Although it’s the weekend, the sound of a thousand small parts falling down somewhere in the house interrupts your sleep. You wake up to witness your washing machine go through the refurbishing process. You pause, trying not to freak out, and ask your son what he’s doing. He goes on to give a very complex explanation of how he’s tired of hearing the washing machine make all kinds of noise, so he’s working on making it “more efficient.” You pause again, and try to make an even bigger effort not to freak out. “Trust me mom, I know what I’m doing,” he says. You decide to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he has read and memorized every appliance manual you own. You go back to bed.
After what seemed like a minute, your sleep is once again interrupted by a loud sound; you already know it has to do with your child. You try to keep your cool. You get up from the bed, and when you realize that it smells like smoke, you run to the laundry room. Apparently, the washer has exploded. Your child is covered in a black residue, and all your laundry and walls are black as well. “They don’t make them like before,” is what your child says in his defense. Now you can freak out. Continue to do this for the next few weeks.
At work, you find yourself having to beg your boss to let you leave yet again. Although you know he won’t understand, you say, “it’s an emergency sir.” But it’s irrelevant. Within his seemingly perfect life, he’s oblivious to the rest of the world. You’ve gotten another phone call from school; this time is serious. “Aren’t they all?” you think out loud, trying not to lose your mind. “The police are here. You need to come right away,” the counselor states. It’s safe to freak out now.
Without your boss’s permission, you leave work and drive as fast as possible to your son’s school. When you arrive, there are three school police patrol cars parked in front of the main gate. Your heart starts beating very fast, and you find that it’s hard to breathe properly. Inside, a committee of faculty and staff has the frozen image of fear on their faces. A completely new level of freaking out comes upon you. You are escorted into a room where your child is being held. “Held?” You ask, but they have no chance to answer. A loud howl coming out of your mouth prevents them from speaking.
Although it’s physiologically impossible, you know that the warming sensation you’re feeling is the blood boiling inside your veins. In a corner, your child lies on the floor. He has adopted the fetal position, and his hands are handcuffed with white plastic bands in front of him. He has a bruise on his right cheek and his eyes are swollen, evidently from crying. You make a super-human attempt not to lash out at everyone in the room. You turn around to find two police officers attempting to explain how they “had to handcuff him, because he was completely out of control, and they feared he was going to hurt himself or others.” “Idiots,” you think. These are the people who are supposed to be protecting us? You demand that he be released from the clearly unnecessary restraints. This is done with incredible speed. You help your distraught child up from the floor. He’s shivering and his eyes are bloody red. He has an absent look on his face, and takes a few seconds to recognize you. “You people have to be the most ignorant bunch I’ve ever had to encounter in my life,” you state with absolute certainty. “He had a seizure, did anyone notice that?” you add with fury.
The unwelcoming committee stares blankly at each other. It was clear that nobody noticed this. You grab your child and try to leave, but are immediately stopped by the police. They explain that you cannot leave because he “needs to be taken to a psychiatric hospital to be evaluated,” because he was “out of control,” screaming and punching everyone that tried to get close to him to restrain him.
Overwhelmed with anger and fear, but accepting that you are surrounded by people who are incompetent and ignorant about your child’s condition, you don’t freak out this time. Instead, you make the decision to disregard law enforcement, grab your child, take him outside and put him in the car, then drive away.
Once home, you realize that neither the visits to the psychiatrist, nor the books on child rearing and Asperger’s were enough to prepare you for what was to come. This is a much more difficult journey than you had anticipated. You pour yourself a large glass of wine, and get ready to smoke a cigarette. Immediately pause; you just remembered you don’t smoke cigarettes. “Perhaps I need something stronger,” you ponder, then laugh. You go to your child’s room, watch him sleep, and wonder how they could think of him as a threat… Ignorant people: always there, always present.