Apr 06, 2012 0 Share

Going with the Flow

Illustration of flooded house in rainstorm.

Recently I wrote about how Cody’s fear of thunderstorms used to wreak havoc with anyone in the house who wanted to sleep through the night. While we had solved the problem with an airbed in our bedroom, not even this solution could mitigate the events of Tuesday night, two weeks ago.

It had been storming all day. The rains had been particularly heavy and weren’t due to stop anytime soon. Putting up the airbed was a given.

Cody was very tired and wanted to go to bed early. It was around 9 p.m. when he climbed under his covers and said his prayers. About 30 minutes later, Bill got up from bed and yelled out to me. “Ugh! We’re flooded!” Our sump pump had quit working.

In spite of the rain rapping on the roof and windows, and the accompanying thunder and lightning, we had to have Cody go upstairs to his room. He climbed out from beneath his blanket, put his feet into two inches of cold ground water and sloshed his way up the stairs to his bed. While he did not sleep that night, there was no lamenting as there would have been before.

Bill and I worked through the night, each of us sucking up water with a shop vac. We hauled out water soaked pieces of furniture. Lights were on upstairs for us to see. I could only imagine the thoughts that might have been going through Cody’s mind at that point.

The next day, a water extraction crew came and began pumping water with a very long suction hose that lead out to a large tanker truck. The noise and commotion was deafening. While Cody took a curious interest in what was going on, there was still no complaining.

Next, the crew began hauling out large black bags of wet carpet. Cody quietly watched, studying their every move. They brought in many large fans and two huge dehumidifiers and placed them throughout the basement. When they turned them on it sounded like we were in a wind tunnel.

After the crew left, Cody followed Bill and me downstairs. Nothing was as it had been before. The sofa was piled high with books and other items. The furniture was strewn about so fans could be placed near the walls. The floor was bare concrete and still damp. Things had been piled into laundry baskets. The bathtub was muddy from emptying the shop vacs when they were full. The vanity top was dirty from where we had put our hands to brace ourselves to keep from slipping and falling. And these strange green, noisy machines were everywhere.

Cody walked through the basement and surveyed the aftermath of the flood with quiet wonder. A large part of his life was suddenly changed. Nothing looked the same. Still there were no questions, no remarks, no tantrums, no tears, only silent assessment of the situation.

Over the coming days there were trips to look at new carpet and vinyl. Cody liked being in the store. There were many different samples of carpet he could touch and feel. He paid special attention to the high pile variety. He seemed to like the way it felt on his open hand. He took great pleasure in roaming through the store, making sure to leave no area untraveled. We asked him what he thought about putting new carpet in the basement. His emphatic reply was, “I like it!”

Contractors came and went and Cody had no protests. He seemed to investigate each person with great cuirousity.

Soon the carpet and vinyl was down and now Cody revels in taking off his shoes and socks to walk barefoot across the new floors many times a night.

We are now nearing a finishing point. Had this happened three years ago, Cody’s reactions to this uprooting of normal life would have been tumultuous at best. But throughout the whole ordeal Cody had no nervous tics, no hitting his head out of frustration, no negative talk, nor any outburst of any kind. Thanks to years of consistent coaching from Bill and me, and now the positive influence his new tech, Stephen, is having on him, Cody is learning to adapt to change and overcome adversity. He’s learning how much easier it is when you learn to go with life’s ebb and flow.

Though Cody is now 25, he’s still making progress and he still learns new things, every day. Young adults with autism have the same curiosity as neurotypical individuals and sometimes even more so. They have the desire to learn. And it is crucial that they have the kind of support they need to continue to learn and grow all throughout their lives.