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Like horse whispering only with a rodeo clown element

On Soothing & Being Soothed



When I was a little girl I used to flip through my baby book, which because I am the second of five children, I actually have a baby book almost entirely entacted up until 10 months. I’d always pause on the page where a bochure from the hospital was pasted. with time it had yellowed, and the pages felt brittle and frail under my fingers. The cover was printed with pink letters, and hand drawn flowers and read, “So, you have yourself a daughter! Special instructions on the care and feeding of little girls.”

And this is what I thought of when a developmental pediatrician told me, “So, you have a son with autism!” I thought of that brochure, the drawing of a grinning stork a drooping cloth diaper hanging from his bill, where a curly haired, smiling baby peeked out, refusing to look you in the eye 🙂

For the record, there’s no brochure on having a child with autism, just like in truth there’s no brochure on having a child period, as anyone with more than one child knows. Kids are born with their own unique DNA imprinted like a fingerprint, and what works for one kid, entirely fails with another.

For the record, having a child with autism is just like having

a child. 6c064-2014-09-292bjoanie

They have their own unique personality, their own likes and dislikes, their quirks, the ways they are similar to you and the ways that they push your buttons like they have just boarded the elevator of your soul and before you can stop them have raced their hands down the tight colums of brightly lit buttons and pushed every last one.

Luckily there are only 432 buttons in your soul, and maybe someone interesting will board on floor 232 like last time. I mean, it isn’t everyday that you meet someone like that.

So you ride the ride, stoping at every freaking floor while your chid whines about how they are hungry and why aren’t there drinking fountains on the elevator, and where is he suppose to pee?!!!

You ride the ride, just like you do with all children.

The part about autism, at least for me, is I am the daughter of Ruth D. and  besides inheriting her uncanny ability to make up song lyrics at the drop of a hat, I also inherited the part where if you are only as happy as your unhappiness child, then seeing your child trying to make it through life while driving without the gross and fine motor skills that seem to come flawlessly to others, careening towards every pothole, every barrior, with someone dropping tire popping tacks in the path, or following behind a high speed police chase, while your child runs haphazardly scared, runs from the pain, runs from the sound of the siren, the glare of bright lights, the overstimulation the uncertainty about why your are being followed or what law you broke or how come you are in trouble in the first place.


and in the terror they can’t think straight, they cant access those files about how to proceed when being pulled over. They are just scared, and hurt, and confused and look like any other teenager who could be high on drugs or obstinate or running from crime.

You hurt for them. That is the hardest part.

Just like it is with all children, you want to keep them from sorrow, you want to make their path easier, you wish you had done more to teach them about driving, you wish you had done more to give them a better car to drive,

you wish

you wish

you wish.

they run from the pain, and try, oh how they try to figure out the way to drive when they’ve Never had driving lessons, when their response time is delayed, when no one will climb in the passenger seat to ride with themimg_3218

It is physically painful,

and yes, the frustration.

I know frustration intimately, like we were passionate lovers for while in college, intimately.

Like Nicholas Spark sugar sap, needs to be made into a made for TV lifetime special.

I know frustration like it is my soul mate intimately.

I don’t swear, really I don’t, but I have dropped the F bomb in frustration at something my oldest has done,

at least twice.

Oddly they don’t have a bumper sticker for that.

I get it. 

Luckily with 482 floors there is time to digest the journey.

And knowing what I know,  you would think I would do something to prevent this scenario from unfolding like a sprung felon, on the run. Avoid elevators, don’t eat the cheese on the trap!

And like most parents, of most children, I try to do just that. But sometimes you can’t help it. I’m chasing another kid, or stopped to help a woman find her wallet which is why the boys reach the elevator before me, and by the time I arrive I’m barely making it through the closing doors in time to ride the long with them.

desperately wishing there wasn’t another woman on the elevator, pushing her sleeping baby in a buggy, who hopes we will keep it down

How many times I’ve taken the long ride together, alone.

So there is time, to think.

Years ago, there was more anger, hot and rolling,

there was more disbelief

there was more, sorrow at being stuck

There was more shame in not having taught my children better,  or not being more put together. There I shame that I didn’t always have the strength to fight the good fight when the food fight never ends, to reinforce limits,  follow through, or consequence of the back up plan of making them take the stairs.

Or this they had stayed with me like they were suppose to then this wouldn’t have ahppened


The guilt that I stopped to help someone else, instead of focusing on them, that I took a shower. The horror. That I tried to wrap a moment for myself in bubble wrap to keep it safe for the flaying.

the guilt that focusing on them non stop was exhausting

Or if I would have been focused on them, instead of stopping to help the woman with her lost puppy, this wouldn’t have hapened.

But now, I don’t aganize over why or why not I am on this ride. I know the routine. And I try to enjoy it. I alway stuff some cheese sticks in my pocket and let the boys pee out the doors on level 87 because that is a disaster area, and honestly I will never go back there again.

We are on the ride together and that can’t be changed,

so I had to change.

Two of my three boys have been diagnosed with autism. And now, my oldest is officially an adult.

On paper, an adult. He is 21.

I have picked up a few tips, (mostly about what not to do), that I’m happy to share with you, or at the very least, I can teach you how to form the perfect fetal ball, because if I’m an expert at anything, it’s that.

The secrets in a tight tuck, then immediately curling into the curve, pull your knees towards your head until your forehead touches your knee caps. Bend your knees and place your heels firmly against your buttocks. Wrap your arms around your knees.

And stay.

I sometimes tremble, mostly just for dramatic effect, but occasionally it’s involuntary.




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