Oh my GOODNESS, I am going to lose my mind!
My friends have asked me what it’s like being my son’s mom. I am here to tell you that it’s a LOT of mental effort! If it’s not trying to keep up with his intense interests, it’s a lot of mind work to keep him safe and to keep up with him during his logic battles. Being a special needs mom, or an autism mom, is challenging. When your kid is high functioning, they really keep you on your toes. And today, this mom’s brain is tired!
Don’t get me wrong, I am so proud of my son. He is smart and dedicated to his interests, and he can do amazing things. For years now, he has been taking things apart and fixing them up. This last week, a teenager in our neighborhood brought his broken Xbox 360 over for my son to fix. We have kids over nearly every week to fix their consoles, and my son loves being asked to help.
It’s something I am so used to that I forget it’s unusual for an 11-year-old to have such a skill. When this boy came over, his father complained that his son was grounded and not allowed to play with friends. I laughed. His dad doesn’t know how young my son is. It made my mommy heart proud that a dad assumed that an 11-year-old wasn’t going to be fixing an Xbox.
Jr Repair Man VS My Tired Brain
My son has been mechanically inclined for a long time. We used to buy broken robot vacuums from the thrift store and he would fix them up and gift them to people.
My in-laws don’t understand autism and worried that my son was going to be deeply disabled when he was first diagnosed.
It wasn’t until he presented them with a Roomba he had fixed up that they really understood that autism has wonderful parts, too. This was last year when my son was 10, and I loved seeing my father-in-law swell with pride.
I am grateful for the good parts of being an autism mom. Here are some of the stressful parts.
Experiments Don’t End
When my son is learning how things work, he can get dangerous. When he was 7, he wanted to explore electricity.
He wouldn’t listen when I told him about the dangers of electricity, and one day I discovered he had pulled an outlet out of the wall to inspect it. That scared me so badly! I have written more about that time here.
Lately my son has been collecting vintage smoke alarms. He found some YouTube channels about them and just loves the different sounds they make. He will test them for hours (while wearing ear protection) and thinks they are the greatest thing. This week, though, he wanted to take his exploration to a new and dangerous level.
He had purchased an alarm that was hardwired and would only sound if attached to the home electricity. He is too young for me to allow him to expose bare wires and hook up these different alarms — so he got creative.
He begged me to let him take an extension cord and cut it to expose the wires. Then he wanted to splice in the mounting wiring that a smoke detector would use.
His intention was to plug this into the wall to let him test the hardwired alarms whenever he wanted to. In case you don’t know, this is VERY DANGEROUS.
His determined little mind was so sure this would work that I spent over an hour trying to explain how dangerous it was. My brother is an electrician and I finally had to reach out to him for backup.
It wasn’t until my brother explained that it was so dangerous that it was not legal for an electrician to create such a device, but that they called it a “suicide cord,” that my son would accept no for an answer.
My Brain is Tired
That was yesterday. Today my son came to me and wanted to take the radioactive americium 241 out of the smoke alarms to create a homemade cloud chamber. He doesn’t understand how radiation poisoning works, so that had to be explained.
Then he wanted to create wearable shielding while doing this experiment, and it truly took all my mental energy to stay a step ahead of him while looking out for dangers to get him to drop that plan.
Now before you condemn me for complaining, I do know my son is a bit of a genius. I do love that he loves to learn. And I know that he will do great things one day. But keeping him alive in the meantime is mentally exhausting, and today I am tired.
But I am so grateful for my worried mother mind that helps me see every possible danger for my young son. Because he doesn’t see them for himself. And he must have everything logically explained before he will seek a different route to his goal. His determination makes the word “No” seem like a launching pad for negotiation.
SO next time your friend who has a special needs child tells you she is tired, I hope you will understand better why that may be. Every kid is different, but every child will keep you on your toes. And sometimes you just feel tired.
Oh, and if you have home appliances and know your friend’s child loves to take things apart, please don’t bring over the old microwave.
That thing has a huge capacitor in it that can’t be discharged and will electrocute anyone who tries to take it apart. We learned that one just in time. Man, I have never been so grateful for YouTube tutorials. They fill in a lot of the gaps my tired brain can miss.
About Abby Christianson
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. Having completed training to be an RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) for ABA therapy she is beginning to understand her son. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism, Abby wants you to know that the challenges can be overcome, and there are blessings in autism. You or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.