Making the Hard Decisions: When Your Home Goes Into Lockdown

Butter is a compulsive eater, meaning he needs to “finish” things.

You know the whole Lay’s potato chips slogan, “Betcha can’t eat just one” chip? Well, they won that bet, hands-down.

In the past few years, he’s emptied vinegar bottles (ugh!), 100% lemon juice bottles (double ugh!), Cosmopolitan and Whiskey Sour drink mixers (just plain YUCK!), as well as more desirable things like cheese doodles, frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, and six liters of soda in a single night. He’s eaten birthday cakes before we could celebrate, licked the icing off ALL the cookies intended for my office Christmas party, and most recently, he devoured twenty Hot Pockets (pepperoni pizza flavor, to be exact), in less than 24 hours. At least he cooked them first.

We hide food in the strangest places. Sometimes we don’t remember where we hid it, only to find it with gray fuzz months later. More often, he finds the hiding spots and we’re forced to find new ones. He obsessively “free ranges” at night, when he should be sleeping. He has been known to visit our fridge in the garage, looking for the soda that he couldn’t find inside.

We want him to modify his behavior, since locking things up teaches him nothing, and since he has managed to circumvent other locks in the past. So we dealt with the free ranging, pantry-emptying, fridge-raiding, and put off locking things up for a few years. There are many reasons, not the least of which involves not wanting to live in a home where the whole family suffers because autism has taken away yet ANOTHER basic freedom.

Unfortunately, we’ve been unsuccessful with teaching him portion control, as his compulsive behavior overrides his stomach… and in some instances, his taste buds. Hello, VINEGAR!?.

So here we are.

Today we have installed a ten-digit passcode lock on a room just off the kitchen area, where we can keep the things that he may “over-indulge” in, should he readily have access.

It’s not a perfect plan. I could foresee some of the scenarios playing out as we installed the lock… and as I type this, I can hear him pacing and making his “unhappy noises” from the kitchen.

THIS IS AUTISM.

Sometimes nobody wins.

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