The Normal Road

As I drove Aaron to his day group one day this week, we passed a big traffic accident in the other lanes of the highway we routinely travel.  We took our normal exit, only to discover that the exit we usually take when getting back on the highway was closed due to the accident.  I told Aaron that I would need to go another way home after I dropped him off.  This concerned him but I assured him that it was no big deal.

All was clear on the highway and the exits when I picked Aaron up later that afternoon.

“Mom?” he immediately asked when he got in the van, “can we go up the road we’re normal with?”

It took me a second, but then I understood what he meant.  He was very happy as I turned into our exit that we could go up the road that we are normal with.

Aaron was completely unaware that he had just perfectly described his life with autism.  And he had especially given the perfect picture of why our recent trip to Texas was full of our usual Aaron ups and downs.

Aaron wants to stay on the road that he is normal with.  Any variation of that road will most certainly be full of potholes and unexpected detours. 

The road that Aaron is normal with is only at home.  It is only his room…his bed…his computer…his games…his food…his bathroom…his day group…his routine.

His desire for his normal is why he wants to take as much of his normal with him as possible when he travels with us.  He takes more books than he will read in three years.  More music than he will listen to in the week that we are gone.  Way more food than he will eat and way more games than he will play.

And he takes way more out of all of us than we feel that we can give.

Patience and understanding are our goal on every trip, but they are often stretched very thin.  If only my scales would show how thinly I am stretched!  😊

One evening we were setting the table for supper at our daughter’s house.  I gave Aaron one fork just like all of us were using.  But look at his place at the table after he ran back to the kitchen and corrected my silly mistake.

Always, always, Aaron will take two forks and two spoons and two knives.  He doesn’t use them but what we need to understand is that for some reason he does NEED them. 

Again, here is a perfect description of living with autism – this time in picture form.

You can see Andrea’s one fork beside Aaron’s multiple pieces of silverware. 

Aaron needs more.  He can’t even tell you why he does but he indeed must have more.

He must have more than the rest of us in so many areas of his life.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that.  It’s hard to be patient with him and understanding of a need that we don’t have.  A need that seems so unreasonable. 

But the complexities of autism are not to be trifled with. 

There are many ways that we as parents can guide and train Aaron, and we have.

But we must be wise in choosing our battles.  Some battles we will always lose, and such a loss is not worth it.

The road that Aaron is normal with is also a road that Gary and I travel right alongside him.

I guess you could say that over the years we have a new normal…one we could never have dreamed of having.

Some days the trip is long, and we feel near empty.

Then we see a view like this, and our hearts are full again.

Author: Patty hesaidwhatks

I'm Patty and I write about our adult son who has Epilepsy and Autism, who still lives with my husband and me, and who is a package full of many surprises and joys and challenges and TALK! Lots of talking, which creates laughter and some other reactions as well. I also write about how God shows Himself to me in everyday life.

23 thoughts on “The Normal Road”

  1. Patty, Aaron is like the new King Charles III. He likes to take his whole bedroom suite with him when he stays with friends. This includes his bed, bedding, dressers etc. So, Aaron takes less than King Charles on a visit. LOL!

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  2. Thanks for sharing Patty. Your writing reminds me that we always need to show patience and understanding to those around us. Everyone has a normal and it may be different from the normal that we are accustomed to. So showing patience and understanding will help others feel loved.

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  3. Patty, I’m always excited when I see a new “He Said What?” post because I know there are riches of understanding and wisdom to be gleaned from you and Aaron. In this case it is a clearer picture of the “normal” facet of autism. I’ve had parents of students with autism try to explain this but never quite got the full extent of it until reading this post. Thank you! I can only imagine how challenging it must have been for you and Gary to help Aaron navigate the COVID world of 2020 when everything normal seemed to be thrown out the window.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, COVID was an interesting time. He did much better than we thought he would, though, once he realized he had to accept another normal. The way his friends at his Day group accepted the masks was humbling to me, especially when I started to complain. Thank you for reading and for always being encouraging, Beth.

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  4. Being impatient from time to time with needs that make no sense to you is normal! I love the way you are so honest about the challenges of caring for an autistic son…it gives others who are in difficult situations the courage to say that sometimes, their patience is stretched thin too. It helps so much to be honest about our emotions! And I think that honestly also helps us find the patience (as you do) when we need it. It’s like saying, “yes, this is sometimes hard. But my loved one is worth it, and I can do this!” That’s so affirming!

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    1. Thank you, Ann. You described it very well. I really want to be honest. I have sometimes told one of my friends that I need to find someone who writes about living with autism. Then I laugh and say, “Oh yeah, that’s me! I guess I need to go back and remind myself what I said.” 😆😆

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  5. SO well said, Patty–including your touches of humor! (Had to smile at your comment that the scales aren’t registering how thin you’ve been stretched!) I’m thinking that in God’s family I’ve been a lot like Aaron. When my pastor husband was moved (six times), when the nest emptied of our three children, and when a job was terminated, I desperately wanted to cling to what I was normal with. God had other plans: greater spiritual maturity, growing dependence on him and intimacy with him. Now I can be thankful for those experiences, because of their positive impact on my life. And though I am better at adopting an adventure-perspective when challenges occur, I still prefer what I’m normal with!!

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    1. I surely can relate to all those moves, Nancy, since my husband was a military pilot and we moved a lot. At least now for the past 23 years Aaron has been settled here in the same place. Maybe he’s TOO settled! 😀 We all do love home, don’t we? Thanks for reading, my friend.

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  6. ❤️❤️❤️ I wonder how many things we do (spend time in worry, get impatient, give way to fear) and the Lord must think, “why do they insist on making that part of their normal?”

    Ahh we have so much opportunity for learning and so much growing in the Lord we can do each and every day…so thankful He never gives up on us!!

    Liked by 1 person

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