Let me say right from the beginning of this blog post that I am sorry for writing another sad Aaron story. As if The Flip Side – my previous blog – wasn’t enough, here I go again. But I promise to have happy stories and huge Aaron smiles coming up. After all, Halloween is right around the corner and Aaron is nothing short of over-the-moon excited about all things Halloween and pumpkins and…for the first time ever (really!)…a costume that he cannot WAIT to wear!!
In my last blog I tried to explain the impact that Aaron’s obsessions have on his everyday life. In true autistic fashion, he will become hyper-focused on something that soon controls his decisions and his emotions.
Water, as in the drinking of water, is another of Aaron’s obsessions. Years ago, our daughter told him that there was such a thing as drinking too much water. She was right. In 2015, Aaron ended up in the hospital. He was incoherent and unable to walk. His sodium was dangerously low.
Over the years we have attempted to control his water urges but it’s very difficult to do so with a grown man who is able to get his own water…and is very sneaky about hiding water bottles, especially at bedtime.
Three weeks ago, after routine bloodwork, I got a call from his doctor informing us that Aaron’s sodium was low again. Aaron did a great job of reducing his fluid intake and in only one week his levels were normal again. We praised Aaron for the good work, and he was quite thrilled.
But water obsessions are like an addiction. The urges for lots of water returned, along with our removing bottles from his room and threatening to lock the garage refrigerator with all the water bottles inside. Gary and I hadn’t figured out what to do about the faucets or the fridge water dispenser. Ugh!!
Aaron has been doing better the past few days, though, and so we can only hope that he is learning to control himself. But this past Monday at his day group was rough.
Aaron got some coffee at QuikTrip, and it accidentally was kicked over by a friend. It spilled all over the floor. He had taken water with him that day, but decided he wanted a bottle of water that was inadvertently offered to him. A staff reminded him that he couldn’t have more water. All of this was just too much, and the tears came.
He was totally dejected. A staff took this picture of him in her office.
At first I smiled, but then I zoomed in, and the look on his face…
Well, it broke my heart. And then I was crying.
If there was ever a picture of Aaron’s deep frustrations, this is it.
But why do I share this?
Because I want others to know that these fixations of Aaron’s…and of so many others with autism or other issues…are life changing for them and are not to be flippantly brushed aside with a, “Oh, just get over it, Aaron.”
He can’t “just get over it.”
He is so deeply affected by his own fixations.
My blogging friend, Nancy, commented on The Flip Side that I wrote last week.
“Dear Aaron,” she wrote, “it must be SO frustrating to deal with uncontrollable urges.”
Her comment touched me so much because she acknowledged that Aaron’s urges…his obsessions…are truly uncontrollable. And she expressed empathy for that side of Aaron because of how deeply impacting it is in his life.
How frustrating it is for him.
And I know that if I can look at Aaron through eyes of understanding and compassion, then hopefully he will see and feel the fact that he is understood and loved.
Easy? No. Especially in the heat of the moment, or late at night when I am carrying three water bottles out of his room while he loudly protests.
Yet again, though, Aaron has shown me how much I am this way with my heavenly Father. How I let my obsessions for things that aren’t good for me control my thoughts and my actions.
The mercy and grace that God gives to me is exactly what I need to show to Aaron.
I goof up and God is there to forgive and to instruct, and to patiently love me through the repercussions of my repeated actions.
I must do the same for Aaron…forgiving and instructing and most importantly, loving him through the repercussions he might face.
And maybe look into a water sniffing dog, as well? 😊