Autism and Tornadoes Don’t Mix!
Tomorrow will be mark 6 months since the May 22nd tornado... that smashed our house. A news team just came to our house to interview us about our experience, and the subject of Autism came up.
When asked “What is the first thing you noticed?”, I blanked out. I had no idea how to answer that... everything was such a mess. I ended up blurting out “Um... I have Autism. I was overwhelmed, and was sitting on the front steps just screaming. I have no idea what I noticed first.”
Up until the tornado, I thought I’d managed to learn to keep things under control. Most people would never guess that I have autism. (Except, apparently, other autistics. Found THAT out the other night!). The day of the tornado? TOTAL meltdown.
I’ve already posted about what happened that day, from a matter-of-fact point of view... but I didn’t really get into the autistic aspect.
The truth is, I completely lost it. Running the 3 blocks from our car to our house was the most traumatic experience of my life. I really need things to be where they’re supposed to be, and running/jumping/climbing over downed power lines, trees everywhere, and seeing a ROOF laying on the ground... I just don’t even have the words.
To add insult to injury, the police and EVERY news station in the cities had helicopters up in the air. I’d never had a problem with helicopters, but that MANY, in that situation? Totally overwhelming. Ever since, even the sound of one helicopter really frays my nerves.
Helicopters, trees on the ground everywhere, my house destroyed, not knowing where our 4 cats are, chainsaws going off in all directions, and people everywhere? Yeah. What a nightmare. On the upside, as far as overstimulation goes... I think I’ve seen the worst. I don’t think I’ll ever have to face anything THAT crazy ever again.
The first 5 months after the tornado were hard to deal with, on a daily basis. Months of chainsaws (especially bad for the first 2 weeks!).. The sound of roofing EVERYWHERE... constant banging, nailing, people everywhere... so much NOISE. There were contractors in and out of the house every day for months. I REALLY don’t like strangers in the house, or people “messing with my stuff”... and we had absolutely NO routine whatsoever.
To make matters worse, in an effort to save as much money as we could... we were in and out of different hotels for 6 weeks. Our insurance didn’t cover hotel while the house was unlivable, so we had to find the best price online... for only a few days. Then another.
At the end of 6 weeks, we just sort of gave up and stayed in the house anyway. It may have been messed up, but at least it was OURS, and we could establish a BIT of a routine. We still have a LONG way to go, but at least the worst of it is behind us.