My holidays have been dominated by sore throats and sniffles than mistletoe and egg nog. We have been dealing with the kind of viral infection that only tried and true epidemiologists from the CDC handle with a tyvek biohazard suit. Then in the midst of a viral outbreak comparable to only that of the Dustin Hoffman movie ‘Outbreak’, Ewan decided that swallowing a marble might be an interesting venture. Needless to say, I have been up to my elbows in things I’d rather not discuss. Not yet anyway.
Now that the hunga munga virus has dissipated, we decided to get out of the Level 4 Biohazard zone otherwise known as our house, and emerge into the public once again. After moving cross country and ditching our old digs we decided it was high time to find a new couch, among a great many other things that we left 1000 miles to the northwest. It was finally time to fully furnish our new place and we set off on a grueling adventure to find some household supplies and appliances. I’ve been sitting on beach chairs for the last 30 days and while getting in and out of said chairs has been great exercise for my buns and thighs, aesthetically speaking, they aren’t very pretty. So after 30 days of pretending my living room is Cocoa Beach, we left the house on the great couch search. I knew I was not returning home until I had a bill of sale for one living room couch but what I didn’t know was that I was really on the search for the one and only truly autistic couch.
We find ourselves at a little diner, a real hole in the wall. My husband has GPS like abilities when it comes to finding these places. I mean, there can be any number of recognizable chain restaurants surrounding our vehicle and somehow he manages to steer our Hyundai right to the parking lot of the busiest local eating joint there is. I’m pretty sure his frontal lobe is stuck in “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” mode at all times. And that is how we came to end up at a local diner, all five of us crammed into a corner booth.
Now eating with Ewan and Vaughn is an adventure in and of itself. Ordering food is somewhat like climbing Mt. Everest. Finding foods that they will actually consume and ones that these two munchkins aren’t allergic to, either physically or psychologically, is ambitious to say the least. Now try to imagine Ewan looking around his surroundings in this crammed little diner and using his ‘Armageddon’ loud voice to comment on said surroundings, including the hulking Harley rider’s colorful attire who happened to be sitting 2 feet away at the counter. At this point, I’m hoping my husband doesn’t get beaten up by Captain America. Then Ewan’s attention is diverted to the TV as he watches the Orlando news broadcast. Seconds later he shouts in panic, “Oh my God there’s been a shooting!” Now you can imagine the amount of attention this statement might bring in a busy little place such as this. As I calmly try to reassure patrons and Ewan that the shooting was over 45 miles away, I attempt to pry him from under the table where he has assumed the safety position commonly used in tornado drills. At this point, I shoved a menu under his nose and said, “Either you order or I do mister.”
Ewan has taken a real interest in ordering his food lately and of course, Ewan being Ewan, he does it with gusto. He orders with the bravado and precision of a military general. This 8 year old has demanded to speak to managers because of ‘stuff’ in his orange juice. Here is a ‘foodie’ you don’t want to mess with. I’ve often thought this boy should start his own guide to restaurant eating complete with what I like to call, ‘The Ewan Review.’ The waitress finally made her way to the table and listened attentively as Ewan assailed her with questions of what the cook is willing to do in order to make perfect chocolate chip pancakes, which incidentally, do not grace this menu. He is delighted to find out he has this waitress wrapped around his cute little finger as she promises him perfect chocolate chip pancakes. As she brings him back a stack of candied flapjacks and a side of bacon, he proclaims in his ‘Armageddon’ loud voice, “Oh my, this MUST be a 5 Star Restaurant!” Yep, you heard it right. We’ve got a 5 Star Autistic Approved Restaurant, a gem of a diner, inconspicuously sitting off Highway 1 right here in Florida.
Armed with full stomachs from our delightful breakfast we head out to find the couch that will grace my living room for years to come. Before we go any further, let me explain a little bit about my husband and me. For the most part, I am a simple creature. I like comfortable, utilitarian things and I like warm, fall colors. So despite the fact that I am now a Floridian, living on an Island, there is no way in God’s green earth that I will be caught sitting on a pink couch. Or lime green. Or sky blue. Or any of these other popular Key West colors. I’m a transplant from Illinois that lives for dark wood and dark colors. Then you have my husband. He likes cheap. He’s quite simple really. He can be persuaded that any color or style will work if the price is right. Without me, he would’ve come home with a $50 purple couch and rationalized it seven ways to Sunday.
We traipsed through store after store sitting on couch after couch and all the while I’m dragging Anthony away from the discounted ugly couch sections. While in one store Ewan gravitated toward a rather large corduroy looking couch and said in his ‘Armageddon’ voice, “THIS is the couch mom! This is the one!” as if he had found Sauren’s One Ring from Middle Earth. I had about as much hope of dragging him away from this couch as I did getting the One Ring from Gollum’s grubby little fingers. Ewan had found his precious.
The problem with The One Couch To Rule Them All was that this couch was about 2 grand. It might as well be 2 million as there is no way Anthony is going to sanction a purchase of this magnitude. At this point, Ewan has thrown himself on the couch and is demanding we get this little slice of sensory heaven. And I must say, this corduroy look alike microfiber couch has the potential to be The Autistic Couch. It is a place to sit and a fidget all in one. The self-calming aspect to this corduroy has huge potential for my emotional rollercoaster of a son. Jean Ayres herself would’ve seen the potential for treatment in this little tactile sofa sectional. So we explained to Ewan the dynamics of the modern economic system complete with savings and checking accounts and direct deposits until we had distracted him long enough to pry him off The Autistic Couch and into the backseat of the Hyundai.
We were no longer on a mere great couch search now; we were on the hunt for The Affordable Autistic Couch. This is not as easy as one would think. This couch must pass several tests in order to become a couch of such distinction. First, it must pass my color palette test. Then, it must pass the comfort test. We looked like a family of Goldilocks as we sat, slouched, and sprawled across thousands of sofas this past Saturday. Next, it must pass this new ‘Sensory Integration’ test Ewan had devised. Finally, this poor couch must pass the Husband Test, i.e. it must be cheap. After hours and hours of shopping my blood sugar started to drop as those 5 Star pancakes began to wear off. My husband deftly handed me a Diet Coke before I started slapping various sales reps.
Hours later we find ourselves desperate and tired and seriously wondering if this mythical Autistic Couch actually existed. In a last ditch effort we began driving aimlessly through the streets of Melbourne stopping at any store with the world ‘furniture’ in it. Finally, we end up at a place called SleepyHeads where the light burst forth from the clouds and landed on a dark brown, corduroy like, microfiber sectional sofa. Angels could be heard singing in the background. We had found THE couch—the couch that passed the color test, the comfort test, the new sensory test, and even passed my husband’s financial sensibilities. The couch that rules them all.
We had stumbled upon The Autistic Couch.
It’s a good thing we bought it too because Ewan clung to it like a barnacle, yelling, “This is THE couch mom. This is The Autistic Couch!” It took a signed copy of the bill of sale and delivery notification in his pocket before Ewan willingly left that store. Even now, he stares longingly out the window waiting for a delivery truck to bring him 83 inches of tactile happiness.