Published: 02nd April 2020
World autism awareness day: A day in the life of an autistic child
How is a usual day like for an autistic child? Based on parental accounts, we paint a picture for you
Mother often says that she could replace my wall clock with a painting. This way, I get to look at something beautiful as soon as I wake up. After all, why do I need a clock? I do not know how to tell time. But that was never an issue. My body clock fascinated everyone all the time. I have heard Mother say quite often that I wake up at the crack of dawn every day.
Switch on the bathroom light. Hold the door's handle and push it forward. Enter the bathroom. Close the door. Mother says that it took her two years to teach me this. I cannot leave my room without freshening up and brushing my teeth. Everything has to go in a particular order, the order that I developed over the years. I follow the same drill when I leave the bathroom. Hold the door's handle and pull it, exit the bathroom, close the door and switch the light off. I open the door again to see if the lights are actually switched off.
I smell steaming hot dosa and tomato chutney. What a wonderful way to kickstart a day. I love spicy food and my father knows how to make the best chutney in the world. It is also a relief because there is less chance of me spilling dosa, unlike rice and noodles. This happens a lot during lunchtime because I still struggle to eat rice with my hands.
This looks like a lovely day. I must go for a swim. There's a pool in the society and that was where I learnt how to swim. You have no idea how relieving it is, especially on a sunny day. My mother cheers for me all the time. She thinks I've picked it up quite well and that makes me happy. But then, I look to the side and see a bunch of teenagers, almost as old as me, laughing. Looking at me, they mumble to themselves, calling me 'weird'. I wonder what that word means.
We walk back home. I know this path quite well. I've lived in this apartment all my life. Sometimes, I even walk to school on my own. It isn't much of a hassle these days. Also, there's no need to cross the road. Thank God!
I have excruciating pain in my stomach. Crap! I've got my periods. But nothing to fret about. Mother has taught me the right way to place a sanitary napkin. She used pictures here too. I should probably take a shower.
I go back to the living room, right when the news bulletin begins. Mother is so fascinated by the way I do that. Punctuality must be renamed after me, she says. Again, I cannot tell time using a clock. I love watching the news. It is good fun.
I hear the doorbell ring. It is Reena aunty, my mother's cousin. I like it when she's home. She has a beautiful smile and wears colourful kurtas. She always makes it a point to bring chocolate ice cream along. But every time, she hands it over to my younger brother, Rohan. She never looks at me, even once. All this while, she has never spoken to me. I wonder if she knows my name.
Now, while Reena aunty ignores me completely, I have seen people mock me too. To be honest, it hurts real bad. So, I do what makes me the happiest - I go back to my room, pick up a pen and paper and write. I love words. Writing poetry makes me a happier person.
I go back to the living room an hour later. Rohan is playing with his new car. It is red in colour. Rohan and I are born 10 years apart. I remember how mother would make me touch her big belly and tell me that a baby will pop out of it. I still don't know how. I love Rohan. Even when he beats and punches me, I never speak a word. I scream at Mother whenever she shouts at him. Nobody should ever hurt him because Mother always says that I must take care of him. He wants me to play with him all the time. But for some reason, I hold myself back.
We have rice for dinner. I struggle to eat it. Again. Looks like I spilled more rice. But it is quite tasty. I get up, walk to the wash basin, open the tap, wash my hands, clean my mouth and close the tap. I don't know what time it is. But I am sleepy. I walk back slowly to my room. My bed awaits me.
Disclaimer: The child in this piece is created based on multiple accounts of parents with autistic children