Autism is a funny old thing. Sometimes I marvel at the strange tracks my daughter’s mind makes, those times when she laughs at nothing in particular, that delightful infectious laugh that you can’t help but join in with. But then there are the other times, when those strange tracks lead to darker, more malevolent places, where everyday household items become lurking malevolent monsters, ready to wreak havoc on the innocent. So here are 5 things my daughter is scared of.
1.) The CBeebies sign language interpreter.
You know how it goes. You’re happily enjoying your Sunday afternoon, ready for a spot of Octonauts, and then – bam – there she is, that tiny little person who appears out of nowhere and just stands in front of the TV waving her arms around.
Where does she come from? And where are her legs? How is she standing in front of the TV when she doesn’t have any legs?!
Wee Girl refuses to watch Swashbuckle now, even when there is no sign language interpreter — she buries her face in the sofa and refuses to look in case the woman pops out from where she’s hiding behind the telly and starts gesticulating.
2.) Vacuum cleaners.
Currently the home for our vacuum cleaner (which is a rechargeable Dyson, so fancy it comes with its own little house and is technically subletting from us for nothing, the freeloading bastard), is on the landing halfway up the stairs. This is a failed attempt to stop Wee Girl from going upstairs and flooding the bathroom. It doesn’t work, but if you’re looking for a low-stress way of ensuring your child loses his or her fear of vacuum cleaners, I can highly recommend it. It certainly works better than using the vacuum on a regular basis, and it means you have to do much less vacuuming.
3.) The toilet brush (Shh, don’t tell Mumsnet!).
One day, a toilet brush mysteriously started lurking next to the toilet in the bathroom. At roughly the same time, Wee Girl had a couple of accidents, and until I spotted her peering into the bathroom warily, I didn’t connect the two. I’m not sure what she thought the toilet brush was planning on doing, but considering his only task in life is to rub his head in faeces, I’m sure it couldn’t have been good. Lesson learned — don’t try to clean your toilet. (Wait, what do you mean, that’s not the lesson I’m meant to learn from this?)
4.) Hand driers.
Bastarding bloody hand driers. The bane of the life of every parent potty training a small child, whether the child has autism or not. Who thought that these were a good idea? What’s wrong with paper towels or letting your hands dry naturally like we did in the stone age? Actually in the stone age I bet we didn’t wash our hands at all, and while we may have all dropped dead at 35 for reasons wholly unconnected with poor personal hygiene, aside from a bit of berry collecting and mammoth-slaughter all we did was laze around and graffiti in caves. Come on, guys, do yourself a favour and go paleo: stop washing your hands. Or if that’s a step too far, let them dry naturally. What, will they drop off if you venture outside with the merest speck of water still clinging to them? Will you get frostbite? Really, I want to know.
And a special place in hell is reserved for the arse who thought the perfect location for the hand drier in a nappy changing room was right next to the door. At roughly toddler head height. Brilliant thinking, dude. How many hand drier phobias have been born because of that genius?
5.) Men in sombreros.
Picture the scene: a busy London bus, Wee Girl happily sitting on my lap as we trundle off to god knows where. The bus stops and on gets a man in a sombrero.
A MAN. In a SOMBRERO.
I spent the rest of the bus journey holding back Wee Girl, trying to stop her from pointing at this poor man whose only crime was his unusual choice in headgear, and shrieking at the top of her lungs. The whole journey. Fun.
What irrational things terrify your child?