Autism 101: Individuals with autism tend to “…have eccentric preoccupations or odd, intense fixations… They tend to follow their own inclinations regardless of external demands…” (Karen Williams)
You got that one right, Karen!
In our home, living with Aaron means that Gary and I also live with his fixations. Sometimes his obsessions are funny. Sometimes they are maddening. Sometimes they are exhausting.
But always, Aaron will…to finish the above title…find a way to fulfill his inner demands of how his life is to be lived.
Like his mealtime routine. Aaron will always, always, always, have multiple utensils or plates or bowls of whatever kind he desires for each meal. Here was his place setting recently as he ate lunch in the family room.
We have come to expect this, and we don’t even try to correct him. He will make sure to have the proper number of knives, forks, or spoons for every meal. I am just very thankful that I have a dishwasher!
How about movie credits? Gary and I watched a movie yesterday. Afterwards, we wondered where the movie was filmed. We watched the credits to find our answer, which happened to be at the very bottom of the huge stream of names and job titles. And we laughed at ourselves, realizing we had become…for that moment…just like Aaron.
Aaron…who watches movie credits with as much focus as he watches the movie.
Aaron loves his Star Light that he turns on every night. It was a Christmas gift from Kyle and Andrea, and he has turned it on every night since then. Aaron very quickly developed his own rules for his Star Light. He wants it turned on just as he is getting into bed.
One night, Gary came upstairs shortly before Aaron was actually getting INTO his bed. Aaron wanted Gary to see his Star Light, so while Gary stood in the doorway, Aaron turned the light on. Gary oohed and aahed, Aaron was very happy, and then off went the light. Maybe two minutes later…tops…Aaron turned the light back on because he was now getting INTO bed and it was the REAL time to turn on his Star Light.
Back to Karen Williams’ quote: Aaron will follow his own inclinations regardless of external demands.
Gary and I are usually the ones making those external demands in many cases.
Let’s talk sweaters…Aaron’s sweaters, to be precise. Of course.
Aaron LOVES his sweaters. Certain sweaters are better than others, and he will wear them until they are worn to bits. He had this old sweater for several years, but it was his very favorite. He wore it or carried it or had it nearby, inside and outside…always.
This year, for Christmas, I ordered him two new sweaters. They are long and flowing, the kind he loves. And love them he does!
He wears one pretty constantly. Inside and outside, his sweater is being worn.
He also wants to wear it to bed, under all his necessary covers…including his new weighted blanket that he loves. This means that sometimes he gets too hot, but he will rarely agree to sleep without his sweater. This happened on Saturday night when he talked about being too hot the night before.
Enter the external demands, made by me. I reminded him that he should remove his sweater before climbing into bed. He was reluctant, but finally agreed to those external forces trying to rearrange his internal inclinations.
We discussed it on his monitor when I went into my bedroom. We discussed it as he stood at my closed bathroom door while I tried to brush my teeth. And he continued to discuss it with Gary after he clomped down two sets of stairs to Gary’s study.
We thought we had won. We were the new KING AND QUEEN OF EXTERNAL DEMANDS!!!!
Soon Gary came upstairs. Aaron called out to him from behind his closed bedroom door, wanting one last word with Dad.
And last word it was…for there lay Aaron.
Wearing his sweater.
On TOP of the covers.
We removed our King and Queen crowns as we climbed into our own bed.
Instead, we wore smiles.
Why fight the inevitable, right?
Aaron will always find a way.