Tag Archives: taking a autistic child out

The Bar

When you have an official reason as to why your child doesn’t like to go places, you begin to reevaluate your entire life.  And then decide it’s just plain easier to spend your down-time at home.  I decided if we were going to be home, I wanted to make our living spaces as “far away” looking as possible.  As if we were on vacation, but still at home.  Starting with our bedroom.  It was time to make it feel like a sanctuary, so when we crossed the threshold we could feel like we entered a hotel, far away from the ups and downs of living with an unpredictable child.

On our first real trip to actually purchase and not just window shop,  I found the perfect bedroom set.  I was in bliss just looking at that four-poster beauty. It was even called “The Hemingway Collection” not only one of my favorite authors, but it looked like it belonged in a hotel.  Perfect. Dan needed to get up here.  But he was downstairs tirelessly walking Ryan in the stroller so he would stay content.  I went to find him to trade.  He had a smirk on his face.  

“What?” I said.

“You have to take a look at this.” He eyes lit up.

“No, I’ve found our bed, this is it, you have to go see it.” I argued.

“It’s not a bed.  It’s a bar.” He was nodding his head and smiling like an idiot.

“A bar. I don’t want to sleep on a bar.” I said dryly.

“Just go over there and look.  It would be awesome in the living room.” He smiled again.  I know he has always wanted an entertaining area, but this was not my priority.   A bar in our living room conjured up all kinds of images in my mind.  What I saw was made of tacky bamboo and had Gilligan standing behind it with his goofy white hat shaking coconuts together.  It just didn’t go with my formal living room look.  I could see he wasn’t budging, especially when he said:

“I’m not looking at that bed until you see this.”

I sighed in defeat and heard Ryan whine from the stroller so I knew I had to work fast.

“Fine.” I turned around and began walking in the direction he pointed.  Searching for the tropical section, I stumbled upon a piece of furniture that looked like it belonged in a library or exclusive golf club.  It was tall,solid, rounded and dark and, well, beautiful.  Yes, I know I am describing a bar, but it was not your typical bar.   It was a focal point…  Crap. He’s right, but we can’t afford it.  I walked around the back to see the lovely marble counter and wine rack and cabinets and built-in outlets and I wanted to cry.  Damn it! Who would think a bar could evoke this kind of emotion out of me? I mean I have patronized a few in my day, but suddenly I saw it…Our house, the hangout…standing behind it taking orders….passing out coasters. Ughh!

Well, we decided to stay home whenever possible, what would be more perfect than a focal point that happens to hold alcohol and provide seating?  I stared at the front of the price tag until I had the courage to turn it over.  Would I be willing to sacrifice our “hotelesque” bedroom for a bar? I turned it over. That’s it? The price was thousands less than I imagined.  

I turned back to see him standing there, gloating.  I had to give it to him, when you are right, you are right.  But I had to play this smart, I had to make sure he still intended to get our bedroom set.


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The building where ‘church school’ is held is a short distance across a parking lot from the main church.  We walk over as a class. I stay toward the back to make sure the class is all together.  Ryan is holding my hand and grasping Thomas closely in his other.  He is being good so far, but I have trepidation on how he will do inside the church.  He hasn’t spent much time in there as we usually go to the “crying room” during mass.  It’s just easier for us and the fellow parishioners.  I look at him clutching Thomas and silently chastise myself  for letting him have it before class.  But I had to get him here, I argue with my inner behavioralist.   I have to find some stronger reinforcers. It amazes me how much the therapists have invaded the very way I think.  Checking my watch, in hopes it took half the class time to get over here, I am disappointed that it’s only been seven minutes.  Crap. It’s going to be a long night…again.

We arrive at the church and Miss Sally, the head of Religious Education at our church is sitting in her mobility scooter, waiting for us.  She welcomes us with her usual cheer and all the kids are looking at her.  Her scooter is fascinating to all the kids, even Ryan.  She is very conscious of keeping it turned off while speaking to the kids as inevitably some child,most likely mine, will hit the gas and run over who ever is in front of her.  I am not sure why she is in the mobility scooter and don’t have the heart to ask.

“Hello boys and girls! You all ready to learn some interesting things tonight?”  She says in her kid-friendly voice.

There are a few ‘yes’ and ‘no’s’ said softly.  She ignores the ‘no’s’ and starts to explain the rules.  Already Ryan is off touching the stain glass windows.  I walk over to him to start guiding him back to the class.

“We will each get the holy water, do you all know how to do that?” She asks.  Just then Ryan spots the fount and decides he will demonstrate.  Apparently his Thomas train needed the blessing, because it goes in the water.  All the way in.  I think I’m going to swallow my tongue I’m so appalled.  The children see this behind Mrs. Sally’s back and begin to laugh.  I know better than to scream at him and lunge toward him quickly.  I pull out his arm that is now soaked halfway up the sleeve.  Even Mrs. Sally thinks this is slightly funny, but she tries to disguise her smile.

“Thomas all wet.” Ryan says holding up his dripping hand towards me.  His beautiful almond shaped eyes are showing his delight in giving Thomas a bath.

“Yes, he is.” I whisper, wanting to crawl under the nearby table.

“Okay, Ryan, thanks for showing us how! And, to you too, Thomas for being a good assistant.” She laughs. “Mrs. Amy, you want to line them up so they each get a turn.” Mrs. Sally turns and winks at me.  I mouth “sorry” and she waves her hand in dismissal.  She wheels away quickly to the entrance of the sanctuary.  My heart is pounding and I’m beginning to sweat.

“Please God, help me get through this without any other sacrileges.” I say under my breath.  Maybe being in His house will make that prayer more powerful.


Filed under Installations


“Mommy, are you coming, it’s getting hot in the car?” Jenna is peering in from the front door with her sweet angel face.  I sigh and shrug my shoulders.  I sit down on the steps and try to conjure what would make him want to go to a place where he isn’t interested in the topic, he doesn’t like the singing, and has asked the class to “please stop singing”, and doesn’t have any real friends there.  At least at elementary school he has all the little girls who try to help him.  Here they look at him like he’s from another country.  One snide boy actually asked me what was wrong with him.  At seven years old, he cut me to the core.

I hear Jenna sigh as she comes in and sits down next to me mimicking my posture of defeat.  We sit for a second in silence.

“Mommy, why doesn’t Ry Ry like church? She asks innocently.

I think for a long minute.  I usually try to answer her questions with a hint of intelligence and forethought.  She’s hasn’t asked too many questions about him in her life.  I chalk that up to blind tolerance of a sibling.  You are kind of stuck with them so why ask why…

“Well, honey, his CCD, uh Church School class is not…very…uh…fun for him.” Nice job with the forethought.

“Mine is. We have so much fun.” She says earnestly.  I look into her light blue, anxious eyes.  I know she means it.  She does love being in almost any social situation.  She delighted in preschool, and any mommy and me class I took her to. It’s completely opposite with Ryan.

“I know, honey…but church makes sense to you-right?” I ask hoping to really start a meaningful dialogue. She turns her head like a dog would when they hear something funny. “I mean, you go there and see your friends, you color and then they teach you something about Jesus-right?” She nods at this. And I try to slow down speaking so I can say the right thing.

“Well, to Ryan its loud and he doesn’t like to color.  And to him learning about Jesus doesn’t mean much.  You can understand that Jesus is Gods son.  But that’s hard to explain to him…does that make sense?” I implore.

She shrugs her shoulders and says honestly. “I guess.”

I don’t think it really does make sense to her, but we need to get going and I have to accept that was enough of a “learning minute” for now. I hear Ryan upstairs and try again.

“Ry, come down, please.” I say up the stairs.  “I have Thomas here and he wants you to come with us.”

I hear him slide along the wall a little and peek out the landing.  “Thomas?” he says with a question in his voice.

“Yes!” I say in most excited voice.  “Let’s go! He wants to see your friends at church.” I smile like an idiot at him nodding my head. The ‘assumptive close’ we called that in sales.  He keeps peering down at me like he wants to come and begins to lightly kick his foot on the banister.

“We’ll go to McDonalds after…okay?” I say, trying not to sound like I’m begging.

He doesn’t answer but he starts to walk slowly down the stairs.  Good enough for me! I grab Jenna’s hand and walk to the door to keep him moving that way.  I hand him Thomas and we walk out.  I’m already tired and we haven’t even gotten there yet.


Filed under Installations


This is freshly revised section…I am interested in feedback. I had to shorten the actual episode so I hope it makes sense.

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I push the cart quickly as I can so we can get in and get out of the grocery.  I realize this is the first time I’ve taken him to the store with me since we found out…found out.  I say that like it was such a casual thing.  Like I stumbled upon something interesting in Reader’s Digest…Honey, did you know they found a new species of beetle?  I have to shrug off my mental flogging this morning.

First, I need coffee.  After another rough night of Ryan not sleeping, I order a large size and head to the produce section.  I give him cookies he seems content.

As I get to the aisle nearest the registers, Ryan begins to scream and thrash in the cart.  I am a little startled and reach for him to offer some comfort.  He wants none of this and to show me, digs his nails into my arm.  He then pulls so hard on my bracelet, it snaps and beads are sent sailing in a million directions.  I watch him, almost in slow motion, grab my coffee and throw it.  It too goes in a multiple directions as it crashes to the ground.

I am now completely distraught, my chest is heaving and it takes all I have to not yell or cry, or both.  Once I mentally count to ten, I am aware of the mess around me and am afraid someone will slip.  I am afraid to move, but his shrieks are radiating though the store.  I realize I have to abandon ship but I have to tell someone about this mess.  I jerk my neck in every direction desperate to find someone.  Ryan is now starting to kick me and begins climbing out of the cart.  I pull him out and get him in a death grip on my hip.

Finally, I see a woman coming around from the check stand.  She is smiling sadly at me.  Oh, good she must understand 

“Can you help me? I’m sorry; he’s made such a mess.” I say trying not to cry.

“Wow, that is a mess.” She says, looking at the disaster around me.

“I’m sorry I have to take him out of here, I hate to leave you with this mess…” I look at her for acknowledgment.

“Whasamatta wif dis wittle guy?”  She says in a baby voice that irritates me so badly I feel my fist clench.  Then she does something no stranger should do to any child, especially a pissed off, autistic child.  She starts walking her fingers up his leg trying to tickle him.

“Wooks like someone needs a nap.” Ryan kicks her hand away–hard.  I know it had to hurt, but she doesn’t say anything.  She pulls her hand down looks at me turning  her head as if asking “what the hell is wrong with him?”

“I’m so sorry…he’s…autistic…” I say hoping that’ enough of an explanation.

She smiles big and bright.  “Oh, that’s great!”

What the hell?

Did she hear me? I have one of those flash forward moments again, and wonder how often I will have to endure this stupid reaction.  Is the world still so dumb to this disorder? God I hate thinking these thoughts…I just want to run away…

“Uh…okay, I’m gonna go.” I switch Ryan to my other hip, grab my purse and walk slowly through the latte lake.

“Okay, bye-bye now, get that little guy his nap!”

“Sure thing…”  I wish that would solve it, lady, believe me.

I let a out a sigh and realize my arm hurts and I see four blood streaks down my arm.

I stare at it a second, and my eyes fill with tears.


Filed under Installations, Uncategorized