(This event took place about 1996 and I wrote about it years later, as seen here, sometime in 2008).
Autism entered our lives with a scream and a bang.*
The noise, drama and haunting words of ‘all gone’ added to ignorance covered up the fact, but it was autism all the same.
Jared and I had returned to the rental house we moved out of the week before so I could do the final scrub and mop. He wandered around freely as I worked. As I bleached the kitchen sink, I heard him slam a cupboard shut in the bathroom. (you wouldn’t slam it open!)
“Do you have to go potty?” Jared was trained but still needed help with his pants on occasion. He didn’t answer, but slammed the cupboard door again. “Jared, if you’re not going potty you need to stay out of the bathroom.”
Jared didn’t respond. I heard a drawer rattle open and then bang shut. Immediately after, the cupboard door was slammed again. “Jared, stop that please.” I dried off my hands and walked down the hall to retrieve him.
Halfway there a cacophony of rattle, slam, bang, and ‘all gone’ assaulted me. The tone and frequency didn’t sound like a toddler sneaking in more fun before mom scooped him up. I trotted the last few steps to the bathroom. Jared was in frenzy. His face was contorted as he screamed and slammed. I was stunned. What was going on with my baby boy?
I picked Jared up and tried to calm him down. That only made things worse. He swung wildly, kicked and screamed louder. When my continued efforts failed, I grabbed the keys and carried him to the car. He settled down only after I buckled him into his seat. I blamed the move. Bringing him back to the house was a mistake. He had been was transitioning well before that.
It took a few days before the extent of Jared’s trauma became understood. Jared quit talking, was no longer potty-trained and he shutdown. The pediatrician assured me it would be okay. In time Jared would adjust to the new house and return to his normal self.
I just had to be patient.
NOTE: I’m cringing hard at the opening. Left it unchanged in to show when we know better, we do better. The information and language around Autism in 2008 was so incredibly toxic, it seeped into even my words – and I did not seek a cure. I was seeking to find some help and relief for my son. This is the first time Jared shutdown and it took years for him to recover from the shock of the move. He was about two/three years old when this event occurred. Today, at 27, he lives in that same house with this wife and extended family. – Eve Reiland