autism awareness

What The Freak?! Autism Awareness Month

In honor of Autism Awareness month this April, I thought you might enjoy this window into the mind of a child on the autism spectrum. Like all children, Devlin is equal parts sweet and maniac. Only I’m convinced he is 10 times more sweet plus 10 times more insane than neurotypical children.Case in point: A few weeks ago Devlin became obsessed with carmex lip balm. When I mean he became obsessed, I mean he asked virtually everyone he knew, plus any strangers that would make eye contact with him, what their stance was on carmex lip balm. Were they pro, or con? For, or against? Have they smelled it before? Does it smell like cherries or like regular? He wasn’t so much interested in their response as he was to tell them his view on Carmex, which is that he is a big fan. Two thumbs up. Loving his carmex. Dev decided he wanted to secure two sticks of carmex, as he is entrenched in the idea of pairs of things. Also, the carmex was no good unless it was from Walgreens. Carmex is apparently only imbued with its special carmex powers if “originating” from Walgreens Pharmacy. Somewhere along the line, he determined the only way to get a fix for his carmex obsession was a series of calculated steps.

He first wanted to go to the bank where he has a bank account. No matter that I told him I was good for the cash. He needed to do this thing on his own. I drove him to the bank where he withdrew two dollars, which he added to the four dollars he received in the mail from grandparents. I drove him directly to our neighborhood Walgreens. Devlin made a “b” line to the carmex devotional area of Walgreens where he had to make some hard choices about the original, cherry flavor or lime. I thought for sure he would pick the lime and the cherry, but he wasn’t feeling the love from the lime that day.

The carmex display containing three choices instead of the two he anticipated was consternating for him. He insisted on asking every Walgreens associate he could find to confirm the existence of three, not two sticks of carmex, despite the fact that there were clearly three flavors from which to choose in the carmex area. He finally made his decision and we proceeded to the check-out counter, carmex in hand.

He put both sticks of carmex directly in his jeans pocket. Later that night I washed his jeans and melted the carmex lip balms into the washer.


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  1. Michele

    Your stories about Devlin sound so similar to mine about Aiden, who is 11. He becomes less aggressive every year, for which I am immensely grateful. But this carmex thing, especially the part where they are forgotten in the jeans immediately after obtaining them – this could have been a story about Aiden. Thanks for sharing your experiences – it helps me feel a little less like I’m going through this alone.

    1. coymccoy

      You are most decidedly NOT alone! These kids are amazing. Amazingly frustrating and amazingly awesome. It’s not that parents of neuro-typical children don’t have challenges, but this parenting children on the spectrum is some parenting on steroids at times. Thanks for letting me know you’re out there!

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