Friday, April 05, 2013

Lockdown (Parenting and Autism)

Living with an autistic child who doesn't understand safety means we live in perpetual lock-down.  Most days, every interior door is locked and every bi-fold door has a lock at the top as well.  And when  a door or room isn't locked, it will often be blocked by a movable child gate/fence.

Without, he'll get into the refrigerator, the pantry, his sister's toys, linens.  He'll take pens, silverware, dirty dishes waiting for the dishwasher.  Any liquid in a container is at risk to either be drank or poured all over, be it juice, window cleaner, shampoo or salad dressing.  His floor is a virtual rainbow of spilled materials containing dyes that despite our best efforts we've been unable to completely clean.  The worst was the SoftSoap - that left yellow stains that make you immediately think of something else instead.

Near every door is a key and heaven help us when he figures out how they work because he's often with us when we unlock a door or close enough to see what we're doing.  So far, his interest has simply been in opening and closing unlocked doors, or venturing into rooms where we've left a door unlocked.

It also means that upstairs the house is always dark with all the doors locked.  It means every task takes longer and you have to plan what you're carrying in such a way that you'll be able to have a hand free to unlock a door, or that it's something you can easily set down.  When taking laundry down, it means standing at the top of the stairs and holding the door handle until he's come over and tried it a few times and then given up and walked away.

And it means that sometimes even our daughter is locked out of areas, in cases where the lock is at the top of the door, with some internal doors with flip locks or the bi-fold cabinets.  (Though that's fine to keep her out of food when she wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to eat food instead of going back to sleep.)

This isn't exactly a complaint, but it's a weird observation to think of a lockdown and how it makes us feel like we're wardens handling moves management, even if we're trying to mostly keep someone *out* of an area versus *in*.

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