Friday, September 13, 2013

Autism Dress Code

Many kids have "lovies" they get attached to.  Whether blankets or stuffed animals, they are prized possessions to our kids and therefore, prized possessions to the parents.  We know all hell would break loose if something were to happen to them.  The house is burning down!  Grab the kid and blankie and go!  When my older son was two, he loved his Elphie.  Elphie was a stuffed elephant with matted fur and hardly any trunk because the kid loved to chew on it.  Elphie was also absolutely rank because I was never allowed to wash it, but my son didn't mind.  He slept with Elphie on his face.  He adored Elphie.  So when Elphie went missing on Christmas morning, I actually prayed to God.  Please, God.  I would trade all of the presents just to get Elphie back.  Help me find Elphie, God.  We found him in the Christmas tree on New Year's Day.  But for that week between Christmas and New Year, my son did not sleep.

This effin' thing is in sorry shape.
That was Big Bro.  My ASD kid is a little different.  He obsesses on clothes.  A few years ago, he took a liking to a couple of his brother's Phineas and Ferb shirts and made them his own.  They were so big, he'd wear them like dresses.  He'd wear one and carry the other around like a security blanket.  I'd have to wait until he got in the tub to wash them.  Then the boy caught on to my scheme and decided he didn't need to take baths anymore.  Then he'd want to wear them to school.  I had a dirty, smelly kid in some dirty, smelly shirts, but his teacher was kind enough not to judge.

Every once in a while, the shirt obsession rears its stinky head, and I'm back to the cycle of laundry and deceit.  

Sometimes, the boy will obsess on something and make other people follow his dress code.  This responsibility usually falls to Big Bro.

     "Wear green shirt from Grandma!" the boy demands.
     "But I don't have a green shirt from Grandma.  Grandma bought me a red one," Big Bro patiently explains.
     "Green shirt from grandma!  GREEN SHIRT FROM GRANDMA!" the boy shrieks, drags Big Bro into his bedroom, and presents him with a t-shirt.  It seems Grandma gave the boy two green shirts and Big Bro will have to wear one, even if it's three sizes too small and makes him look like a Hooters chick.

Sometimes the boy will insist that they wear certain hats.  These hats are almost always a) out of season and b) embarrassing for Big Bro.  

     Oh, we're going shopping for Easter outfits?  Let's wear Santa hats! Oh, you don't want to wear a Santa hat?  Then I'll just throw a snot-flying tantrum.

And he does.  The boy pitches the biggest fit at the worst possible time, and I end up telling his brother, "Oh, for the love of God!  Will you just wear the Santa hat already?  Please!  Do you want to listen to this all the way to the mall?!"

I'm not even going to get into the time the boy tried to make his brother wear Mickey ears to baseball practice.  

I know.  I make it work.
Then there was the time with the effin' bike helmets.  One morning, I was rushing around, trying to get ready for work.  I knew I was going to be observed that day, so I wanted to get my power-teacher look just right.  My hair wasn't cooperating.

I heard a knock at my bedroom door.  I opened it to find the boy standing there, butt naked except for his bike helmet.  He held my helmet out to me.

     "Mommy, put helmet on, please."
     "Honey, Mommy can't right now.  I'm getting ready to---"
     "PUT HELMET ON, PLEASE!"  he wailed.  

A pair of dress shoes appeared behind the boy.  I looked up to see my husband, all suited up for work, wearing a bike helmet and a look of total resignation.

     "Just put on the fucking helmet," he whispered.  

So I did.  And you know what?  We went about our morning routine--all of us wearing bike helmets.  My husband bumped his head on the cabinets while making breakfast--"Good thing I was wearing this helmet!"--and the boy had to wear a button-down shirt because he wouldn't remove the helmet so we could pull a shirt over his head.  But it was all right.  I left for work in a good mood with a happy, well-protected family.  

And my observation went well, despite the helmet hair.


  1. I'll bet you rocked that helmet hair. As for my soft-clothes-loving ASD boy, we're about to spend a small fortune buying all new sweatpants for him this weekend. He's had the regular summer growth spurt, and everything's about 3 inches too short!

    Here's hoping you find some Phineas & Ferb replacement shirts sometime!

    1. I swear, my boy grew since June! He got 4 new P&F t-shirts for school, but I can't find the blue shirt in the picture. (Found a backup for another shirt on ebay, though.) The blue one is too old--at least 5 years, I think!