A healthy extent of denial and belief that things will happen when it’s the right time for them to, has its role to play in keeping peace while living with Autism.
Ever since Gautam hit puberty and a little ahead of that, I have been around conversations about when and how to train them to handle pubic hair. Parents, mostly mothers, of the children in the relevant age group used to exchange questions and sometimes answers in the conversation.
I used to remain mum.
Because I wasn’t ready to take it as a target. Because if i acknowledge something as a target adn do not see myself doing something about it, it doesn’t allow me peace.
So the easy, lazy and questionable strategy was, look the other way, don’t acknowledge the need or deny! I would keep an ear on the conversation, but absolutely non-committally.
That’s how I am.
If I do not have it in me to do something, then it is not worth being acknowledged or spoken about.
Not just with Gautam or Autism but in general also.
So I was living in blissful denial.
Until Covid. (incidentally by which time Gautam was 19).
Until everything turned ‘Do it yourself’.
We all bought tools and equipments to help us replace the services that were offered outside home.
I ordered a facial hair remover for myself.
And that’s when I thought, perhaps it was time we tried.
To try and see if my husband would step in to take this up, I strategically asked him to order the right electric shaver that Gautam could use. My idea was that asking him to order it will make him aware that this needs to be done, and since Gautam was a young adult now, my husband would take it upon himself to train him for this.
Didn’t happen. He ordered it. And sat tight. Dodging the bullet.
The product arrived.
And I realized in making him order I had exhausted all the inclination I had for this activity. So the shaver went into a cupboard and sat there idle for a good couple of years.
Without being noticed, missed, or thought about.
Then suddenly out of the blue, as sudden as a bolt from it, last evening I heard myself committing to Gautam.
“Tomorrow I will show you how to shave your under-arms!”
I just heard myself declaring it.
Knowing that telling him demands that something be done. Or you be ready to kill yourself if you are not able to keep your word.
The morning arrived.
I charged the Philips shaver.
Husband left for office, without a word.
Left alone with the razor, and my commitment, I realized I have nowhere to go but to take a plunge.
And I took it.
I signaled Gautam, “lets go!”
In no time he had removed his T-shirt and stood in the bathroom, waiting for me.
I asked him to fix a blade. I am not good with fine motor activities. I end up breaking things.
He lived upto the demand. By now, with his exposure, he is capable of figuring his way out with gadgets.
I ran the razor once. Realized it needed a blade change. I asked him to.
I ensured that I was verbalizing everything I was doing in simple ‘noun+verb’ expressions. (Not too many words, not too many complications.)
We completed the job.
While at it I realized that he was being aware and alert to any extra pressure and would shrink or squeeze-in his skin to avoid pain.
That made me aware that he is sensitive to pain and not only that, may actually take care that he doesn’t inflict any on himself.
That made me bold.
I asked him if he would like to do the same in other areas. He said yes. I was a little doubtful about asking him to expose his private parts to me at his age.
But he was ready and fine, and i said to myself, what the heck, if not me who?
In doing so I realized two things: One that the next time onwards, he himself can be entrusted with the task, with minimal verbal instructions from me and gradually even this can be withdrawn and two that we need not be conscious about notions that at some stages are not relevant to our children.
If he is fine with why should i imagine reasons why not to do certain things.
And that’s the story for today.
That all it takes is a plunge.
A plunge that left both of us feeling empowered 🙂
You can also check out the Youtube channel by the author of the article on ‘Meeting them half way’
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