Teacher Professor

November 22, 2010

Anticlimactic Postscript

Filed under: Autism — Teacher Professor @ 10:05 pm

24 hours… gone now.  So sweet- but not nearly as significant- nor as eventful- as I had thought or worried about.

In those 24 hours, I:

  • Napped. NAPPED!  It was a lovely 2 hour nap…
  • Drank two banana margaritas with Vicki over bad Mexican food (Don’t judge- they taste like banana popsicles and are yummy!)
  • Shopped at leisure at Bed, Bath and Beyond- the scene of many a meltdown- and where I felt myself getting a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume.  Didn’t get anything beyond gingerbread coffee- but I touched LOTS of things.
  • Read a book until the wee hours of the morning.
  • Slept in- an hour later than usual, for a total deficit of sleep
  • Did a million loads of laundry
  • Folded them while watching “The Backup Plan”
  • Called the dryer repair people because I could follow through on my thoughts
  • Spent 5 hours cleaning Elizabeth’s room- all with my music blasting loudly throughout the house.

I did NOT:

  • Take a bath
  • Take the dog for a walk on the beach
  • Finish the afghan I’ve been working on for a year
  • Start the quilt that I’ve been promising the children for three years
  • Grade
  • Give myself a pedicure
  • Eat ice cream
  • Watch either of the Sex in the City movies

I could use another 24 hours, I think…


The most significant thing I did was clean Elizabeth’s room.  I was anxious about her, and her room reflected her own level of recent anxiety- things thrown helter-skelter, her bedding on the floor where she’s been sleeping and her clothing all around her.  I straightened, threw stuff away, and organized.  I pushed her bed back in the closet where it had been dragged out to open to trundle for an overnight a month ago, made her bed neat.  I found a blanket the right weight for the in-between weather we’re having, and I hung stuff up.  I made it a room where she could find peace, rather than the room adding to her frantic mind.  I did what I could so that my girl could be surrounded by calm.

And I waited for her to come home.

When she did, after I picked up James and Ray from the airport, it was as if nothing had happened when she left- as if she and Emily and Tracy were- and always had been- the best of friends.  Her ability to tell me things is limited- she tends to live in the here and now- but she wasn’t upset; she wasn’t seeking solace, and she was invited back for Wednesday before Thanksgiving.


I am, of course, delighted.  But it does seem that on those days- those days where I reluctantly let her go, when I see how difficult it is for her, when I fear the worst, it somehow magically fixes itself out of my sight.  It’s the days when I least expect it- when I’ve dropped her off in a cheery, together place, that she comes drooping home, silent and unable to communicate about what has hurt so badly.  Or when I witness the slights, the teasing, the outright nastiness- Those days that take weeks to recover from; those days that re-teach me about what I need to teach her; those days that send my Mommy Instincts in high combat mode- I never seem to see those coming.  And when I’m prepared, when I’m so aware of how hard the world is to navigate for her, and how little others understand- those are the days when nothing happens.  Unless something does.  I can never see it coming- but I never see it clearly, either.  Autism has no patterns.

My own anxiety- the anxiety that I channeled into making my girl’s world, as exemplified through her room, peaceful and organized and a place of safety- that anxiety has made me tired because all of that pent-up adrenaline now has nowhere to go.  I’m glad… so glad.  She- and I in my translation of the world to her- dodged an emotional bullet this time.  She coped today.  What about next time?  What about tomorrow? There is more than a bit of a post-traumatic stress feeling from this- the fear that you can’t see it coming.

I need another 24 hours to recover from this last one…


  1. One can always use another 24 hours! I’m glad that yours held good things, and that Elizabeth had such a fine time.

    I know where you’re coming from with the “autism has no patterns” phrase — I tend to say “expect the unexpected.” And yet there is so much about autism that is SO patterned, rigidly patterned even. The irony is rather astonishing, don’t you think?

    Comment by JoyMama — November 23, 2010 @ 6:56 am | Reply

  2. Irony indeed… Interesting point! I often think that autism is the attempt to create patterns out of chaos- a very human process. We are programmed to find patterns. And yet, the need for her to create patterns seems to have no rhythm to it… sigh.

    Comment by profmother — November 23, 2010 @ 9:40 am | Reply

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