I know some of you will identify with many of these and many of you will identify with some of these, but here are just some of the things that make it 'our autism home.'
In our autism home, autism speaks. Well, actually, it either mumbles incoherently or it screams at the top of it's lungs. Either way, it takes several goes before we understand what is being said.
In our autism home, it is decorated with juice spills, milk spills and fingerprints. No amount of cleaning them away keeps them away. I have become accustomed to the pretty patterns they make on the walls.
In our autism home, we can tell how much he has grown by the height of the aforementioned fingerprints on the wall.
In our autism home, poo is a hot topic of conversation. Consistency, colour, frequency, we have poo conversations as often as others talk about what they did all day. Probably because poo is a big part of what Caidan did all day, or didn't do, depending on the poo situation at that time.
In our autism home, our kitchen cupboard is full of melatonin and Movicol (for the poo situation!) and some Imigran for mummy's stress induced migraines.
In our autism home, a 'day out' consists of no more than 2 hours. It is always a visit to somewhere very open, like the Botanic Gardens or a country park. Open spaces and nature are a winner. Anything else or any longer a time will pretty much guarantee a meltdown that evening.
In our autism home, sleep is not a right, it is a privilege. A good nights sleep consists of 5 hours unbroken.
In our autism home, we have a constant supply of pork pies, melon, strawberries and fruit smoothie drinks. Life would be hell if we ran out of any of them!
In our autism home, we watch every video of Old Macdonald Had a Farm ever uploaded to You Tube. One after the other. Have you any idea how many videos of Old Mac have been uploaded to You Tube?
In our autism home, we get to watch lots of Disney films. Never all the way through though as we are told to change it after 10 minutes. We have so many films we are now desperate to watch all the way through, but it seems a bit silly to watch Cars of an evening when Caidan might be asleep rather than say, Sherlock or Luther. You know, that thing called 'adult tv.'
In our autism home, we feel sorry for our neighbours who get woken up by screaming at 3am. The only thing I can say is, at least our neighbours can stick earplugs in and go back to sleep. Trust me, we aren't fans of the 3am wake ups either. Especially when daddy has to be up at 6am for an 11 hour shift at work.
In our autism home, people are always welcome. For ten minutes. Usually by that time Caidan is standing in front of them constantly telling them 'Bye bye, it's time to go.' Over and over until they get the hint. When they do decide to leave, they are often given a shove towards the front door. He is nothing if not helpful, my son.
In our autism home, we laugh. We laugh a lot. Without laughter, it would be so much harder to get through. We try and find humour in every situation. Even when it involves poo in the carpet or on the toys or all over Caidan. You have to find the humour. Somehow.
In our autism home, toys are not for playing with. Toys are lethal weapons to be thrown at the head of whoever has displeased Caidan at that time. You would be surprised how much a Mr Men book can hurt if it catches you in the right , or wrong place.
I feel in the last year our reflexes have really improved and we can get ourselves out of the way 7 times out of 10. The windows however, aren't so lucky.
In our autism home, it is normal for mummy and daddy to be hit and kicked. We are thankful that as yet, we have not been bitten. A 4 year old has a lot of strength when he is being stopped from doing something he wants to do, even if it IS dangerous and could involve a trip to the local Children's hospital accident and emergency dept.
In our autism home, we are used to being 'stroked.' By that I mean, I get my left temple stroked and daddy gets his nose stroked. It's a sensory thing, it seems to calm Caidan down. The fact that to us, it is akin to Chinese water torture is irrelevant. Caidan's sensory needs are more important.
In our autism home, we have love and patience and strength in abundance. Autism has made us better people and Caidan teaches us every day. Sometimes they are not lessons we want to learn, but we take the good with the bad. Autism can be heartbreaking but it is also amazing. We celebrate things that to others may seem small and insignificant, but to us and to Caidan, they are the equivalent of climbing Everest! We have learned to appreciate the moments, for they are more important than the milestones where autism is concerned. Our autism home is a happy one, mostly. Yes, there are tears, Caidan's and ours, but for the most part, we are a happy, joyful home. We work hard at it, it could so easily go the other way, but that achieves nothing. We focus on Caidan's strengths whilst working on his weaknesses.
In our autism home, we are doing the best we can to do what's right for Caidan and for us all as a family. And I think we are doing a damn good job of it!