Autism Haunts My House 365 Days a Year. And I'm OK With That.
I hear footsteps, crashes, doors opening and closing, voices and strange noises on a regular basis. I’m often jolted from my sleep in a panic. I’m unable to locate objects or find that they have been moved. I often find things inexplicably broken.
Yes, my house is haunted – it has been for years.
In the movies, we often find ourselves wondering why the families do not move out of their haunted houses. Why do they subject themselves to the stress and anxiety of living with ghosts? Who would want to live in fear, waiting for the next haunting to occur, always on edge and unable to fully relax in their own homes? Why do they stay?
For me, the answer is simple. Moving would be pointless, there is no eluding the ghosts. They haunt me wherever I am. Even in solitude, there is no reprieve, for I know the phone can ring at any moment. A single call can rip me from a seemly normal routine and turn my day upside down.
Several years ago, I used that analogy to describe to a friend what it is like living with autism. I’ve never been able to come up with a more accurate description of my home life. I live with a heightened sense of awareness, constantly monitoring my environment for unexplained or unwanted noises and even silence. For I know from experience that any of those things could mean disaster. The unexpected is expected – it’s only a matter of time.
Among other thing, over the years, those unexpected sounds have included broken lamps, a TV being pulled off the stand, leather furniture being punctured with a candlestick, broken glass on a fireplace, the pool cleaning brush breaking out the screens of the pool enclosure, a stuffed animal being sucked into the pool pump system and a $12,000 flood.
If you’re the parent of a child with autism, you know exactly what I am writing about. Being jolted from our normal lives is our normal life. We are constantly on edge and alert. Even sleep, when we get it, brings little relief. Being jolted in the middle of the night is a common occurrence.
It’s not surprising to learn that many parents suffer from depression, anxiety attacks and even post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We never fully turn off from our commitment and responsibilities. We’re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and it never ends.
While I’m “haunted” less frequently now that Mike is older, I’m no longer “living with the ghosts.” Simply put, we cohabit. I’m unaffected and unfazed by situations that would cause most people to run for the door. For me, accepting cohabitation was the only way I could gain control and achieve happiness. It was a choice to let go of being irritated by the accommodations one must make to live in a haunted house. By making that choice, I’ve been able to find my happiness within his happiness, even when it inconveniences and/or annoys me.
I’ve accepted that my house will always be haunted. I’ve been able to exercise the most annoying ghosts and even enjoy some of them. Thankfully, for now, the ghosts have not been as startling, but who knows what tomorrow might bring? See that is the thing about living in a haunted house – you never know what will jump out to get you next.
This post originally appeared on Autism Hippie.