Autistic children do better with a routine. This is a pretty well known fact, and truthfully it's rather like CANNON in the world of Autism. Just as you know Darth Vader didn't say "Luke, I'm your father." (Or you should know because my God don't you have the Internet why don't you know?) you also know that "Autistic children do better with a routine."
I'd say that what's possibly more true is that autistic PARENTS do better with a routine. Just as parents of newborns have to map out their lives with this tiny human who requires 24/7 man to man coverage, autistic children need certain things and they need them from you and not when you feel like it.
I have a bath time routine that while it's not a "RULE" it's a guideline. I sit with them, as if they are small, and I WATCH them. History has taught me over the past 12 years that to sit in the other room, on my bed reading a book or what have you, simply leads to disaster. It's boring in the master bath while they play. It's a fairly unpleasant time as they are 12 and have discovered that they are boys but we aren't to the point where I am MANDATED by decency to wash them alone. That day is near, however. I play phone games like Gummy Drop, Candy Crush's less cool cousin (but I can say "I don't play Candy Crush"), Linez, and Blek all round out my iphone entertainment. Plus Facebook and Plurk, and checking FLICKR and texting people are part of my repertoire.
I scrub them, wash faces and hair and let them return to playing in the water. I resume whatever game, or conversation, and after a while we drain the water and get out and on with our lives.
Tonight, however, I have this new book. It's so very good. It's Margaret Atwood and she's who I want to be when I grow up. Her words are like a conversation with a good friend. So I took my book after I got them clean, and I stretched out on my bed and set a timer for 15 minutes. That seemed like enough time for me to indulge in a little fiction and them to play with water and toys. I noted that Miles had dumped LITERALLY every toy into the tub, and they were happy.
It seemed like at 12 maybe we were at a different place. I dove into my book, keeping and ear out for sounds that seemed dangerous or distressful.
As my timer went off I called out "Miles pull the drain, Charlie stand up." At the same time, Miles shouted "WIPE! I NEED WIPE!"
Oh NO NO NO NO NO.
At first I thought, just maybe he thinks he needs to poop. I rushed in and took Charlie's hand - who was already standing and walked him out of the tub. I scanned the water like Captain Quinn searching for danger and OH MY GOD THERE IT WAS.
He had dropped a HUGE TURD in the tub. In the tub FULL OF BATH TOYS AS WELL AS HIS BROTHER.
The water is going down. The turd is actually a solid turd (Praise whomever you like) but it's now water logging and sinking and is going to lay and melt grossly across the plethora of toys beneath is. I did want any panicked mother would do.
I slammed both hands into the water and pulled out that turd, flinging it into the toilet in horror.
Over the course of the next few minutes, I manged to get the water on in the sink with my elbow and scrub better than any surgeon in the history of the world. I was crying and laughing and furious with myself because if I had BEEN there I would've seen the physical signs that he needed to go and I would have intervened. I scrubbed again and again and again. I used the hand sanitizer and then I used it on Charlie's legs because they had clearly been in poop water. I didn't even know what else had been in poop water. I used a clean wash cloth to wash Miles off again out of the tub and got them both...dealt with.
Routines. Sit with them in the bathtub. My husband has the bath toys soaking in bleach, and I'm soaking my soul with...I don't know what. I feel like I got kicked in the face. I should be able to do one normal thing in my life, but I can't.
Some days I resent it more than others.