Autism: Surviving and Thriving

Fourteen years ago my youngest 3 boys were diagnosed with autism within a 9 month span. Devastation and grieving followed. Doctors gave me little or no hope, but they didn't know me very well. I refused to believe that my boys were doomed.

My boys are now young men, adults with autism. They are thriving, but every day presents its turmoil and challenges.

My family: husband Mike, sons Ryan 22 yr, Nicholas 20 yr, and Cameron 17 yr. (Ryan and Nick have autism; Cam has recovered from autism.) Our oldest sons, Michael 33 yr and Stuart 25 yr, moved out of the house. Ryan has also moved out, and is still working towards complete independence.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mixed-Sorted Laundry

Nick surprised me by doing the laundry yesterday. I expressed my gratitude, and I had to suppress a giggle. I hope I hid my shock. Why would I have gratitude, giggles, and shock? Well, Nick did the laundry!

Last April I worked a seasonal job, and I asked for someone to take the responsibility of washing clothes. Nick volunteered to do the laundry. I taught him how to sort by colors, which temperature to use, and what each cycle meant. I showed him how much detergent to use. He did quite well after several practice runs. While I worked, he did fine.

Well, several months have lapsed.

Yesterday, he sorted the clothes by dark colors, whites, and towels. I watched him do the first load. He picked the towels. He tossed them in the washing machine. He put in the correct amount of detergent on the correct cycle. YEA. He remembers! All my concern faded quickly, and I left.

About an hour later, Nick announced that he had switched the loads. Everything was going smoothly. I smiled. I could focus on other items demanding my attention.

Another hour lapsed, and I walked by the laundry room when Nick was switching the current load from the washer to the dryer. I noticed a mix of white and dark clothes coming out of the washing machine. ??? I saw him sort the clothing. What had happened?

Nick explained that he put in the white clothes, but there wasn't enough to fill the washer. He knew that he could only run the washer on a full load, per my instructions. Consequently, he put in the dark load to fill the machine. The whites remained on the bottom, and the dark clothes were on the top. They were still separated. Really?!

From his perspective, yes.

He had sorted the clothes. He followed Mom's instructions to not run the washer unless it was full. He did as directed. Literally. Nick was proud of himself!

Yes, Mom could scream, laugh, or frown. I chose the laugh.

I did explain that the reason for sorting is to NOT mix them in the machine. I showed Nick how to change the water level in case this ever happened again. I had to rephrase the instructions of the "full washer". TRY to run the machine as full as possible. If it isn't full, either wait until there are more clothes, or switch the water level.

Only time will tell if this lesson is learned.

Life with teenagers who have autism. It keeps me on my toes. Definitely need to keep a sense of humor and optimism.

photo credit:Average Jane

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