I would sneak into his room to make sure he was ok then sneak out and leave him to sleep where he was. To wake Mikey up and move him onto the mattress would mean no sleep at all and by this time I would be lucky to get two or three hours. Noise sensitivity in Mikey's Autism meant that even the slightest creaking of the floor boards would wake Mikey and send him flying into a rage. For the longest time I dared not flush a toilet when Mikey was asleep. I tiptoed and crept around like a ninja with blurry tired eyes. The last time Mikey had a nap he was four months old. I tried so hard to calm him into sleep. I used to lay him down and comb his hair for hours on end just to get an hours sleep out of him. And the poop, so many nights cleaning and scrubbing sometimes four times in a row. Tried nappies, jumpsuits, all got ripped and torn.
Toilet training took 10 years of constant battles, he is there but not 100 percent yet. Horrible subject but a severe fact of life for those of us having to try and cope with it. My hands were very often so raw, skin peeling off from all the cleaning. Latex cleaning gloves I'd developed a reaction to which means I got to choose from raw skin or small blisters everywhere...oh the joys! Nowadays when I see Mikey taking himself to the toilet, it makes me feel like a champion, victorious and so proud. So many told me he would never be able to do it, never make progress but he has proved them all wrong and those who care about him never gave up on him. To anyone who may come across this blog and are going through some of what we did, take heart dear reader because it does get better and everyone on the Autism Spectrum is a unique individual, they may share the same traits but are still as individual as everyone else on this earth.
I understand folks putting a brave face on, I also know that by not expressing just how difficult life with Autism can be, care givers have to work so much harder to get services and rights for their children because, hey, it's not that bad, is it? - Yes, it very often is.
Mother - Acrylic on Canvas 30" x 40"
The recurring nightmare. Every dream I had, over the top wonderful experiences like a endless water park with rides and rivers taking gleeful people down their gentle currents on big floaty happy tubes, trips to wonderful forests with good friends, a romantic evening in a park with a lover in the soft warm glow of japanese lanterns and blossoming cherry trees.....would suddenly take a turn into a scenario where everyone was being pursued, hunted and viciously ripped apart and eaten by crocodiles.
For months the nightmares came then one day I saw the painting in my head, unfolding itself and I knew to paint Her would get her out of my dreams. I say "Her" where, in fact, Mother is a self portrait.
For weeks I studied saltwater crocodiles, watched everything I could on them. I knew what my composition had to be so I learned how crocodiles move, behave in order to render her without a reference photo. What you would face if you happened upon a crocodile's young...
In case you are wondering, ever since the crocodile made her way onto the canvas I do not have those nightmares anymore. However, I have to still get a hyper real life size bleary eyed Ninja to live at the bottom of my garden, I think I will call him "Guardian of the House of Flying Underpants".