Trying to Remember Not Everyone Understands the Autism Spectrum
Friday, June 14, 2013
My son is 12.5 years old and will be 13 in August. I have been allowing him to stay home while I'm at work this summer. He is a high functioning autistic child. He can cook his own food in the stove without burning himself and keep himself entertained with TV, video games, books and his Legos. I also work about 2 miles from my house; it's not more than a 5 minute drive. I have left my cell phone with him so that he can contact me should he need me. We also have an alarm for the house and have told him not to open the doors when the alarm is on. He had been doing well for the last week and a half. He also have done well on other occasions where we have gone to the store for a period of time.
We had an incident on Wednesday where he was trying to see something in our backyard, which is fenced, and he opened the door which set off the alarm. He called me but I had stepped away from my desk at the time of the call. He did not have the password when the alarm company called and so they called my husband who didn't recognize the number so didn't answer right away. The alarm company then called my cell phone and got my son. As I returned to my desk my husband called me to tell me about what was going on. I quickly dropped everything and headed to the house.
A police officer had already arrived at my house and had spoken to my son. The police office said that my son had opened the door for him. I am sure my son was thinking police officer = friendly person. He was in uniform and had arrived in a marked police car so I can understand where my son would have thought he should let him in the house. I'm not sure what happened during that time but I was made aware by the police officer that he was asking Danny some questions and he was having trouble answering them. If the alarm was still going off and our dog was barking, like she was when I came home and the police officer was trying to come in, then I could definitely see Danny being a bit frazzled. I would have been too and I'm older. Danny volunteered that he was autistic. The police officer also noticed that Danny had started heating the oven to cook his lunch.
When I arrived home, I was asked for ID and then asked if I thought it wise to leave my autistic son home by himself. Danny is a very capable person and has been asking to be trusted more and more by my husband and myself. We are trying to prepare him for later in life and he won't be ready if I continually expect less from him. I would never do anything that would put him in danger.
I was told by the police officer that he would be writing up a report for DSS because I had left Danny by himself and the house wasn't the cleanest. I have 3 young children, Danny is the oldest at 12 and my youngest is 6.5. Danny had been home and moving around for the first half of the day so there was some food boxes on the table, a bowl and a cup or two in the living room. There were clean dishes in one side of the sink and some dirty ones from the girls, my husband and I from earlier that morning. My table isn't generally clear all the time either because it is our catch all for all the mail and different papers we have. There was clothes in the hallway separated out ready for me to wash that he saw while talking to Danny. I have a couple of bags of clothes, three of clothes I was given for the girls that are too big but they will grow into in the next year or so, another bag in a laundry basket of clothes that the kids have all grown out of and a couple of baskets of clothes that I had just received from my sister for my older girl that I have yet to go through. It had been a busy weekend with belt test for the youngest and a fun scout activity on Sunday so we had let the house cleaning slide a little.
When the police office said DSS, the worst case scenarios came to mind and I was just in shock. I ended up taking the last couple of hours off from work and went home to start cleaning. I called and talked to one of my best friends and she volunteered to come over and help out where she could. It was great to have the help. She brought her kids with her and so mine and hers were able to keep each other occupied a bit by what a couple of movies and helping out so too. I will be working on giving the house the most thorough cleaning it probably has ever seen. I will have to see what I can do about getting my carpets cleaned too. I have never been so worried about how my house looked before but I have heard too many scary stories not to be at least a little worried.
I know I'm not a terrible mother. Danny is very high functioning autistic. You wouldn't truly know he was autistic just by looking at him. Most people are surprised when I say he is autistic. He does have the social interaction problems but he is very responsible. He a wonderful child but I need to know that he can take care of himself because at some point he must be able to do for himself. He is very much wanting more responsibility and I am having to learn to give him more space and freedom to learn what he can do. I think that many people so misunderstand the autism spectrum and only think of more one end of the spectrum then the other.