteen. He’s in there.

So, people of the world, don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t feel sorry for him. He doesn’t need your pity. He needs your respect. He needs to be treated like everyone else. He needs to have the same opportunities. He needs you to see him for who he is, not what he can do. I’m telling you, someday this kid is going to do something amazing. Phenomenal even. He’ll show everyone. Because he’s a perfect ten to me.

Except this one goes to ELEVEN.

9 thoughts on “Autism: This One Goes to Eleven

  1. punkymama says:

    What a great story….Go Bugaboo

  2. pkzcass says:

    What is MR? Forgive me if I should know this. I’m sure that Bugaboo is WAY smarter than me these days.

  3. Dani G says:

    Agreed. Never bored. I once made a tshirt for Little Bird that said “Not Boring”. An understatement!!!

    Came here from the Sp needs blog hop. Here’s my post:

  4. Maggie says:

    Nice one, Marj!
    Movie is The Blind Side…love it!!!
    Either Tim McGraw or Sandra Bullock had the line in the movie…
    So, does the toybox stay downstairs now?

  5. Shrek and Shrek.

    The kids, they totally are like onions with their layers. When you mentioned the steroids, I shuddered. I DREAD when my 4yo (newly minted) has a respiratory infection that requires the liquid steroids + the nebulizer ones + albuterol. Can you say the Energizer Bunny tweaking on meth?

    But the kids overall – amazing (you know, in the moments when we’re not looking for something to calm OUR nerves). And the stuff they come up with when we give them the chance is usually pretty cool (when it doesn’t involve things like a whole tube of Desitin all over their bed).

  6. annie_a says:

    for the quote, I’ll go with Fight Club? Brad Pitt?
    (don’t know why, it just popped in my head) do I win?

    I like your blog and read regularly, not because I am in a situation similar to yours (I have 2 “typical” kids, aged 13 and 10) but because I love your outlook on the hand you’ve been dealt. your sense of humor about it all inspire me.
    so hi! I’m a regular reader! (and I live in Quebec)

  7. viviane says:

    I’ll say Shrek and Shrek himself. Mother to two Fragile X boys (21 and 18), I totally agree with the never bored thing… I also agree with your last paragraph. My boys (and yours) do not deserve pity, they deserve curiosity, interest, empathy, sympathy, respect, and love.

  8. Kalee says:

    I came across your blog (from Scary Mommy) and from one click to another ended up at this post. And I love it. I don’t have a child with autism (in fact, I don’t have any kids yet), but I have worked with both children and adults with autism (and many other things too), and you hit the nail on the head when you said : “When you’ve met one child with autism you’ve met ONE CHILD WITH AUTISM.” I could never understand why people felt the need to put the children I was working with into boxes.

    One of my absolute favorite kids of all time was a little boy who we actually had to work with to not crawl onto my lap and want to hug me or kiss my cheek. But, wait, that can’t be right because all the self-proclaimed-I-knew-someone-with-autism-experts will tell you that children with autism aren’t affectionate at all. Grr. Every child is different.

    Yay to Bugaboo for coming up with a creative solution!

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