Why "Running with Bunions"?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

I Want My Brother Not to Have Autism

Wonder Boy's homework was fun. Until the terrible moment he was burned with boiling lava.
The experiment used Starburst candies to demonstrate how rocks are formed. "Rocks have been around since the world started." 

Amaze Girl prodded her brother to scour the yard for interesting rocks. When he refused, she shrugged.

Amaze Girl loved her brother. She knew about autism. She understood his mind worked differently and he needed help to communicate. But understanding didn't make it better when he couldn't be the playmate and friend she needed. Understanding didn't make life easier for Wonder Boy whose every moment, it seemed, was filled with therapy. Whose favorite toys were kept out of reach to facilitate communication. Who tantrummed about pottying and eating. 

Understanding and loving didn't make autism okay.
applying heat and pressure

With Super Daddy's help, Wonder Boy and Amaze Girl unwrapped three different colored candies. To create Sedimentary Rock, they stacked candies in wax paper. They applied pressure by stepping on the mound. Super Daddy cut the formation into pieces. They applied heat and pressure using their hands to weld the bits of candy into Metamorphic Rock.

They created Igneous Rock by cooking the Metamorphic stone. The candy bubbled and boiled. Before Super Daddy could caution, "hot!" Wonder Boy extended a curious finger and touched the burning mixture.

First came the silence, like the sea receding in advance of a tidal wave.

Then? The screaming.

Super Daddy scooped Wonder Boy up, ran the injured finger under cool water. Applied ice. The tip of Wonder Boy's finger swelled, reddened, filled with liquid.

Wonder Boy screamed, cried, kicked, thrashed.

Autism craves structure and routine. While the experiment was outside the usual bedtime habit, anticipation was created with rocks and candy. Super Daddy was present with his calm voice and reassuring hands. And, hello: candy?

Wonder Boy was engaged in the project. He didn't expect a jolt of searing pain, commotion, uninvited touching, cold and wet.

The burned finger hurt. But mostly? The injury was too far off routine to comprehend.

Wonder Boy battled himself to sleep wrapped in his weighted blanket, Thomas the Train on Netflix, his injured hand and a cool compress secured under his belly. Super Daddy applied aloe and a bandaid.


Meanwhile, Amaze Girl? Hidden under blankets, deep in her bed. 

"I'm worried about my brother," she sobbed. She melted into Super Daddy's arms.

"Remember when you hurt your chin?" he whispered. "And went to the hospital for stitches?"

Amaze Girl nodded.

"Wonder Boy won't go to the hospital," said Super Daddy. "Because he has autism, his burn seems much worse to him than it is."

The next morning, Wonder Boy woke up happy. He dressed himself, ate breakfast, brushed his teeth and let Super Daddy change his finger's dressing.

Amaze Girl inspected the emoji bandaids. "When the world started my brother had autism," she said. "When it starts again? I want my brother not to have autism." She held Wonder Boy's (good) hand as they walked to meet school buses together.

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