Friday, April 21, 2006

Driving while distracted...

One curious thing about autism is how large a role structure plays in the daily lives of many autistics. My brother Bill is extremely structured and routines calm him. Of course the opposite is also true…a change in routine throws him off and can be extremely upsetting.

So, the fact that Bill’s diet was just adjusted to deal with a couple of health issues…and the recent introduction of a new roommate…and the fact that they are digging up his neighborhood to repair roads...well, shit is throwing him way off all at once.

A bitch is thinking about this shit because my ass just read this report on the dangers of driving while distracted. Anyone who has ever been in the car with a young child can probably relate to what my ass encounters when driving my hyperactive autistic older brother on our visits. When he is agitated the level of drama just keeps going up…and up…and up, until you just want to pull over.

This bitch chooses to give it to Gawd, which is easier said than done. Let’s just say the giving of it to Gawd involves a freak out session of my own. A bitch likes to think the Devine One understands (wink).

These are the things folks just don’t know about. The little issues and concerns that keep popping up in my life that are troubling and somewhat amusing.

A bitch and C-Money encountered the massive road improvement project taking place in Bill’s neighborhood a few weekends ago. We had a 5 minute planning session about it, decided to drive the new route prior to picking him up just to confirm each turn and then my ass stressed about his reaction while driving back to his house to pick him up.

Bill was in good spirits when he got in the car. Keep in mind, C-Money had called and confirmed his new dietary restrictions the night before…and we had a planning strategy session about that shit too. So, Bill requested the usual…no surprise there…and we took off.

Bill started getting pissed when we took a left out of the subdivision…it used to be a right…and he grew increasingly more agitated as my ass continued to fuck with his routine by taking the long and meandering route to the main road. This bitch could literally feel my blood pressure rising. Stress was mounting. C-Money was counting Bill down into a more peaceful state…thank Gawd…but a bitch couldn’t help looking forward to the drama yet to come.

We pulled into McDonald’s…Bill’s favorite place. Bill hopped out and this bitch went to the counter to order his new and approved meal. Much to my relief, Bill seemed to not notice. A bitch began to speculate that he was agitated in the car because he thought he wasn’t going to get McDonald’s at all and that any fare from the menu was going to kick ass in his book.

He finished eating…ritualistically threw away his trash and the trash of a few customers nearby…and then we were off to the dreaded convenience store.

Our typical pattern was to pick up some snacks at the convenience store and then go for a drive. After parking and entering the store, Bill went to pick up his shit. C-Money had a hilarious back and forth semi-tussle with Bill over his beverage choice, which she won. Bill then attempted to use gestures and signs to negotiate some cookies. C-Money handled that shit too.

Bill seemed please to be getting any loot and took his losses at the hands of C-Money rather well.

We went on our drive and had a calm visit, which ended on time and without a tantrum.

A bitch didn’t give it another thought until my ass was reading about the dangers of driving while distracted. Suddenly, my ass was reminded of the unique complexity of driving while involved.

See, too many families have not found a way to stay involved in the lives of their mentally challenged loved one. It takes work, adjustments and support. A bitch knows too well that there are not a lot of support groups out there…and even fewer for sibling guardians like C-Money and this bitch. Yet the benefits outweigh the costs…and a bitch just wishes folks knew that.

A bitch stressed about that outing because my ass wants every moment in Bill’s life to be fantabulous…but change happens, stores close and roads need to be repaired.

The important thing was that we got through that drive…no accidents and no major drama…and we were able to be there and spend time with our brother.

Yeah, it takes work…but it will always be worth it.

We’ll just stay off the highway and within the speed limit and take those challenges one at a time.


Anonymous said...

Nice post ABB, my little bro has downs syndrome and I completely concur on the immense benifits that come from time spent with him.
He's coming up on 21 here pretty soon which means he graduates from school and it's time to make the decision on whether or not to put him into a group home or to keep him at home.
Initially I was against him going to a home, getting a job, or pretty much doing anything that would put him in a situation that I did not have some measure of control over.
Wellll, I'm coming to realize that if he knew I thought that he'd call me an idiot and tell me to mind my own business. If my family were to keep him home and virtually anti-social he wouldn't meet all the people he could meet nor have much of an opportunity to meet a lady friend:).
I'm also coming to find out that people are for the most part good and if they aren't good the day my brother meets them he has a way of drawing that shit out of em.
Also, there's this minor league baseball team, Lakewood Blueclaws, that plays near me and they employ a lot of mentally disabled people and it sounds like it works out pretty good.

Anonymous said...


Good post. I can identify - my little brother has Down Syndrome, and if his routine changes he is not a happy person. "This population does not adapt easily to cahnge", I think was the quote. I love him dearly.

If I never have to deal with him in an airport again it will be a good thing - several years ago (before 9/11) we went to pick up my mom at the airport and her plane was late. He lost it and I ended up literally sitting on him in the middle of a crowded airport because he absolutely insisted that he needed to go down the ramp and find her.

He's living with a couple of guys in a house now in a city near our mom, and it seems to be working out well. I talk to him every weekend, which he enjoys, but if I miss a weekend he is not happy.

The benefits definitely outweigh the hard parts, though. He's funny and interesting when he decides to talk to me.

Anonymous said...

ABB, it's wonderful to see what a well-rounded person you are, and I'm sorry some of the people who mouth off thoughtlessly to your other posts don't grasp that.

CP said...

This was an amazing post, ABB. (I came out of sitting shiva for this one, be honored! A Princess loves a Bitch's blog THAT much.) I have two dear friends of mine that have autistic children. They are faced with challenges every single day and cannot always prepare for what the day might bring. They never know what will set their little ones off. Even routine isn't always routine, now is it? But, I can tell you, as a mother, that my cellphone is FAR less distracting in my car than my son bouncing around to the music, screaming OOOOOOOH, Mom? Can We Go To Toys R US? OOoh. Mom! Mc Donnoooossseee! Oooh. Mom!!! Look at dat Ferarri! Mom! Look what I am doing to the Window Tint (RIIIIIIIIIIIPPPP). Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!

Yeah, so if they are going to ban certain "distractions" from our lives...they need to start with our children, first and foremost.

Heh. Just an observation, or wishful thinking. One or the other.

Bill is lucky to have you and C in his life.


TwinsGoddess said...

It's so great the way you and C-money can work together as a team on Bill's behalf, ABB. He's so very blessed to have you both.

You rock.

christine mtm said...

i'm always so glad when you write about bill. i have a 4 yr old developmentally delayed son and hearing about your brother gives me new insight into my son.

Ginger Mayerson said...

You and C-Money are the best sisters ever.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, ABB for writing about your brother,you are both lucky to have each other. My daughter is Autistic,it ain't easy but I feel blessed to have her in my life, she has taught me patience and what it truly means to love without conditions.

Casey said...

I really like this post: I worked with children with autism for a few years and always wondered and worried about what their life would be like when they got older. I hope those kids' siblings become as involved as you--you seem so in tune with your brother.

Richard said...

Thanks for writing about your brother, B. My daughter has autism but she brings a joy to my life that is difficult to express.
I'm not the most patient person in the world but maybe that is also part of why she is here.

Thanks. :)

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