Those of my readers who know I have a brother in law with a developmental disability called autism may be a little surprised that I haven't mentioned him in the past few months.
There's a reason.
This past week, we completed (let me rephrase - it's far from complete) a downsizing of my elderly mother in law's belongings and a move for her to be closer to us and to another family member and his wife.
My brother in law with autism, whom I call "B" on this blog, lives with my mother in law. That meant he moved, too.
He moved out of the only house he ever knew, a house he's lived in since early childhood. It would be rough for anyone. But he doesn't communicate much, and he keeps his thoughts to himself much of the time.
The success of the move (from his point of view) all boiled down to a pair of pants.
People with autism depend on routine. It helps them feel secure and safe in a world that doesn't always make sense. The world can be painful, and confusing, to an individual with autism.
"B" wants to know at what time everything will happen. So many times I've had to tell him "B, I don't know." What made it worse is when his mother needed surgery, experienced a complication and ended up hospitalized a lot longer than first expected, we couldn't predict the outcome. We couldn't give "B" the timeline he craved. We couldn't say she would be released on (made up date) July 25 at exactly 1pm. But he survived.
She still hasn't recovered completely. But as for "B", that is not how he sees it.
He wants his routine, his safety. He wants life to be predictable. He doesn't want change.
Moving is not routine. Moving is not predictable. His mother's health is not predictable. Moving is not predictable.
Towards the end, we were racing against a moving deadline and things got a bit hectic and disorganized.
Crisis when they arrived. The only pants we could locate for "B" were the pants he was wearing.
You could see the rising panic in his eyes. He raised his voice. He was yelling. He wanted his pants. And he wanted them now.
Several of us, including his mother, got him calmed. We promised family members would look for them.
We have a lot of boxes and containers stored at our house. We looked. But we couldn't find the pants. Perhaps they are in a mislabeled box. We aren't going to open each and every box. Truthfully, we were tired....so very tired.
Finally, on his own, he came up with a solution and a deadline. If we didn't find the pants by today, one of his brothers would take him to the mall and buy him two pairs of pants. If only all problems were solved that easily.
Well, yesterday, we found them. Their container was mislabeled. Crisis avoided.
So that's that....until the next time.
We have a lot to learn.