Autism Awareness: Captain Destructo

There are two lessons I’ve learnt the hard way over the last few years: one is that absolutely nothing is indestructible, and the second is that you should not have any cherished possessions. The second follows the first for obvious reasons, but even if you ignore the second at your peril, you simply cannot escape the first lesson.

Our son is an absolute master mechanic, problem solver and demolition expert rolled into one unstoppable package. Brick and concrete retaining wall? Not a problem – reduced to crumbled bits of mortar and brick dust within days. The resulting landslide makes it even more rewarding for the amount of effort put in. Waste water pipes that have rather stupidly been left in the ground where BuddyBoy plays? Solution: pull out a brick from the few remnants of garden edging and use that to smash the pipe. This also provides lovely bits of sharp piping which can be used to create further hazards for unwary feet.

The bed in his room has suffered – he managed to rip a hole in the top covering of the ensemble base, and pulled out the stuffing around the timber slats. Our return volley was to screw a large piece of timber across the top of the soft surface (also trapping some toys which we couldn’t get out). The other night we couldn’t find him in his locked room – he had crawled underneath the bed, ripped the fabric off the base and crawled inside to sleep. The next day he proceeded to pull all the foam and padding out from the inside. Bed: 0, BuddyBoy:2.

He objects to sheets and will rip them off the bed or sleep on the dirty floor rather than on a sheet. So we bought an organic, heavy cotton mattress protector – sewn to fit like a covering over the mattress with a zipper at one end (like a fully enclosed sleeping bag for his mattress). It took him two minutes to break the zipper, and about twenty minutes to rip every single seam apart on the very sturdy cover, so he could pull it off the bed and throw it out of his room.

Survivor iPad covers do not survive. If the Army would like to test their next model on BuddyBoy we’d be more than happy to provide his services.

Childproof locks or childproof gates are oxymorons. Also very easily broken.

Door-slam Stops do not stop doors from slamming, and tend to explode into several sharp projectiles.

Christmas ornaments – please, just don’t do it. Let alone anything else that may stand on a surface, hang on the wall or dangle from the ceiling.

‘New’ furniture has to pass several tests before we let it in the house. First of all, it needs to be incredibly heavy. It also needs to be so sturdy that anything open-able can get slammed repeatedly and with great force, and still not fall apart. It has to be able to withstand at least 22kg jumping and bouncing on it or swinging from it. We must be able to wash crayon, pencil, pen, poo, food and various other unidentifiable smears off it easily, with no decorative crevices to catch any of the aforementioned. There can be absolutely no MDF (medium density fibreboard), chipboard (particle board) or plywood on it – all of these will disintegrate into their original states with BuddyBoy’s careful attention. Of course, it also needs to be cheap (or free) as it absolutely will get ruined and need replacing.

Electrical items obviously do not fit any of our furniture criteria, which is why we’ve had to replace anything he gets his hands on. DVDs are expensive when you have to replace them every week, but it turns out that media players, hard disc drives, remote controls and TVs are not that shock resistant either.

I am seriously not strong enough to talk about all of the books that have suffered under his ‘tenderness’. I love books – and I still have PTSD about it which flares up every time he touches a book. We’ve tried sticky taping edges, covering pages with Contact covering, and laminating individual pages and binding them back into ‘book’ form. Nope – they all end up in the bin.

My husband has become an expert at replacing door handles. It turns out that the older style door handles we had (which matched our old house) can be taken off quite easily, rendering you a prisoner in the room unless you happen to have a pair of pliers on you.

Clothing presents a problem. It’s easy to tear with teeth during a meltdown, and once it has a hole in it, it gets picked at or just ripped into shreds. As he tends to get holes into his clothes on a regular basis while climbing our fences, we go through a lot of clothes. Recently, BuddyBoy has been working on his fine motor skills by “snip, snip, snip” and practicing with scissors. Scissors and fabrics are not a good combination. Shudder…

I could add car seats, water taps, toys, curtains, any item of kitchen ware, candles, carpet, walls, tiles, plants, fences, window frames and probably anything else I can think of to the list. All of which we’ve had to replace, fix, remove or otherwise spend time and money on.

Could I please add that to my list of items the media could make the public aware of about Autism?