Autism Parents Must Always Think Ahead

Remember this post where I was so excited Dr. J took a shower? The continuation of the story is a word of caution, a reminder to stay on your toes and think ahead.

At the third or fourth shower, Dr. J seemed to have it down. I listened carefully while he showered, and was so glad and thankful he was doing so well and enjoying it so much. Then this happened.

I went in the bathroom to tell him he had a few minutes left, and stepped into a huge puddle before I got in the shower area. I started screaming, “Turn it off! Turn it off!” Of course that didn’t do any good. When I opened the door, Dr. J was in a tub that was overflowing, water running out of the shower head to add to the deluge. (Yes, in a bathroom our size, that is a deluge.)

I thought, “Oh, boy. They’re going to evict us.”

Dr. J was just staring at the water. “Dr. J, why didn’t you turn off the water or yell for Mommy?” It just didn’t occur to him.

And I never taught him what to do if the plug accidentally went down and the tub filled up.

You can bet I did then!

This reminded me yet again that as autism parents, no matter how much progress our child has made, or how old they become, we must always think ahead. We have to imagine how our child might see any situation. What they will figure out on their own, and what they won’t. We have to think of every. single. step.

Like, “If the plug goes down, pull it up and call for Mom or Dad to come check it.”

This can be exhausting. And sometimes, if we don’t think ahead in just the right way, the results can be devastating. More damage than water leaking through a ceiling and covering your floor. More damage than embarrassment when the (ever gracious) maintenance man knocks on your door to see if everything’s alright because the tenant below you called to make sure no one had a heart attack in the apartment above him.

Once my dear friend Bobbi Sheahan told me two things that lifted a huge weight of guilt off my shoulders. (Yes, sometimes I let it come back…) First, she made the statement that autism parents never leave that heightened state of being on watch when children are toddlers. We always have to be at that hyper-vigilant awareness level. Second, she explained that once she was telling her co-author Dr. DeOrnellas that her autistic daughter was as much work as two children. Dr. DeOrnellas replied, “It’s more like eight.”

Wow. Did I feel better.

I don’t even know why I’m babbling on about this, other than I hope it saves someone else from a mess in their bathroom when they teach their child how to shower, and I hope it encourages you parents who are weary. It is not imagined, it is real. You are not alone.

Jenny Herman

Jenny Herman wants to live in a world where dark chocolate dispensers reside on every corner. As a homeschooling special needs mom, she’s been featured in Autism Parenting Magazine, Wit and Wisdom from the Parents of Special Needs Kids: Mostly True Stories of Life on the Spectrum, and various blogs. If she survives the onslaught of testosterone in her home, she may take a moment to blog, read a book, try a new recipe, or loom knit a gift. You can find Jenny’s book The Power of One: Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life on Amazon.

4 thoughts on “Autism Parents Must Always Think Ahead

  1. Jenny-girl, you may have forgotten I said to you one time that it seemed like having a child with Autism was like having 2 sets of twins. Hugs.

  2. Yes, yes, yes!!! We have 3 boys who I am on constant hypervigilant watch for. Sometimes my husband thinks I am crazy because I can play out a million scenarios in my head and try to prepare for each one. Many days I don’t stop until I crawl into bed at night, but I can’t wait to wake up in the morning and do it all again.

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