Autism Awareness

Zachary at the zoo. June 22, 2005

April is autism awareness month so I wanted to focus some time on autism.

In Zach's younger years we really struggled with the uncertainty of his actions. He wasn't safe on busy streets at times because he could suddenly run out on to the street. At that time we had a condo in the Beltline area. For those of you unfamiliar with Calgary, the Beltline is downtown.

I said that he wasn't safe at times because there was a time when he would run away from the street when there was a car on the street two blocks away. I would rather have this problem than the reverse problem.

We decided it would be far safer for us to take Zach to the zoo and have zoo passes so that there wasn't any cars to worry about.

In those early days it was nearly impossible to get Zach to look at the animals. I would point to the animals but he would look at my hand. Just no understanding of pointing.

It would be a challenge going to the zoo on my own with Zach and Maddie. I started with a single stroller and would be terrified how Zach would respond when I told him it was time to go.

The one and only day I had gone with the single stroller, we couldn't have been further from our car and Zach didn't want to go home. What do I do now?

My option was to put him in the stroller and carry Maddie but how do I do that? Lay her down on the ground while Zach ran away on me? Or the alternative, throw him over my shoulder with him kicking and screaming with one arm and pushing the stroller with my other hand. So that is what I did. He screamed the entire way. We bought a double stroller after that. An absolute necessity and well worth every penny!

At times when we were leaving places and Zach wasn't wanting to go we had a battle getting him into the car. My husband and I were both hit in the head so many times. More times than I could ever count. Transitioning from one place to another was a huge struggle.

Meal times were always a battle. Figuring out what he would eat and actually getting him to sit down and eat it. Zach also had one beverage, milk. Man, he drank enough milk for our entire household.

Looking back on those difficult days brings back a lot of very challenging times. I am very grateful those days are in the past. But again...Zach was and is so worth it!