In my October 31, 2005 post, Temperamental Mismatch, I talked about being a “messie” and how that bothers Billy Ray since Autism is a part of his life.
It is a Catch 22 of sorts. Billy Ray’s ability to tolerate clutter is reduced during times he is experiencing confusion or agitation for other reasons or even unknown reasons. When he is having a difficult time he generally sleeps less and requires even closer supervision. My energy level as well as my ability to spend enough time on household organization and cleaning is reduced during those times.
To the degree possible involving Billy Ray in the solution is the most desirable. When he is determined to march around the house to get rid of excess energy (I only wish he could share some of his energy with me), I am suggesting that we put one item at a time away. Maybe it is a paper or mail left on the breakfast bar. Instead of my following him while he marches around the breakfast bar, I suggest that we carry the papers to my office. We are involving him in all the household projects that he will participate in. For example, I bought a lightweight cordless vacuum from the Black and Decker outlet store. He is able to vacuum throw-rugs (sometimes with my hand over his hand to guide him). He may only have a tolerance to do one or two a day but it is progress. Billy Ray and I can unload and reload the dishwasher together.
As a “perfectionist messie” (see www.messies.com or multiple books by Sandra Felton including The New Messies Manual) it is hard for me to do small projects, I want to get it all done at once. Ms. Felton teaches “baby steps”. That is the only way it works for us. I am learning that I can sweep or mop the kitchen floor using the Swiffer type disposable dusting or wet clothes while I am making Billy Ray a bag of microwave popcorn. I can file one or two items from my desk while Billy Ray is on the toilet because I can hear him and see the bathroom door from my desk (my office is next door to the bathroom).
Billy Ray’s impulse control issues are a problem. He will throw things that are used for decoration or things that are out of place. My wonderful mother-in-law helps so much with this problem. Despite vision issues of her own, she made coasters out of materials that won’t hurt anyone or break WHEN (not if) he throws them and put them in a basket with a silk flowers woven around the handle. They are lovely on my coffee table, which makes me feel better and safe for Billy Ray.
Adapting is the key to this problem as well as other issues with Billy Ray.
Peggy Lou Morgan