Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pass the Pinot #3: Loving Nanny More Than Mommy

I thought that I'd throw in a curve ball at this point. Most of these posts (wherein I'm going through the list of parenting stress-inducers as described in books written by parents of typical children, for those joining our program in progress) point out how much more difficult it can be to raise a special needs child. But, good news...here is an example of a problem that I don't think we have at all. Hurray! At least nobody I know loses sleep at night (or gets hammered) over worrying that their child loves their nanny/babysitter/primary-caregiver-who-is-not-Mom better than Mom. Me thinks that perhaps the author of this book has spent a little too much time in the upper reaches of society/the San Fernando Valley. I think that even most typical parents I know would agree that this one can be filed under "Nice Problems to Have".

For parents of special needs children, the drinking comes into play during the search for someone who is willing and able to watch our kids. You would ideally like someone who has some familiarity with your child's disability, but would also like to not have to pay an arm and a leg. In the olden days when Audrey was under 3 and we were a part of a state-run early intervention program, we were granted some hours of "respite" and directed to an agency that could provide us with caregivers. The first candidate they sent had worked exclusively with the elderly and didn't know from autism. She let Audrey watch TV the entire time I was gone. Hey, it works for the old folks right? I guess I should be glad that she didn't strap her into her stroller and park her in front of the screen with the brake on. Candidate #2 was a rockabilly chick with too-short bangs and too-red lipstick that said her availability would be dependent on her packed calendar of hep-cat meetups, festivals and various happenings with her daddy-o, you dig? OK, third time's a charm. Candidate #3 was 19 years old and over 6 feet tall. In spite of her height, she seemed about 13. But when she told me that, unlike the previous two, she had experience babysitting autistic children, I was encouraged. In fact, she said that she loved babysitting for autistic kids. They were her absolute favorite. I should have stopped there, but I couldn't help but ask her what it was that she loved so much about it. "They're soooo great. One time this one kid I sat for licked a door knob for like 3 straight hours. And this other kid, he just like moved a garbage can back and forth the whole time. Babysitting autistic kids is like the easiest gig ever!" I guess I didn't need to leave the house that badly anyway.

I gave up on the agency and eventually did manage to find some help through the clinic where Audrey went for therapy. But even then I never worried about her loving her sitters more than me. I'm generalizing here, but I think that a lot of autistic children fall into one of two diametrically opposed camps: those that are super-attached to their parents and experience extreme separation anxiety when apart from them, and those that don't have strong emotional attachments at all. Either way, you're not snorting the cooking sherry over the thought that the babysitter is getting more love than you. Whew...what a relief! Finally something that I don't have to worry about.


  1. Do I come in as a close second at least?

  2. You definitely get a lot of lovin' up from Audrey, but not enough to drive me to drink! You definitely are a close second though...with Steve a distant third.

  3. LOL Love Babysitter #3! Well not enough that I'd let her watch my son but enough to let me laugh a little bit ;)

    We fall into the super-attached camp and it's probably my favorite part of ASD- I really never complain about it- it's what I have to look forward to as I have MR, percentiles, delays, and deficits being thrown at me everyday.

  4. Heather, Audrey is also in the super-attached camp and it definitely helps gets me through some of the rougher days. She is very affectionate and seems to sense when she needs to bring me back from the ledge!