Monday, March 21, 2011

Autism and Families - The Lighter Side

I owe my ability to laugh at almost any obstacle to my brothers. When your family has autism in it, you have to laugh. Sometimes that is the only option. My brother Lance was diagnosed with autism and bi-polar disorder at a very young age. This combination gives you an OCD, manic depressive, non sleeping, sensory deprived child. Sounds like fun right?

Lance was an escape artist. He was never running away, he was always going to the park, looking for the "yellow dragons" (construction equipment), or looking for his Dad. We had alarms on his bedroom door and his window (on the second floor) was nailed shut and the handle was removed. This was done after he found a way to open the window and jumped out, twice! The first time he got out at night he was picked up by the police. When we discovered he was gone it was mass panic. Mom called the police while Dad and I searched the neighborhood. The police brought him home, he was fine. They would have brought him home sooner, but when they asked Lance what his name was, he answered very sincerely, "Pinocchio". The police officer then asked what his Daddy's name was, which Lance logically replied "Geppetto". Needless to say the officer did not have a home address for Pinocchio or Geppetto.

One night, Lance was about 10 years old, he would not go to sleep. He was having a bi-polar episode which made his emotions swing from one extreme to another. Screaming and punching walls to manic laughter. He finally grew quiet and everyone was able to go to sleep In the middle of the night he woke up Mom and Grandma, who was visit from Oregon at the time,yelling that he was stuck. Mom got to the room first and found Lance dangling from the window sill. He had somehow gotten his window slightly open and tried to climb out, all he was able to get through the small gap was one foot, the rest of him was hanging upside down. Grandma kept yelling "call 911, call 911!" Mom disappeared into her room, Grandma thought she was calling 911 until Mom reappeared with the handle to Lance's window.

After much ado Lance was finally freed with very little damage. Not feeling like they could trust Lance in his room alone again, Mom and Grandma place him on the couch with his blanket, watching him sleep while they got none. The next morning Lance woke up happy as a lark. He turned to Grandma and said, "Grandma, what a pretty nightgown." Completely exhausted they could laugh or cry, they chose to laugh, a lot.

When autism and families are together laughter is the best medicine.

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