How Autism and ADHD Almost Burned My House Down

Whatever you choose to do with your life, do not marry an AuDHD person with knowledge of the law. A cautionary tale.

I woke up this morning to find that Josh had not slept. This isn’t uncommon for either of us, considering the squirrel-wheel nature of our brains.

But this morning, he casually mentions that he “caused a backdraft” in our pellet stove and shows me his singed facial hair.

“WHAT,” I ask, “DID YOU DO?”

“Well, I wanted to burn off the creosote.”

“Ok,” I say. “So you cranked it up really high. And then what?”

“I took a toilet paper roll and sealed up the end with some toilet paper and wax, and then stuffed it with paper towels soaked in isopropyl alcohol…”

“JOSHUA. You threw a Molotov cocktail into the pellet stove?!”

“Well, not really. A Molotov cocktail involves gasoline and a glass bottle.”

“Okay, fine, so it was a jankety Molotov cocktail,” I clarify. “But WHY?”

“I mean, really, it was more of a pipe bomb. Both ends were sealed.”

“Joshua. Michael. I was willing to go with your argument of semantics, but you have actually somehow made this worse.” At this point all of my Axe-fueled flamethrower mom fears have taken over.

“I considered the risks! I did everything I could to reduce the risk of bodily harm. Besides, I think you’d be more upset at the possibility of a chimney fire.”

“So what you’re telling me right now is that you conducted a risk analysis, you knew the possibilities, and then you did it anyway,” I ask.

“Not really. I knew what I was doing! I minimized every possible risk. I thought everything through,” he says in his defense.

“Okay. So you conducted a risk analysis. You knew it was a terrible idea, and then you did it anyway. You’re going to tell me that none of this was related to ADHD impulsivity? You didn’t just enumerate the risks and then say ‘eh, fuck it’?”

“No… I mean, I knew what was going to happen. That’s why I closed the door as soon as I threw it in. It’s just when the fireball came out…”

At this point, he realizes that NOTHING HE HAS SAID has helped his case, and his closing argument is “at least I didn’t do it in front of the kids?”

So, my friends, please listen to me.

An AuDHD spouse who has previously studied law is a terrible idea.

I’ll break this down.

Autism

A vast subject matter database containing at least surface level knowledge of many, many things.

A beautifully efficient database system that cross references that knowledge and allows one to call up related information based on memory categories.

Special interests. Specifically, the amount of time one spends studying and attempting to optimize one’s home heating system, I.e. the pellet stove.

A mode of thought that enables one to theorize many different outcomes to a specific scenario, usually ordered in a way that reflects the likelihood of that outcome as it relates to the conditions of the original scenario. One considers the possible results of chucking a cardboard pipe bomb into the pellet stove, and then sorts them according to how likely they are to happen.

ADHD

Hyperfocus. One becomes absolutely consumed by whatever task is at hand. In this case, what is the most efficient way to clean the creosote from the stove? The question in this case is morally neutral, but when combined with other traits can have disastrous consequences.

Impulsivity. Sometimes the monkey’s in one’s brain take over and say “fuck it. We’re doing it anyway.” While our wife is asleep because we know damn well she would never let us do this otherwise.

KNOWLEDGE OF LAW

The ability to argue one’s thought process in a coherent fashion along with the desire to defend said thought process as if it were a client.

AuDHD. The ability to make carefully thought out terrible decisions.

On second thought, maybe marrying this man wasn’t such a bad idea. At least I understand his thought process, and life is so much more interesting this way.

Oh, and the pellet stove looks beautiful. His facial hair… well, it’ll grow back. Besides, I know that sometime soon I will be the one making the questionable decision. And it’s good to know that my husband will be just as exasperated and yet still understand why it happened.

Understand and support each other, my friends.

But keep some burn cream in the bathroom.

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Brynne Elizabeth

Brynne Elizabeth

Your middle aged, hot mess, neurodivergent BFF. Wife, mom, mental health advocate. I am occasionally witty.