Trick. Or Treat?
You wake up in the morning and the only thing certain is that you have no idea what your child may have in store for you. All you can do is hope, pray and use your imagination. It could be a trick or could be a treat. Although, my life these days, I feel mostly tricked.
It dawned on me that parenting a child with autism is similar to Halloween in many ways.
It could be cute. It could be funny. It could be disturbing. There's usually some dressing up involved. But most of all, it's scary.
You just never know.
My mom was telling me how much fun she thought the Doodle will have this year trick or treating.
My initial knee jerk reaction was that there is NO way I can take him trick or treating.
It would be pure chaos and madness and he wouldn't understand it anyway. If I didn't take him, would he miss it? Then the parenting guilt sets in about how unfair I'm being. He might like it for a bit. He'll like the car ride there. He might like dressing up as something. He might think it's kind of fun as long as it wasn't too crowded with too many people running around in costumes, screaming because that might be overwhelming for him and then he'd get all crazy and overstimulated and he'd turn his ability to listen completely off. I know one thing for sure, he'd love ringing the doorbells and getting things put in his pumpkin or treat bag. But I don't think he would really get it. Maybe I'm not giving him enough credit on this but I have a feeling he's going to want to go inside each house. He'll ring the door bell and if they don't come to the door fast enough, he'll get irritated and be trying the door and turning the knob and getting pretty worked up and upset that he doesn't get to go inside after all that.
And does he eat candy? No.
But I guess I will dress him in something cute for pictures and take him for the pure sport of it all and see how he does.
Having a nonverbal autistic child also lends itself to another awkward set of scenarios for when you ring the doorbell, the child typically says, "Trick or Treat"...and then "Thank You" or "Happy Halloween"...so does that mean I will have to explain at each and every house that my child is autistic and nonverbal and not really rude because he can't help it and oh how I wish he would talk someday and while I am awkwardly explaining my nightmare to a complete stranger, the Doodle will masterfully find a way to break through and run straight into their house. Then there will be chasing involved and either the person will call 911 or just smile and pity us and maybe pat me on the back as if to say it's going to be ok and slip me an extra Kit Kat.
Or I can just hand the person in charge of the candy one of these cards which explains it all.
And Jimmy will put on a brave and happy face and hopefully not be too terribly disappointed when we have to cut the trick or treating short because his little brother can't handle it and either can his basket case mother--and I'll try to explain to Jimmy how it's kind of a weird and hypocritical holiday anyway because I'm always telling him not to talk to strangers and to never take candy from a stranger. Hmph. Does no one else see the irony here?
Sure I'm guesstimating how this whole trick or treating fiasco will go down--and then at the end of the night as I'm buckling him into his car seat, fighting back tears because it didn't go so well, I will ask myself why I try to force something normal when I know better from experience? But at least I can say I gave it a shot right?