A Snake in the Yard
Two nights ago, while I was taking my older kids to Youth Group, Cameron was playing in the woods in back of our house. It is an area that he plays in often and is well known to him.
I always tell him to watch out for snakes. I worry that in all of his pacing, he will literally walk right into a snake and get bitten.
For each thing that an Autistic child is hyper-sensitive to, there are a few things that may escape their notice, especially if they are more deeply drawn into their own world at that moment. Because of this, we check on him often and repeat warnings that have grown annoying to him.
My husband was either on the back porch or in the kitchen at the time. Suddenly, Cameron burst from the woods and raced up the back porch steps in a panic.
“There’s a snake in the woods!” He gasped.
He was right on the edge of panic, so it was difficult to get a straight answer from him. My husband had to ask where the snake was several times.
Cameron pointed and backed toward the door. “Don’t go out there!”
“It’s okay,” my husband said. “Daddy’s going to take care of it.”
“No, Daddy,” Cameron screamed. “Don’t go out there!”
My husband went anyway, searching the woods while Cameron stood frightened in the doorway, screaming, “No, daddy! Don’t go! Don’t go in the woods!” When he finally called out that he had found the snake, he turned to find that Cameron had retreated to the safety of the bedroom. He was obviously frightened that the snake would get his daddy. He couldn’t bear to stand there and watch.
My husband had one of Cameron’s “weapons” in his hand. It was a large stick that Cameron uses as a sword. He took care of the snake the only way he knew how, as he didn’t know what type of snake it was or if it was poisonous. Afterward, he took it across the road and threw it over the bank.
Since then, we have tried to reassure Cameron that it is okay to play in the woods. He just has to be careful and watch out for any more snakes. He refuses to go outside.
Ironically, this takes care of my tick problem, but leaves the problem of a lack of exercise and fresh air. Perhaps in a day or so, he will grow less fearful, but I know that he will not forget.
That is one of the things about Autistic children that is both wonderful and sometimes annoying: They forget almost nothing. This experience will be locked away in his memory along with the memory of the large and creepy-looking spider he saw on the back porch a little over a year ago, the one which frightened him so much that he wouldn’t go outside for almost a week.