10 reasons why autism and summer clash- Term Life

This post was written by Kathy Hooven, mother to a son with autism.

Ahhh… do you hear that? It’s the sound of children banging around in the kitchen trying to make their own breakfast while you try to sleep off your Orange is the New Black binge watching hangover. As you curse the sound of Fruity Pebbles spilling all over the floor you remind yourself it’s not the end of the world because first of all, you are not wearing an orange jump suit and serving 8-10 years, and second of all, since there is nowhere to go you can just continue to lie in bed and let the dog clean up that rainbow sugary mess. No, it’s not Mother’s Day or your birthday, it’s summer. Let the love/hate relationship with the season I love/hate the most begin!!

Summer is warm summer nights, popsicle sunsets, staying up late, bathing in the pool instead of the bathtub and no homework. Praise God there is no vague writing assignments, no common core math and no tardy slips for rolling into school 30 seconds after the bell rings. Thirty seconds, seriously…cut me a break…again…please?!

Summer for my autistic son is also a love/hate season. Ryan is ecstatic that summer is upon us, yet, anxious that the school year has come to an end. There are multiple reasons why these hot summer days bring us both joy and anxiety. Here are just a few:

1. Bugs. Big ones, little ones, flying ones, crawling ones. Summer equals warm weather (love) which unearths the bugs, which we now call “things”, and these unearthed “things” equal anxiety (hate).

2. Hooray, there is no schedule (love)!! Oh dear God, there is no schedule (hate)!! Yes, not as much running to and fro certainly equals less screaming to “Hurry up before we are tardy (again)”, but, not as much to do is NOT necessarily a good thing for a child who craves routine, who loves a schedule and who always wants to know “what to expect” next.

3. No more packing the EXACT SAME SCHOOL LUNCH EVERY SINGLE DAY (love), but, figuring out what to feed him since that lunch is for school only, causes my chest to constrict (hate). No, we cannot eat Little Caesar’s Pizza every single day for lunch (can we?).

4. The pool is officially open so some days the pool becomes one big bath tub (love) so there really is no reason to shower. Ever. Just like his brain takes a break over the lazy days of summer, so does his hygiene (hate). I mean, if we have nowhere to go, why is cleanliness even an issue?

5. No reason to brush teeth ever. See number 4.

6. Ryan struggles so much to “fit in”, so, summer time means a temporary freeze on many awkward social situations (love), but, the end result is a summer spent in his room alone (hate).

7. Thunderstorms. Summer means cool fronts clashing with warm fronts which means the wonderful smell of a summer rain (love), but, if there is a greater than 80% chance of a thunderstorm someone is NOT going outside (hate). Good bye plans for the day. It’s that time of year we consider blocking The Weather Channel.

8. Summer means increasing his building expertise and using his imagination as he creates new worlds in Minecraft (love), but, it means way more freedom to withdrawal from this world into the world of Creepers, Zombies and Spider Jockeys (hate).

9. More time with mom means I continue to learn more and more about his incredibly unique mind and his beautiful heart (love), but, as much as I love it, I know he would much rather be walking the mall with a group of teenagers. Summer can be very, very lonely (hate).

10. Summer means time for vacations, time to explore somewhere new (love), but, for a kid who likes routine, leaving his comfort zone and trying somewhere new is usually met with a great deal of grumbling and resistance (hate). If it ain’t the beach, he ain’t going.

Ahhhh…yes, welcome summer. I love to love and hate you.

Orange is the New Black begins right about the time I start comparing Ryan’s bedroom to the SHU (Segregated Housing Unit for those of you unfamiliar with Litchfield Penitentiary) as he spends much of his time in solitary confinement.

There are plenty of reasons why summer and autism clash. The lazy days of summer are too lazy, too carefree, too unscheduled, too much. So, there are plenty of reasons for me to despise summer, but, rather than focus on the bugs, the weather and the smell of boy seeping from under his bedroom door, I try to focus on all the reasons Ryan and I both love summer because even on the hard days, even in the tough moments, we both know the seasons will change almost as quickly as he does.

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