Friends hosted us for Christmas. The trip to their house meant a ride on quiet country roads, which made the holiday that much more serene.
Before delving into the autism antics, let me (Tim) say that being hosted after years of playing host is a blessing beyond words. This year all kinds of accumulated stress and damage caught up with me. Did I mention that sometimes care giving stinks? I’m healing up. And to receive the kindnesses of others is great medicine.
OK, so we have a great Christmas morning with our older son and his wife, take the day slowly and gently, and then head for our friends’ place at a civilized time in the afternoon.
We arrive, and Joey starts to show that he feels every bit at home with these folks. This is big, as people who live with autism don’t always take to new places and new folks. What does autism-feeling-at-home look like? Well…
He gets out of the car, doesn’t wait for us to walk him to the door OR for our hosts to open it. He just walks in (shutting the door on us, btw), throws his coat over a banister, kicks off his shoes and starts walking around like he lives there.
Later, he would spot a light on in a guest bedroom where one of our hosts’ guests was reading a book. Joey, just as he would at our house, decided he didn’t like the light, walked in and turned it off.
When someone else turned the light back on, he flicked it off again, took that person by the arm and “guided” them out of the room.
That situation under his control, he headed for the kitchen and ate most of an unprotected platter of meat sticks.
He walked several miles in circles in a room he liked, ran movie lines (I think he was into Disney’s Pocahontas this time, and our Christmas was all the jollier hearing “You killed him!” bellowed at regular intervals) and, in his ultimate autistic gesture of holiday sharing…
…he passed through a room where Melissa was meeting some new folks. That family’s dad was holding a can of Dr. Pepper while he chatted with Melissa. Joey walked by and, without breaking stride, plucked the soda from the guy’s hand as if lifting it from a waiter’s tray and walked off guzzling it.
Everybody had a laugh, which tells you a great deal about why Joey feels so at home there. While there’s no such thing as a 100% autism-safe house, there are homes that are autism friendly.
Caregivers find these havens precious indeed.