Being Prepared With ASD: My Son is Contagious

Where are we going? What time do we have to be there? Who is going to be there? How long are we staying? I interrogated my husband like we were going on a covert mission where our watches needed to be synchronized, maps labeled, and code words would be expected. It was just a simple night, a couple of drinks with friends, maybe watch the game.

Being Prepared With ASD: My Son is Contagious

You know, no big deal. But something in me changed. I couldn’t just throw on an outfit, slap on some mascara, and head out the door. I needed to know the plan, and if there was no plan, then I needed to make a plan. My husband stood wide-eyed and flustered by my line of questioning. Then I had an epiphany, I am turning into my son.

It is supposed to be the other way around. We are supposed to realize that we are becoming like our parents and be mortified, but does it work the other way around? Can we become like our children?

My son Jase is 10 years old and has autism. He has always had a hard time transitioning from one thing to the next. We have picture schedules which include time by time increments depicting what he will be doing for the day. A large Velcro board hangs in his room, letting him know if he has school, or which therapist is coming to the house that day.

There are pictures of their smiling faces at the ready to place on the board. Piano lessons at 4:00 on Friday, dance lessons every Tuesday at 4:30, food shopping is on Saturday at 9:00, and so on. Everything has to be documented and ready for him all the time. Spontaneity is not common in our home.

I used to be a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal. I moved around a lot, loved making new friends, and jumped from job to job. But now, everything has changed, and I don’t know if it is a good thing.

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Have you ever gone out in the rain when the sun is still poking through the clouds? The warm shower falls from the sky, and you lift your head up and just bathe in the purity of clean drops. Springtime in Massachusetts is the perfect setting for such escapades. I took my daughter Charlotte out to dance in the rain one warm afternoon.

We splashed in mud puddles, soaked our clothes, and dampened our hair. Droplets fell from our eyelashes as our faces creased into giant smiles and we sang with laughter. My daughter had a wonderfully magical time. Jase stood inside the glass door, refusing to come out. Showers were for the actual shower after all. No matter the coaxing method, Jase was adamant about staying indoors.

You are not supposed to get wet outside, showers are for 7:00 in the morning, in the bathroom, with his loofa and cotton candy scented soap. I have not been dancing in the rain for years now.

Jase made me grow up. If anyone could have done it, it would be him. He made me realize that planning and organization is not something to be feared. It doesn’t mean you are not fun; it just means you like to be prepared. I like knowing what is coming. I feel better when a plan is in place now, and that’s okay. I can change for him.

I can be better for him. We can keep up with the regularity and script of our lives because it is what helps Jase. It makes him happy and feel at ease. And what makes him happy makes me happy. If he is contagious, maybe my inner spirit can be too. Over time I may be able to slip in a 3:00 dance in the rain.

This article was featured in Issue 91 – Great Back-to-School Strategies


    Kimberly Maschi

    Kimberly Maschi is a freelance writer and former news correspondent at Stonebridge Press. When Kimberly’s son Jase was diagnosed with autism in 2010, she began writing about their experiences. Kimberly is currently enrolled at Bay Path University gaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and certification in ABA therapy. Kimberly resides in Holden, MA with her son Jase, daughter Charlotte, and fiancé Keith. When Kimberly is not writing or studying, she is outdoors gardening and hiking with her family.