Wednesday, November 23, 2011


While my husband was off helping a friend assemble a table and chairs this evening, a bat made its way into my house. This happens sometimes. It's one of the occupational hazards of living in the woods. We have developed a number of strategies that we use for removing such intruders, all of which involve my husband, welding gloves, and a broom. Tonight, being in possession of only the gloves and broom, I had to contemplate new strategies, like the huddle-in-the-corner-with-a-large-stick-until-my-husband-came-home strategy or the pack-the-kids-into-the-car-and-leave-home strategy. But I am proud to say I faced my fear and grabbed that tiny flying mammal (wearing the welding gloves, of course) and so saved my entire family.

I was reminded today of the fear component that goes along with autism. When my oldest was 5, he saw a commercial in which a woman grabs a paper towel and her arm becomes huge and muscled and yanks her around the room, cleaning everything in her path. I didn't realize at the time how frightening this was to him. He's still not hugely communicative when it comes to his anxieties, but back then he was a completely closed book. It wasn't until we were grocery shopping with his baby brother in the cart and I made an attempt to go down the paper goods aisle that the problem revealed itself. Austin bolted like he was being charged down by a pack of ravenous wolves and I, being a loving and protective parent unwilling to leave an infant to go off in pursuit, grabbed him and wrestled him right to the floor. Such a proud moment in my history as a mother. I have this image of the store security camera footage of the event being kept on file in some dark warehouse somewhere.

While we were able to get to the bottom of that one, and eventually move past it, irrational fears like this have plagued Austin all his life. His fears are inconsistent, rarely based on anything in reality, entirely random, and almost completely paralyzing to him. He faced one fear today, venturing into the basement while the dryer was on, trembling in mortal terror that the buzzer would go off while he was down there. The buzzer remained silent, he emerged intact, and he was very proud of himself that he bested his emotions.

All of which puts me in mind of the motto for HANDLE, one of the therapies we utilize for Austin--"Helping extraordinary people do ordinary things." That's really what it all comes down to. Autism makes it so difficult to do the ordinary things. And it always feels that as soon as one obstacle is removed, another springs up to take its place. But I am thankful (gratuitous Thanksgiving tie-in) at how far we have come and at how long it's been since I've had to tackle my son (especially since he's now bigger than me). And so pleased that he's doing some of his own tackling these days.


  1. Go you. Sam has some crazy stories of chasing and catching bats that came down through the chimneys at Murphey School. Like the time he went to put a bowl in the sink and there was one squatting in there. Swooping through the halls, scaring kids, and all the while all he wanted was to get it safely out without harming it. I couldn't even hear some of the details like....bat puke? Eww. But not eww for overcoming fears.

  2. Bat puke? Seriously? I hope I never encounter that one.