Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This non-fiction life of mine

I had two things on my mind this morning, so there will be two posts. You don't have to read both.

Hey, I'm thinking of getting rid of Twisted Tuesday since you already get slammed with my writing on Flash Fiction Friday. Thoughts?

First of all, HAPPY CAPS LOCK DAY!

So, today is one of those days, CAPS LOCK ASIDE, when I realize that I will never write non-fiction. When I was in the thick of our fight against Autism, everyone suggested that I write a book about what was happening and how life was. When my children became high-functioning, I put aside thoughts of that. The last thing I wanted was for people to know them as the children "that book" was about. It's a fine line you walk with the rest of their lives. B is over seven which means the insurance companies consider her beyond hope for neuro-developmental therapy. We could go back to the doctor and have her "diagnosis removed" because she wouldn't qualify for it today. We could also have her diagnosis dropped from her school records, BUT that would harm her chances for a normal life rather than help it. B is not cured. In fact, I'm doubtful that there is a cure, at this time, for Autism despite what celebrities and others might think.

The other reason that I'll never write non-fiction is because of T. T is having an "off-day" today. Yes, he has a stomach ache, but I finally figured out what is going on. T is very sensory sensitive, and he is in severe overload today. When he gets this way, he does two things: He cries a lot, and he becomes violent. I had to go warn T's teacher today that he might become violent and, if anything happens, to call me. T kicked most of the walls in our house this morning. He also punched things and threw things and screamed. I should have recognized this yesterday when he was head-banging against a wall (which is rare) and beating up on his sister for no reason (even more rare.) Most of the time, T takes out his aggression solely on me. He becomes so violent that it's involved a doctor's visit once for me. The sad thing is that he can't control it. He needs controlled sensory input. I also figured out why he refuses to go into the school store (which is B's favorite place.) It's too loud and small.

I used to cook, but I don't anymore. The reason being that B eats a very, very specific diet centered around bread and bread-like items. I can't make a recipe the same way twice. I can't handle repetitive behavior (I know... it's strange for someone with OCD, but OCD is not predictable.) Five years ago, I loved cooking. I loved making new and strange things. B has killed cooking for me. Each day, I'm forced to make her a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch. Every day. For three years now, she's eaten the same school lunch every day. Forcing myself to do something that repetitive is pure torture for me. Sometimes, the husband does it for me before he leaves, and that's why he is the best husband in the world. We've tried having B make her own sandwiches, but that just seems to insure that we're late for school every day. B is very... slow and sure about some things. Her dinner options are dinosaur chicken nuggets, noodles, pancakes/waffles, tacos (maybe-crunchy, no cheese), and a peanut butter sandwich. That's it. Those are her dinners. Repetitive. The husband cooks most of the time to avoid my eye lid going into permanent twitch-mode. I used to love cooking, but I don't anymore.

Having said all that, I'm used to this. I get by. I'm good. I'm not unhappy. It's about adapting, and we've adapted. Our family dynamic can be funky since we're working around a family full of issues. (Well, the husband is normal--though geeky to the extreme.) The husband has had to do the most adapting, I suspect, but he does it without complaint. He works around my OCD's demands, B's OCD and Autism, and T's Asperger's and sensory issues. If anyone has the right to complain, the husband tops the list. He doesn't, though.

So, this is my non-fiction life. I think that's why writing fiction is so imperative to me. I need to control something while burying myself in fantasy. I like creating fallible characters who still get things done and are happy. I need that. It's quiet, and it's just about the voices in my head. I even find violence therapeutic at times. It's awful, but there is also reason and resolution.

In my non-fiction life, the laundry never ends. B has been eating the same things for her entire life despite the therapists attempts to broaden her diet. T walks a fine line between enough sensory input and too much. The husband is tripping over so many issues that it's a wonder he is sane. Nothing ever ends. There is no resolution. I wake up each day knowing that accomplishing anything is just a temporary thing. The house won't remain clean. There will be another peanut butter sandwich to make tomorrow. The debt from therapy and doctors will still be following us. My life is an open-ended book with no chapter breaks that sometimes loops like a bad choose-your-own adventure.

It's not a bad life. This isn't a complaint so much as a commentary and maybe an explanation for why I am the way I am and why I write the way I write. There will be no non-fiction book in my future, and I'll need to write a chapter today of something thoroughly fictional. I'll need to crawl inside someone else's head and find their happy or unhappy ending. It's an insane sort of sanity.

I don't know how to end this other than to say: The End.


  1. Ah, Wendy, your post made me get all teary. I can relate to so much of what you posted.

    As I've mentioned before, my youngest, W, is high-functioning autistic and has ADHD and he has many of the traits you describe in your children. He eats the same thing for lunch virtually every day (pbj sandwich), although he has learned to expand that to include the occasional piece of pizza. He has a very small list of foods that he will eat, over and over, and, especially when he takes his ADHD meds, I have to practically force the food down him with a crowbar (not a trait I share or even really understand).

    When his senses are overloaded, or when he gets frustrated, he has meltdowns that can turn violent. Not long ago he had such a severe meltdown in a busy mall that my niece and I ended up with bruises and he bit my sister. He was screaming and kicking and biting. I seriously thought people would call the police and turn us in for child abuse.

    Sometimes it stresses me out so much that I have to deal with a full-time job on top of everything else, but sometimes I feel like I need this job to give me a tangible sense of accomplishment. Sometimes I think it helps keep me centered, although it definitely cuts into any writing time I might have.

    On the plus side, though, as W gets older his meltdowns have decreased in frequency and his attitude towards school has turned a complete 180. He actually enjoys school now - will wonders never cease.

    I didn't catch how old T is, but I can say that W at least has improved immeasurably in the past year (he just turned 10). And talking to some of the staff at the school they've seen a number of Autistic/Aspergers kids make dramatic strides at that age.

    Well, this turned out to be a rather lengthy "comment" but I wanted to say that I can relate to many of your struggles and I'm so glad you have your writing to keep you sane.

  2. T is six and, typically, a perfect angel at school, and I think that is part of what is stressing him out. He has to maintain at school, so he just falls to pieces at home. Last year's Kindergarten was half-day also, so this full seven hour day at school is tough on him.

    When he was at his top form for head-banging at two years old, and he would head bang for twenty to thirty minutes in order to settle down for sleep every night, the husband and I video-taped him for our own safety. (We didn't want CPS thinking we were abusing him.) Our doctor had recommended it both as proof and so he could see it and give advice if it continued for more than a year.

    If I could work at a place in the profession I formerly held, I might enjoy working. It is nice to have the feeling of accomplishing something. That would depend on where I'm working, though.

  3. Wendy, my sister-in-law's daughter has Asperger's and was only diagnosed a few years ago. She's ten now. Very tough to deal with.
    My heart goes out to anyone and their child with these conditions.
    Thanks for enlightening us and sharing.

  4. Oh, T is the opposite of W in that way, then. W generally has very few problems at home, where he feels safe and non-stressed and has a set routine. Until this year, though, school has been very rough. Last year he had so many meltdowns and so many disruptive outbursts that he ended up in a separate room with just him and his one-on-one aide. He couldn't even handle more than a few minutes of recess with other kids without ending up having periodic meltdowns.

    This year, as I mentioned earlier, has been a complete change. Other than some time spent in the resource room for help with writing and some time with the school's speech therapist and occupational therapist, he's in a regular classroom. The aide is still with him because he still tends to interrupt the teacher constantly and needs frequent re-direction, but at least now he's interacting with other children.

    It really would be tough to deal with the head-banging. W only does that on occasion, thankfully. He's more apt to hit himself in the face when he gets really frustrated and that doesn't seem to be as physically destructive.

    I hope T's stress lessens as he gets more used to the routine at school.