I don’t know about the rest of you who have autistic kids but my experience with Beth is that she has no concept of respecting other people’s property. She feels the need to play or chew with something constantly so will have whatever is nearby to do this with, often breaking it in her absent mindedness. I know when she’s done this because she’ll say “ooops, sorry” straight after as if that makes it all ok. She’s not selective to who’s things she’s playing with, she’ll do it to her own stuff too.Â
Beth and Bridie both bought those flashing thingys from the school disco. You know, they’re rubber and have spikes all over them. In this case they were in the shape of an animal, they’re filled with air and have the flashing thing inside them. They also have a little loop so that you can tie something on to them to hang them up or to hold onto with your finger. The problem is that Beth seems to liken these to a plug. Or a chew toy. Either way within a very short time Beth has either taken the plug out of the animal or chewed it so that it’s popped. She did this to her own one and I tried and tried to keep Bridie’s away from her but of course I can’t keep an eye on her ALL the time. I didn’t realise til she had stretched the empty animal over her foot and decided it was a slipper. The kids know what she’s like and to keep their things away from her and I do feel so bad for them at times. It’s really not fair this autism thing. Why does Beth want to ruin things all the time, only to say “oops, sorry” and think that makes it ok. If it does happen to be something that she likes she then cracks the shits with me because I can’t just fix it or go and get another one.
I remember being a little shit as a kid too mind you! I was compelled to do things, just to see what would happen. In class one day in about grade 1 a girl tied her shoelaces together. The teacher took ages to untie them and told the rest of us to make sure we didn’t do it too. Well that was like a red rag to a bull, I just had to try it then! Maybe I could get my knots out better than the other girl. Of course I couldn’t and got into trouble for being so stupid. I used to play vets with my sister’s dog Patchie, even using drawing pins as needles. I ended up at the doctors once because I tried to shave my face. Dry. The thing was that I bled but I just kept going, it hadn’t started hurting yet. Sometimes I just couldn’t help myself. So sometimes I look at Beth and I get it. Sometimes you do have to pour the can of soft drink (or as we call it – bubble juice)Â out just to watch it bubble and hiss. Or spray the stuff in the bathroom to see what happens. Or draw over the wall, after all it is a big blank canvas. I mean really, the question should be ‘why not!”
At times like this I berate myself for letting the house be messy, for leaving the pens and the sprays around so that she can get into them. I know that she does these things yet sometimes I fool myself in thinking that she’s grown out of it. She doesn’t do these things as often as she used to, I’ll grant you that, but she still does them. And really, in real life these things are around the house. And if I make this a sterile environment with nothing to tell her not to do, she’ll just do these things at somebody elses house. There’s a fine line between making my life easier by having a Beth free zone and wanting the normalcy of visiting peoples houses without constantly worrying what Beth’s into. We’re very lucky, we’ve got some good friends and family who will put anything breakable away saying that it serves them right if they forget and it gets broken. We’ve even joked that if there’s anything they hate that has been given to them to leave it out, Beth’ll take care of it for them! Still, it’s incredibly frustrating at times, sometimes I’ll look at her and say “Beth, you’re 11 now, you need to stop doing these things. Are you a baby still?” To which she of course answers “no mum, I’m not a baby, I’m 11.” Very matter of fact.
Oh well, at least she’s learning to say sorry. And she does have empathy. She does say sorry to the appropriate person. If she sees Bridie crying for some reason she’s very concerned, asking her if she’s ok. Some kids wont even do that. So, frustrating as my gorgeous girl may be I’m still incredibly grateful for her. She’s a nice girl. And I’ve met some horrible kids with no disability that are vile! Give me my Bethie over them any day.