The kiddo turns 10 tomorrow. I'm not gonna lie. It's kind of freaking me out. Not just in that Mommy sappy, Sunrise, Sunset sort of way either. Let's add "Christ, how do I have a 10 year old? Damn, I feel old. Let me go to the Wegman's liquor store where I know they will card me because they card everyone and it will make me feel better." to the mix as well. Sprinkle on top a hearty helping of "Oh my god, 10 years flew by. I will have an autistic adult on my hands in no time. I have to remember I can't ever die." panic. Oh I think I will be eating my feelings in birthday cake tomorrow as it socially unacceptable to be drinking before noon. That's okay though, my feelings taste delicious.
It's been eight years I have been dealing with our "All the autism, all the time" lifestyle. Before I went "pro", I clocked in nine more years with working with the special needs population. So a grand total of seventeen years between the both. Does that give me some sort of autism tenure by now? Like a nice plaque that looks like a sticker chart or a gold watch? No wait, the watch is when you retire and I can't do that. So strike that. Perhaps a nice luncheon with my co workers perhaps. Fries all around!
If you are a newbie reading this, don't loose faith. I can honestly say it gets better but not in the way you might think. Yeah, there's some progress and that's cool. I'm not going to complain about that. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into it. Literally. The way it gets better is you just get used to it. No really. You do. I can't promise it gets better but you just get better at dealing with it. It's not like you can leave. Let's just call it what it is. It's the autism mafia. (minus the grand larceny and loansharking) Once you are in, you can never get back out.
Oh yes, there are many days I am numb to it. The verbal stims are white noise to me. The routine is as comforting to me as it is to him. I have clicked on auto pilot many a morning because really what other choice do I have? I have figured out more of what works and more importantly, what doesn't. There will be a moment where you will be like that guy in "The Gambler" song and you'll know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. Seriously, I got that autism tenure now. Trust me, I know. Some days I'm completely over the culture shock. So much so that one could say I've gone native.
What I don't know is what lies ahead and that scares the ever living crap out of me. Now there is a part of me that's all "He will get a job." Even if I have to buy a carpet cleaning business so that boy can work his vacuuming obsession into some meaningful employment. I already have a plan to advertise strictly on autism parent forums. I know the autism mafia is going to keep it in the family and you know them floors have seen some things scarier than a chalk outline! Still, I can't be sure and I just won't know till it gets here some day. Maybe in another couple of birthdays, I'll have a better idea. As long as he doesn't grow up to be an actual mafia hit man, I think we will be okay.
So I just put my "baby" to bed and I'm sitting here, in the dark typing this. Making a list of things I have to do tomorrow. Drop off the special snack at school, pick up his prescription renewals from the doctors, get a cake, and bring him to music therapy. Despite it being his birthday, the schedule remains intact. Tenure or not, there's no slacking off with this job of mine.