As an Autistic adult who also has Cerebral Palsy, I am asked about “Why do you wear diapers?”, “Were you not Potty Trained when you were a child?”. Yes! I was “Potty Trained”, right before my youngest brother was born, after I had turned 4 years old. Looking back from my 55 year-olds perspective, when I was very young, finally being “clean and dry during the day”, “but not at night”, was something which had to be “mastered” by Age 2, given the “child-rearing standards of that time” in the early 1960’s. I was “2 years late” in my Potty Training as a “handicapped” child, with Mild Autism and Mild Cerebral Palsy. For me, “Potty Training” was very difficult to “master”, and my Mother used “extremely harsh methods” to “make me be clean and dry”. I do remember Mother physically pulling down my outer pants and my cotton-lined plastic “Training Pants” and her physically “holding me down onto my wooden potty chair”. She then physically tied my wrists and ankles to the arms and front legs of my potty chair and she tied my waist down with a belt. I was then “left sitting on my potty chair” for “very long periods of time”. My Mother “learned” this “method” of Potty Training from her seeing it being used on “permanently institutionalized mentally retarded children” at the Hogan-Berry Center for the Feeble-Minded in North Reading, Massachusetts where she worked, while she was “dating” my Father, before they married and before I, their “Eldest Son” was born in 1958. My little hands were “tied”, to prevent me from “playing with my pee-pee and poo-poo” and to “stymie” any “self exploration” of my own external urogenital anatomy. I remember sitting there on my “Wooden Potty Chair” with my buttocks over the little plastic pail, and my groin pressed against my potty chair’s “Urine Deflector”, mute and unable to speak. I had to be “silent”, not making any sound or Mother would start yelling at me in a rage, and hitting me. I learned to be a “good little boy”, “mute and helpless”, “tied down like an animal” to my Wooden Potty Chair.
Anyway, I learned to be “clean and dry during the day”, the “hard way”, as a “handicapped child” with Mild Autism and Mild Cerebral Palsy.
From age 4 to age 8 as a “handicapped child“, I did a massive amount of “Wetting My Bed” anywhere from 4 to 7 nights a week. I tried so hard to be “Dry” for Mother and Father. Mother used punishment all the time to “make me be dry at night”, after I had finally stopped “wearing diapers”. I had a “fitted plastic bed sheet” underneath the cloth bed sheet on my mattress.
For me, my Mother’s “method” of dealing with my bladder and bowel continence issues as a “handicapped child” in childhood was “brutal”. Mother also ruthlessly “forced” me to “Pass for Normal”, at any cost, with respect to my other lifelong disability, Mild Cerebral Palsy. It was Age 8, before I stopped using my Tricycle and my 4-wheel “Red Fire Engine” Pedal Truck, and was made to use a Bicycle with “Training Wheels”. At Age 9, the training wheels were finally “taken away”, but I could never pedal very far by myself, due to the spasticity in both of my legs as a handicapped child with Mild Spastic Diplegic Type Cerebral Palsy.
As I was growing older in childhood, my Mother’s mental health “deteriorated”, and increasingly she was becoming more psychotic and violent. Being Autistic, I had no clue whatsoever about what was going on with my Mother, except, that I and my younger brother had to “fend for ourselves” every single day at home, while our Father was away at work supporting our family. Yes! Mother was “in the house physically”, but cognitively, “she was somewhere else”, and only interacted with my younger brother and I, to “scream, yell, and beat the living hell out of both of us”. As an Autistic with Cerebral Palsy, “I had to raise myself”, with “little to no social guidance whatsoever”. With Mother being “insane” and “violent”, I, my family’s “Handicapped Child” had to “cease being a child”, and “function” as a “Little Adult” and take on the “Adult Employment Task” of being a “New Hampshire State Psychiatric Hospital” Back Ward Orderly. I had to summon a lot of “superhuman courage” to physically survive the almost daily physical assaults of a “Certifiable Madwoman” whom could not be gotten into any kind of appropriate psychiatric treatment whatsoever. My younger non-disabled brother and I “did the job”, which the New Hampshire State Department of Mental Health “refused to perform”, to care for Mother and “keep her save”, and to not “end up” as a “Homeless Mentally-Ill Bag Lady” who would have “died on the street” here in Salem, New Hampshire decades ago. With our “care”, she lived to the Age of 72, and finally died in thee Pleasant Valley Nursing Center in Derry, NH in 2008.
As a multiply handicapped person, I have never been cognitively accepting of my “adult” body. Looking back, I would have preferred to have never physiologically gone through “Puberty”. I never wanted to “be an adult”. When I was a teenager, I still played with LEGO, G. I. Joe, and although my deranged psychotic Mother ruthlessly destroyed all my baby/toddler/preschool toys, whenever she was not around, I snuck into my younger brother’s bedroom, and I mutely comforted myself with his “tattered” plushie friend, “Ruffy” Doggie. Growing up, my Mother violently “beat the Autistic Self-Regulation Behaviors out of me”, to “make me normal”. But, whenever nobody was around, the “atypical” Autistic Behaviors of “self-rocking”, “hand-flapping”, “stripping myself naked”, to relieve myself of “uncomfortable” sensory input to my skin, and occasional “playing with my own poo-poo and smearing it everywhere” came out “full force”. I learned to “hide my Autism”, not because I wanted to, but as a physical survival technique to not have my Mother up and “violently beat me to death”, simply for “being myself”.
I tried for years as a multiply handicapped adult to be “all grown up. Yet, in many ways, I never left childhood. Socially, as an Autistic, I “function” at the level of a child of not much older than 8. I never learned much socially about how to interact with the outside world, other than to do simple social tasks, such as behaving correctly in church and to sit still in school and not “correct the teacher”, and to got to the store to purchase food and other items. When it came to performing more complex social tasks, such as performing correctly to obtain and maintain employment in the adult world, I “completely failed”. I also never learned how to socially perform the function known as “Dating and Marriage”. I am “Celibate, Solitary, and Alone”.
End of Part One