From the moment I wake up, which is quite early, my day is a working day! Francisco wakes up very early, sometimes as early as 4 AM. The first thing he wants is a shower and food. I put him in the shower so he relaxes, I leave him in there since he loves water.
I try to teach him to scrub himself and add soap to his body; keep in mind my son is 18 years old. He’s an adult but mentally he functions as a 5 or 6-year-old. His vocabulary is very minimal but he is able to request his needs.
His favorite foods include cereal and pop tarts although many autistic children are quite picky eaters, thankfully Francisco is not. He loves food, the only things he does not prefer are yogurt and avocados or anything that has a similar texture; a common occurrence amongst autistic people. We must make sure he’s watched while he eats because Francisco does not chew his food and he’s choked on us quite a few times! Thank God dad is around to help because I panic most of the time and forget what to do.
Throughout the day I have to make sure that the kids eat, that they are bathed and that I find some me-time as well! But there’s always something to do, especially making sure Francisco is not in any danger of putting something in his mouth, which is very common.
Checking that there are no coins, pens or pencils, knives, scissors, or anything that will be a threat to his well being. Also, making sure he doesn’t run out of the house, which is one of our biggest fears. This would be a lot of work for anyone but I am lucky to have the help of my husband and our other children.
Not many moms have that luxury. Unfortunately, statistics show that many men tend to leave their homes when they become aware of their child having autism...
There are also the meltdowns: Francisco takes medication to help with his moods daily, otherwise, our days would be that much more difficult. He likes to play with LEGOs and he loves brushes; we have to hide them although he always manages to find them. He is very observant and you can try to hide things from him, but believe me: he will destroy the house to get that brush! Once he can’t get to these items he enjoys, believe me, a meltdown will follow.
His meltdowns consist of screaming and fighting us with scratching, pinching, and harming himself. We always make sure he has his own things and put them where he knows they'll be, that way he goes and finds them and his day will be better as well as ours. But we’re not always that lucky. Sometimes anxiety kicks in and there’s only so much we can do. Many times I feel like he wants to tell us something but we can’t understand some of his wants. Remember, puberty is also into play at this point.
Francisco’s favorite movies are Frozen and Coco and many times he requests them by singing a song from the movie. He will sit still for a bit, then and suddenly, I turn around and the couch is flipped over. As the day goes by, it’s night time and dinner is served.
Francisco eats on his own and he uses a spoon and feeds himself using the shovel method. He always requests a drink before he eats so water first. I try to give him water, for the most part, his dental hygiene is very important to me. After dinner is a little bit of downtime watching a movie or similar.
He wears a diaper all day so a bath before bed is very important and he loves feeling clean. After the shower, it's time for his nightly medication. Within 30 mins he’s asleep in which that’s when my me time begins.
9 PM is when I can relax a little from a long day. I would not change anything about my life, although it sounds like a lot (and it is). This has been my life for 18 years and I've grown accustomed to it. I’m grateful that my kids are healthy and loved by many.
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