Here is my experience of caring for an autistic child and the effects it has upon us as a family and on Christopher as an individual, the good, bad and the ugly. My family consists of me (Emma) hubby (Andy), Charley who is 16 months old and five-year-old Christopher who is autistic.
At midnight – Christopher wakes up and climbs into my bed if Andy is in bed he goes downstairs to sleep as he has to be up for work at 5 am.
2 am – he awakes again for about 20 minutes; I try to keep him quite so he doesn’t wake a sleeping Charley.
4 am – it is morning time and this is where the day begins. Christopher is up and raring to go, he’s got more energy than a Duracell bunny.
I try to keep Christopher quite so outcomes my phone and earphones, he lays listening to music or watching the telly on it. If I’m really unlucky I will fall back to sleep and then all hell breaks loose, like this morning. Christopher is incredibly clever when he wants to be and just as sneaky, he sneaks downstairs and starts making a cake.
I came downstairs at 6 and although Andy didn’t have to be at work until 9 as it’s a Friday and was still at home he was sleeping.
A bomb could go off and it wouldn’t disturb Andy, he’s got to be the hardest person to wake up in the morning.
You have to have eyes in the back of your head when you are caring for an autistic child.
I walk down stairs through the lounge and into the kitchen. The first thing I see is water all over the floor. I go out the front and get the mop bucket, come back in to discover it wasn’t just the floor that needed cleaning.
There are two tubs of butter smeared everywhere, four pints of milk gone and thirteen eggs smashed. I was not amused but Christopher tells me he was trying to make nanna and grandad a cake and while rather a sweet thought he has to be taught that he cannot do things like this without asking and of course having an adult to help him.
On the naughty step, he went while I was left cleaning up the mess.
7 am – and it’s breakfast time for both kids, this goes nice and smooth as Christopher gets the cereal he wants, but can’t have milk as he has used it all to make cakes with.
8 am – time to get dressed for school, he has an absolute tantrum as he doesn’t want to wear school trousers today.
At this point I’m stressed I’d like to pull my hair out. He finally agrees to wear some black tracksuit trousers with blue striped. Then we have another issue with his school bag, he no longer likes it. Then another screaming fit as he can’t wear his glasses as he broke them two days ago.
8.30 – It’s time to leave for school, he stops at every flower to smell it, every house to look at the number on the door and then stops to collect every stick we pass so he can throw them into the river.
9.00 am – we hit the school gates, oh great we are late again; we were supposed to be here at 8.45. I am greeted by a not so pleased teacher. Has she any idea how difficult it is caring for an autistic child? She does not make it any easier for me.
Back at home and it’s time to spend doing the housework, washing, and ironing and spending time with Charley. Before I have even had time to sit down and have a cup of tea, it’s time to head off back to school to pick Christopher up.
3 pm – Christopher comes out of school and has a strop because daddy isn’t picking him up from school. He then runs around the playground like a headless chicken and refuses to come to me. Luckily I have a friend who will look after Charley in the buggy while I go for my daily run around the playground.
3.15pm – leave the school gates. I hate this part of the day as Christopher’s school is opposite a secondary school and a special needs school and a nursery so it’s a very busy time of day and there’s a really busy main road.
Struggling to keep hold of his hand, we cross with the lollipop man who is amazing as he will stop traffic as soon as he sees Christopher as he knows he will run in front of cars.
3.45pm – We arrive home and Christopher heads straight into the kitchen looking for food. He has raisins or an apple or crisps or a yogurt. He will then annoy Charley by taking his toys away from him and waving them above his head so he can’t reach them.
4.30pm – I start to cook dinner and if Christopher doesn’t want it he won’t eat it so he might go hungry.
5 pm – dinner time and the kids sit down and eat dinner nicely. If the weather is nice we will all go out in the garden for an hour.
6 pm – it’s bath time which is his favorite time of day he loves water. To calm him down sometimes all it takes is for me to run the tap and he will happily splash in it and just watch it run away down the plug hole.
6.30 pm – daddy comes home
7 pm – It’s bedtime for Charley but Christopher will run around and muck about, running up and down the stairs, god knows how many times
10.30 pm – Hopefully he will be asleep by this time but I have to be ready for the midnight wake up call to start again.
As you can see it is hard work caring for an autistic child but I do stand back from it all and smile.
Christopher wouldn’t be Christopher unless he did the things he did when he is asleep that’s when the clean-up gets started and I do lunchbox and school uniform.
This is my story and I am proud to be a mom of an autistic little boy, he’s NOT naughty he just doesn’t see the world as we do and will act differently from the “normal” child.
Who wants to be normal anyway? Think how boring it would be.
Written by Emma, mummy to Christopher and Charley.
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