More Autism Advocacy, Our Way

Charlie walking strong  
I don't know about you, but I'm not at all sure what to make of the, um, scent of
White Castle's contribution to autism advocacy, candles scented with eau de Slyder—de burger, that is—and packaged in a box made to look like a White Castle franchise; proceeds from the candles (10$ apiece) are to benefit Autism Speaks. It's a novelty idea, that's for sure, but, a candle that smells like greasy ground beef on a pasty bun?

Yes, I am a longstanding vegetarian, and the scent of a burger isn't my favorite though (once again in the 'the sacrifices of mom-hood' vein) I have schooled myself to handle the smell of McDonalds permeating the interior of the white car, Charlie being steadfastly loyal to the Golden Arches. (We don't do Whoppers, I guess you could say). I can say, I don't think I'd wish to have Slyder scent 'gracing' our house.

And perhaps the point of the candles isn't to make other places than White Castle franchises smell like White Castle franchises but to 'raise autism awareness' and to donate some dollars. Certainly it's something different than puzzle-piece-themed wristbands, car magnets, t-shirts, caps, and the like. Candles, though, have never been a big thing in our household. Objects with a lighted flame in the vicinity of Charlie: Probably not the safest combination. Too, he's as attuned and sensitive to smells as he is to sounds and visual stimuli—when he was younger, there was a lot of sniffing of his and Jim's shoes and socks—and adding extra, artificial odors might be a sensory insult best done without. Smelling burgers but not seeing them would be quite disorienting, potentially.

I guess you're getting the picture, I'm feeling bemused at this latest entry in the name of 'autism awareness'; only time Charlie's had White Castle (some fries) was years ago in the Bronx, when Jim's office was located at the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University. Autism Awareness month MMX slipped away without me being too (ahem) aware of it, as April was marked by Charlie having some serious disruptions in his sleeping, that seem to be, maybe and perhaps, resolving into something a little more routine. He does seem to be going to bed later and getting up earlier than he had been, but he seems to be getting back to sleeping through most of the night.

Something else that's evolved over April is something of an urge—a quite constant urge—to be active in Charlie and so the current rather extensive rounds of walks and bike rides adding up to several miles. We've been thinking that Charlie has, mayhap, discovered that being physically active is a very good way to deal with whatever feelings of frustration, anxiety, chaos he may be having: Run it out. Indeed, I was Charlie's age when I started running myself. I'd had severe asthma as a younger child and had always been told to stay away from sports and exerting myself too much; being able to run, and then to run on my high school's cross country team, gave me a never-before-had sense of the power I could generate with my own body. After being told not to run for years, it was really something to run uphills and fast, with all my might, and I'm wondering if Charlie is feeling something like this when he breaks, Carl Lewis-like, into a glorious sprint.

Thursday Charlie did awake around 5am. He'd been coughing intermittently all night (allergies, we suspect) and woke crying and miserable, probably as he couldn't breath. He and I enjoyed a walk under the rising sun with the power-walkers and triathletes-in-training. Jim drove him to school and hung around for Parents' Day at the end of which Charlie kept saying "home!" and laughing. He apparently was in laughing, happy mode all day. Driving home, he pulled a carton of vanilla soy ice cream from the back of the trunk and ate it up with a fork (though he kept asking for a spoon). We walked (and sprinted); met Jim at home; hung briefly in the house before Charlie called for his bike helmet, donned it, biked off with Jim skimming along beside him. Charlie did settle in to use the computer, eat dinner, and endure me bugging him to page through a book I read to him and then it was out again, this time with Jim. And then (you are maybe relieved to hear) bed.

Being aut and around: As you know, that's how we do autism advocacy around here.

And yes, thanks to all of these long walks interspersed with sprints, I think I may be returning to my old running form. Makes it easier to run to catch the PATH train, bags and laptop and books and papers and coffee on my back!

10 Responses to “More Autism Advocacy, Our Way”
  1. Liz Ditz says:

    I’ve been reading every day but commenting — well, never.
    I’m a dedicated carnivore, but those those slider candles — well, I would find them aversive.

  2. Regina says:

    Poor Charlie. Allergy season is creeping up here too, and I need to check up on whether we have enough pseudephedrine in stock (and thanks meth cooks for making that a “controlled” substance in our state!). I am familiar with those 5 AM chokey wake-ups.
    Y’know – I’m willing to give the White Castle folks a pass for trying – maybe they aren’t at 100%, but they are trying. Sometimes I *think* that we need to separate our particular personal assumptions and prejudices out from what is being proferred up. I actually don’t know whether my daughter would think that a burger-scented candle is NG/no good. If she does, well then, bad move, and I won’t get one, but if she thinks it’s the cat’s pajamas, then – thanks, give me one of those! If one doesn’t support the beneficiary, full stop, then don’t buy it. That’s always the market choice.
    We went out tonight to a big chain restaurant – my daughter was a peach. It was pretty clear that the waitress knew that she was not dealing with the “usual” customer, but she didn’t turn a hair and treated her exactly the same as me, my husband, and the rest of the party, and sometimes I think that that is what inclusion is all about. We had a good time.

  3. emma says:

    Yuck!!! No thank you to the candles.

  4. beau says:

    Slyder candles? Just the thought of that makes me go “eww”.
    And I’m a meat eater.

  5. mothersvox says:

    Couldn’t believe the burger-scented candles . . . I am nauseated just thinking about them. What were they thinking? Sorry to hear C’s got allergies going. M does, too. We’re trying Zyrtec and a nasal spray and she’s doing better.

  6. autismvox says:

    I try to avoid candles as a whole! just, not, safe.
    I don’t know what Charlie would think—I do suspect he would find it jarring, maybe even to go into a White Castle!

  7. What bothers me is that “autism awareness” thing. I feel like, “Okay, we’re aware, now what?” I guess these movements build slowly; but I would so love to see 10% of this and that go to a housing fund for autistic adults. For starters…

  8. autismvox says:

    @Susan, it does seem to me, too, that ‘promotions’ in the name of ‘autism awareness’ might show a little more understanding of autism, sensory needs and everything!

  9. Jen says:

    I’d like a White Castle burger scented candle, if it went to an actual good cause.

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