Posted by: Jenny | August 11, 2010

Greetings from summer vacation hell

Today’s coping brought to you by yelling, cussing and crying.  I mentioned before that I was bracing myself to see if this summer was as bad as last summer.  It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago.  I think we’re all ready for Jack to go back to school, especially Jack.  Autistic kids need a lot of scheduled structure, which summer just really isn’t conducive to.  Yes, I’m sure there are summer activities I could be schlepping him to.  I think I have the brochures for all of them on the floor of my car.  But we’ve basically spent the whole summer repairing the damage Jack’s autism does to our property and doing things to prevent future damage. 

Meanwhile, his autistic impulses and obsessions have taken over.  I could see him getting stir crazy before his birthday in mid-July.  I thought getting some new toys, which included a monster swing set, would keep him amused until fall.  They don’t.  He won’t leave the kitchen.  I don’t know why, but he’s completely taken the place over.  And he doesn’t really want to play with toys.  He wants to do things like put the vacuum cleaner on the kitchen table, dump a can of coffee on the floor and jump around in it and take all the mixing bowls out of the cupboards, them with water and put them back.  And all the dinner plates?  We just randomly lay those on the floor now.  That’s just a sample, and I know those all sound like little things.  Some of them things that show how creative and smart he is, but it’s 24/7, day after day, and it’s driving me bats.  Thank God we don’t have a gas oven because my head would be in it.

Another reason he’s getting away with all of this is because he’s still doing the head through the wall thing.  It got better for a while, but lately that’s his go to behavior at the slightest interference of whatever his plans are. 

His tunnel vision is a huge challenge.  The way I understand it, autistic savants are largely that way because it’s like their brains have tunnel vision towards whatever subject their into.  When Jack wants something he just keeps at it until he finds a way.  Obviously, a solution to his ransacking of the kitchen is locks on the cupboards.  Not so simple.  Traditional childproofing gadgets are a joke to him, so I went to padlocks with those simple yet efficient $2 latches.  He just yanked on them over and over until he bent the metal and broke them off.  I even had to replace one of the actual hinges on the door.  So, I just finished redoing all of them with an O-ring and eye-hook system I concocted.  So we’ll see.  If this doesn’t work I don’t know what I’ll do.  We also put keyed locks on every interior door beside their bedrooms and the bathroom.  So I’m like one of those apartment supers with all the keys  (Good Lord, I’m even boring myself)

He’s also jabbering incessantly. (Birthday party, dinosaur, snow princess, party time, mommy, just in case you forgot there’s anything wrong with me I’m doing this to remind you.  I bet if you think really hard you can come up with reasons this is all your fault.)

Anyway, I’ve just been trying to keep my head down and get through the summer, but I kind of snapped this morning.  I *know* this will get better because these episodes always do, and it’s just really hard to see past it when you’re in it.  I don’t know that because I believe it.  It’s just that I’ve heard myself say that before.  I also *know* that God is there and listening and not giving me way more than I can handle, but it’s just really hard to hear him over the cacophony of madness. 

I suspect a lot of this might be ADD stuff, but I’m not sure.  I won’t be surprised if we have to medicate him within the next year.  (That sentence is not an invitation for advice/judgement on the subject.

I need to remember that I’m not pissed at Jack.  I’m pissed for him.  As much as it upsets me to see him do things like ram his head into the wall, whatever is going on in his mind to make him need to do that has to be upsetting him even more.  He has to navigate a non-autistic world from inside his autistic mind 24/7, every day of his life, and despite all of his talents that come from his autism, that’s bullshit. 

The good news:

Jack had a great birthday.  My mom, my sister, and her family and my brother-in-law’s sister, Aunt Carol, who we’ve adopted against her will came and Mexican buffet (a buffet of food, not of actual Mexicans, that would be incredibly wrong).  My brother-in-law aka “The Amazing Uncle John” helped my husband put together this swing set.  My kids now have a bigger swing set than I did.  American Dream (TM), check.

We were under the impression he wouldn’t learn to read phonetically, but he’s sounding out words.  There’s also this:

The fruit of the autism epidemic shall be harvested in the blogosphere, which is good since he hates wearing pants. LOL, blogger humor.

 So that’s my summer.  I’m also exhausted because it takes me until 1 or 2 am to get to sleep.  I’m one of those people who need a lot of space.  I need a certain amount of time to myself each day, and I seem to need it more than sleep.  I know some people get concerned that my other pursuits make things even harder, but it’s actually the opposite.  Those things are the key to my sanity.

In case I don’t mention it enough, or at all, I appreciate everyone’s support from family and friends, even those “fake” online friendships.  In fact, those online friendships are what get me through the tedium of the day.  God bless Twitter, WordPress and Facebook.

One more thing: I just set up a twitter account for this blog.


  1. Jenny, you’re an awesome mom. I admire you, I wish I was as patient and understanding with my own two kids!

    You’ve had a ‘hellish’ summer, as you put it, but it’s been an interesting one.

    You know, all your ipals are here to give you an ihug, and an encouraging word.

  2. God Bless you. I know several families with autistic children. One friend said it is a Blessing and a Curse…a blessing for a special child to love…a curse to watch how autism affects her beautiful child.

    It sounds like you have some support and that is important.

    If you ever need to rant or cry and need a shoulder, I am just an email away.

    I am just an elderly granny who has big shoulders and listen well.

    • Thanks.

  3. I know that Jack is blessed to have you as a Mommy, just as you are blessed by having Jack as a son.

    I heart you.

    That is all.


    I completely understand on the “alone/space time” being more important than sleep. I’m the very same way. Thus, my super late night twittery tweeting and stuff. I cannot sleep until I get some ME time. Plus, I think it’s the one thing/time that I feel like I control, in a way. That may be part of it, too.

    • Totally.

  4. We’re doing a bunch of sensory processing stuff with MJ that seems to be helping including putting weight in her backpack, having her push and pull heavy items in a laundry basket, Thera Bands, and stretching her joints (something about proprioceptors). I thought it was bollocks ’til I read up on it and it seems to help with Autism and ADD. I’m supposed to do one of the things with her for 20 minutes every hour. I have worked up to where I am doing each thing once a day now, and the house is a mess. I was feeling really guilty until the therapist confessed that I’d be doing well to do everything once a day. I have a love/hate relationship with the therapist. I hope you don’t hate me for posting this. I told the agency today that we won’t be renewing our foster license in September and it felt sooo good. We have enough. We do enough. We are enough.

    P.S. I stay up until 2 a.m., too. It keeps me from killing myself or others. Just too tired.

    • Proprioceptors! That’s the word I’ve been trying to remember, so I could google it. Yeah, a lot of Jack’s rowdiness like climbing up and jumping off stuff is because of that.

      Thanks for reading.

  5. Jenny,
    I can relate to some of this. We just found out our son has Asperger’s with a side of ADHD. I didn’t know what the heck was wrong with him. Was he crazy or was I? It is a daily battle that sometimes I feel I cannot win. I’m somewhat powerless. But his happiness and the happiness of my other two children is what keeps me going.
    Love the blog, so glad I found it!

    • It’ll get better from here. Diagnosis is huge, then you know where to find help.

      Aspies are interesting. I read Look Me in the Eye recently. It’s by the older brother of the guy that wrote Running with Scissors. The most helpful books for me have been ones written by autistic people themselves or their parents. The more I learn about what might be going on in Jack’s mind the better.

      There’s a Boy in Here is about a plain old autistic kid, but it’s excellent. He wrote it with his mother. She writes one chapter, then he writes the next explaining what was going on in his head, why he did what he did at the time. It’s really interesting. The mind is so intricate. I never gave that much thought to it before.

  6. […] of his medication now.  I could see a big difference between Christmas break and how he was on summer vacation. He seems to be having a breakthrough with his speech too.  My biggest worry about the medication […]

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