Today we dusted. When we reached our sons room, he became agitated. Initially because of the noise from the vacuum cleaner and smell of the polish and then from our moving some items, he spent 37 minutes repositioning them back into place. Never leaving the task until it was completed to his satisfaction.
Another trait of Autism can be the absolute need for things to be done in a certain way, or things positioned in exactly the right place. In this case, the hand controls for our sons TV and CD player have to be lined up exactly ‘right’ – as we moved them while dusting, he would not leave his room until they were exactly back in place.
We have learned to understand this and realise that no matter how much we encourage him to leave them or allow them to be randomly placed, it doesn’t work and we have to allow him time to complete the task. Even something like switching off the TV, for us would be the flick of a switch and then we move on. In the world of those with Autism, that simple act can be like our leaving the house with the door left wide open. It has to be switched off, then switched back on to make sure the switching off can be done again and checked, not once, but probably 14 – 15 times or more until his mind processes the fact it has been done.
There is a process of preparing him for the movement of things like the hand controls. It takes days of explaining that we will put them in a different position. Showing him, allowing him to put them back the way they were and repeating this time and time again so he gets used to it. On the day we achieve the move, that then becomes the norm and in this position the same repetitive process starts anew. “Random” is something that cannot be comprehended in his mind, nor accepted and so we support his need to be precise until in his mind, it is safe to move away.