Autism and Sudden House Changes

Recently, we discovered some unexplained water on our kitchen tile. We eventually called our insurance company so they could come out and take a look.

It turned out to be a slow but significant leak in our kitchen area.

And, it not only involved water, we had mold as well.

What happened?

Well, our insurance company opened a case and assigned a company to come out and expose any and all water leaks and mold. First, they set up a “containment area.” This had to be done because exposed mold is a health hazard, and they were about to expose all of our mold in order to treat it.

Second, they worked alongside a leak detection company to pinpoint the leak. They did.

Once that was done, they had to tell us how they had to take care of a dual problems.

How exactly did they expose our water leak and mold?

They had to remove all of our lower kitchen cabinets.

After setting up the containment area, they came the next day and removed our cabinets.

Basically, we had to move everything out of the kitchen and live around this containment area for a week while loud machines dried the affected area up and mold was cleaned and treated.

How did my son with autism do throughout this process?

Honestly, he’s not all that outwardly demonstrative with things like this.

We explained what was happening to him and why. “Our insurance company came in because we found water that was coming in from something that was broken somewhere. Then, the company found mold. So, here’s what he have to do with a water leak and moisture and mold.”

Our kitchen was (and still is) located on our kitchen table and our dining room.

I moved my son’s “spot” to a decent amount of space on that table. Surrounding him is the microwave, dishrack, and a few other items.

But, he accepted all of that pretty well.

He even asked the guys if he could look inside the containment area, and they gave him a peek.

Did have any problems?

There are two problems that I’ve noticed:

First, I think living around the containment area began to wear on him (and us) after a few days. There was a spot leading from our kitchen to a hallway that had a very narrow opening for us to squeeze through. Our refrigerator, washer, and dryer were accessible, but only barely. For example, the fridge would only open about six inches.

That got old really fast.

So, our son would ask us, every day, when “that stuff” was going to be removed.

Before it could get removed, we had to have a mold/spore test inside the containment area, and we had to pass it.

It took two days to satisfactorily pass this test.

This was hard for our son because he expected “all of that stuff” to be removed for two days. It was only on the third day that it was all removed.

He was frustrated with each passing day still living with the containment area.

The second issue is going because we are now in the process of rebuilding our kitchen, which means hiring someone to do the work. Not only does that take a little bit of time, but our cabinets won’t be installed instantly—like my son wants them to be.

This is what we’re dealing with now—our son wants it all put back together and now. Well, okay, to be fair, he gave us a week.

So, now we have to explain to him that it’ll be AT LEAST four weeks, probably longer.

How is he doing with that explanation?

Not as well as I’d like.

Last night, he repeated three times that the “kitchen is going to be fixed in a month.”

We tried to explain to him that we still didn’t know exactly how long it was going to be, but he got himself into a loop and couldn’t get out of it.

Yes, it’s his way of dealing with this situation.

It was sudden, and all three of us (four with the dog) are uncomfortable living here.

But, I see this as an opportunity. Another life experience for our son.

Getting him through yet another one takes patience and persistence. We’re trying to tell him the step by step, when we know it.

We keep telling him that these things happen to everyone, and he’ll get through it.

We’ll all get through it.

What else can we do?

(Oh, and it’s also an opportunity to get a new kitchen! My son doesn’t quite see the coolness in that, but I do!)

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