Digging Up

Filed Under (Estee) by Estee on 24-02-2012

William Morris admonished, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Was he ever in a house with kids and a to-do list for an autistic one that seems to run miles ahead of me?

Ugh. I’m obsessed with clutter and yet I’m a secret stasher. My house looks organized, but watch out for those closets and filing cabinets! I like to hang on to everything! As many of you understand, my life is too busy to often think about things, so they get stored. Over the years though, the things in my life grow and gather and I find the closets too full, the toys too plentiful and I’m getting too tense with it all. Even with my autistic child and all the things I have to look ahead and plan for, I want a simpler life!

I look in the basement at all the toys. As is the case for many of our autistic children, baby toys are still comforting. It’s especially hard to toss out the old when, in Adam’s case, it becomes new again. Or for the toys that we were told to purchase when he was in early therapy, I keep thinking that someday, we’ll still get to them. Someone will want to teach him how to use the board games for reciprocal play.

I met Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project at the Blogher Conference in New York City several years ago. Her idea of living a happy life is de-cluttering our lives. I had to say that the idea of organizing didn’t make me happy, but the idea of having less to worry and think about does. Today, as I confront my office files and piles of Adam’s artwork before I get to his toy area, I’m so tense that I had to take a break and write this post just to avoid it! Why is clearing the clutter so anxiety-provoking? Why am I breathing heavier? Is it the time I know I going to have to invest? Will it take days? Weeks? What of the many lists and projects might I find that I have left undone? If they are to do with Adam, I’ll feel really guilty — the PECS I made, the schedules, the social stories, the other stories I write and leave in unpublished piles. What if I find out that I could have done more for Adam in all those to do lists that were left unchecked?

Ack. It seems I’ll be digging up more than just clutter.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.