Autism Parenting

This is a piece from a woman whom I respect.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.  –Sylvia

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It’s 5:15 am.  I’m quietly sneaking out the door for the gym when I see my 7-year-old Em’s face peering around the corner.  In a voice filled with panic, she demands “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!”  After a long squeezy hug, I remind her that our schedule says Mommy will be at the gym from 5 am to 6 am.  We discuss where the gym is, why I am going, and what I will do there.  Explaining that she will be very tired at school if she stays up, I give her two options:  snuggle in her bed or snuggle with Daddy.  One more hug, and she chooses to go back to her bed.  I groan inside, knowing that choosing to go back to her own bed means she will expect me to snuggle with her until she falls asleep.

“Mommy snuggle with me?”  I can tell she’s seconds away from a meltdown.  I lay down next to her. I gently caress her face, telling her how much I love her, and  I carefully explain our plan for the day.  She snuggles closer and relaxes. Her eyes close.  Her breathing becomes slow and regular.  Suddenly her eyes pop open, filled with anxiety.  “Mommy, are you still going?”  “Yes, sweetie, I am.  Would you be more comfortable snuggling with Daddy while Mommy is gone?”  I cringe.  “NO! NO! NO!  I DON’T WANT TO GET OUT OF BED AND I DON’T WANT MOMMY TO LEAVE!”  My wonderful, and very sleepy, husband appears in the doorway.  I ask Em if Daddy can snuggle with her while Mommy is at the gym.  She tearfully replies with a yes. I give her one more hug and tell her I love her. I thank her for helping to find a solution to our problem and remind her that I will be back very soon to make her favorite breakfast.  As I change my shirt (which is now covered in slobber, tears, and snot), I realize it’s too late for the gym.  Dejected, I seriously consider taking a nap but then remember that I have to leave the house.  Otherwise, the whole morning struggle would have been completely in vain.

It’s 6:45 and I’m tiptoeing back into the house from my trip to the grocery store.  I peak in Em’s room:  still sleeping.  I close the door, start breakfast and pack lunches.  I still have a half-hour before I need to wake up Em, so I decide to get a head start on work.  Soon, I’m completely engrossed.  I completely forgot that I meant to set an alarm so I would remember to wake up Em.  I look up to take a sip of my now cold coffee; it’s 8:15.  Yikes!!!  I put her favorite music on and climb in bed beside her, waking her up gently.  I’m on edge:  will she be angry because I’m waking her?  Her eyes open and widen with surprise. She smiles, patting my face with her little hands:  “Mommy, you are back already!”  She climbs out of bed and consults her schedule, happily singing along to the music.  I give her one last hug as she runs out the door to go to school.  I change the music, plug in my headphones and sit down at my desk.  This time I remember to set an alarm.  Stimming happily along to the music, I get back to work.

This is a real morning in my home.  My name is Priscilla Brackett.  I am a mom, a small business owner, a full time college student, and I’m Autistic.

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