To give an example of what life is like with Ig, here are a few of his "rules." (To defy them results in a blow-out tantrum.)
- Ig must ascend the stairs before Mom. Mom may not put even one foot upon the staircase until Ig has reached the top and provides verbal permission.
- Ig must always open the car door in the morning when leaving for school. Brothers Oz and B may not even touch the handle of the door. Anyone who attempts to touch the door before Ig does will be beaten.
- Ig must have first choice of all television programming. When Ig is watching his selection, it may not be turned off, nor may the channel be changed, until all credits have rolled and the last notes of the theme song have faded.
- Ig must eat breakfast sitting next to Mom.
- Mom may not shower unless given express permission by Ig. Showers granted to Mom may not last more than 6 minutes.
- Dinner must consist of pasta and cheese. Nothing green, except perhaps the "leaves" of a broccoli "tree" may appear on the plate.
- Should the refrigerator door be left slightly ajar and produce a beeping sound, no one but Ig may close said door.
- Ig reserves the right to wear shorts and t-shirts 365 days per year, regardless of weather conditions.
- Cheese sticks must be provided immediately upon request.
- Socks will be worn at all times, excluding only bath time.
- No singing allowed, unless Ig has given express permission.
- No laughing allowed, unless Ig has given express permission.
Of course, we don't obey all Ig's rules - although life would probably be easier if we did. The brothers have decided on their own to comply with rules 2 and (to some extent) 3. We NEVER turn off Ig's shows before the credits are over. Just not worth it! Rule 6 is routinely ignored, but 10 is respected.
If you have an autistic child, you understand this. You pick and choose which of your child's rigid routines to leave in place, pick your battles. You look for the patterns or rules you've unwittingly broken without prior knowledge of their existence.
It's an interesting life we lead. As parents, it's our job to make the world as comfortable as possible for our little tyrants, who build these routines to make some sense of the crazy world around them - while maintaining sanity for ourselves and the rest of our families.
Piece of cake, right?