[Jessica is my 4 year old son's 25 year old best friend. She teaches him appropriate times to use cool words like "Scrilla scrill!" and "Come on!" when playing video games, shares snacks with him, runs around with him, and acts as his "reward" when he completes a behavioral therapy program. She gets together with "Tootles" as she calls him, weekdays at the office where we work and sometimes, on weekends at home.
Jessica is a regular contributor to this blog. Her posts appear here every other Saturday - when I can get them out of her... (and give Mommy a little break!) So, here it is now... Please enjoy"Adventures with Tootles!"]
When Tootles was first diagnosed with autism, his mommy wanted to get him into everything that could be even remotely helpful as soon as possible. One of the things that Tootles’ mommy wanted him to do was integrate with neurotypical children his age. So, Tootles started going to preschool. He loved it!
He went with BN (see the BN post here) for the first couple months or so. Well then BN left (and we all wanted to find her in a dark alley and break her knee caps with a bat for just up and leaving our little Tootles). Tootles couldn’t go to preschool alone. He was overly excited and a lot for work for one teacher with 11 other students. So, someone had to go with him. Guess who got to go to preschool?
I didn’t go to preschool the first time around so I guess this would be a good experience right?! WRONG!
Tootles loves going to preschool and hanging out with his buddies. I hated it. Ill tell you why…
Reason #1. All the Questions:
“What are you?” (No, that’s not a typo – what was the word used).
“What kind of human?”
A normal one, I guess.
“Are you a mom?”
“What do you do?”
Normal human stuff.
“Can I play with your phone?”
“My mom said I can!”
I don’t care, it’s my phone.
“Do you wear pull ups?”
“Are you a boy or a girl?”
“How do you know?”
My mom told me.
“Do you know my mommy?”
“Do you have a Mommy?”
“Why do you come here with Tootles?”
We are friends.
“Do you go potty on the big potty?”
Reason #2. All the bodily fluids.
I am not super great with boogers, pee and barf. Not my forte. The teachers would say, “Just wait till you become a mom!” Let me tell you. Preschool was all the birth control I’ll ever need!
I saw this kid pick his nose and wipe his boogies all over the place, EVERY DAY! You know the janitors don’t come every day and when they do, they don’t clean that good!
If someone had a runny nose, it somehow, inevitably, ended up on me…. And there was always a runny nose!
The rugrats were not well potty-trained and wanted to be either picked up or to wrap themselves around your leg once they had sufficiently soiled themselves.
The last straw:
Tootles wasn’t feeling well one day, I think that he ate something that didn’t agree with him. He kept climbing in my lap. I started to smell something foul and asked him if he needed to go potty. He just looked at me, half way starting to cry.
I took him into the stall that is meant for ONE 50 pound child. I started to take off his pants just to realize that he had diarrhea to the tenth degree. It was everywhere. His legs, in his crocs, in his toes, the backs of his knees and it just kept coming.
I cleaned him up with as many baby wipes as I could find and grabbed some other clothes for him to wear. (Lucky for me, mommy had the foresight, into my personal hell, to pack some clothes.) I called Tootles’ mommy and told her to come get us NOW!
Once we got in the car, I said, “NEVER AGAIN WILL I EVER GO TO PRESCHOOL.” Of course, I was there the next day. Somewhere, in between, Tootles’ mommy got me some new shoes…
[Solodialogue's Note: Jessica's Adventures with Tootles shows what I consider a very healthy, accepting and nonjudgmental relationship by someone who knew my son, but did not know autism and then has the word "autism" introduced into the equation. True, that when I told her of his diagnosis, I was a little taken aback at her blunt - so what- approach. But since that day, she has shown me how adding a "label" to certain behaviors does not have to change a relationship between my son and others, and between others and me. She's shown me that autism is irrelevant to who we really are inside. And she's shown me that what I sometimes view with worry and fear, can be viewed with laughter, tickles, and love. Jessica can be found on Twitter @squidkisses taunting Jillsmo when she can...]