Traveling with an Autistic Child

People are always saying to me that I should take my son places and get out and see some of the fun stuff around us. Well, that requires travel.

Traveling with children is hard. Traveling with an autistic child is really, really hard.

First you have the packing.

IMG_8194Whatever you try to pack or organize it gets a little askew as they try to help. Sometime you even end up missing things because you thought you packed them and he moved them when he was trying to be helpful. Then there is all the extra stuff you have to take along because he can’t sleep at night without it. Like his pillow, his stuffed animals and the little plastic Smee characters (from Peter Pan) that he has to hold while falling asleep, there is also the music he has to listen to all night and the book you read to him until he sleeps. Thinking about it now I should have added his night light but, ah well.   That’s just the list for bedtime.

There’s also his tablet, the ear protection in case it thunders (he’s terrified of storms), the extra pairs of clothes in case of accidents and snack in case of anger episodes to get him back on track.  Hats, sunscreen, toys, and all the regular stuff you pack for a trip like clothes and toiletries.

And that’s just his stuff.

By the time you are ready to leave half the house is packed and I packed sparingly.

But it isn’t just the bring of extra stuff that makes travel with an autistic child hard. It’s the upset to the routine. Most kids that I know that are on the spectrum need routine. Mine certainly does.

For example if you are driving then you need to stop for food at the right times. If you go to long or eat too soon after the last time they get grumpy. Sitting in the care too long makes them grumpy, they need to move around a lot more than the seat belt will allow. If they get grumpy there is the possibility of a meltdown and that is not easy to handle when you are driving down the interstate. Mine will kick the windows or grab my shirt and try to yank me into the back seat. There has also been instances of kicking and pinching. I even got hit in the head with a half-full water bottle once while I was driving. Not the best thing at high speeds.

Another issue is the strangeness of where you stop. I have taken to driving straight through to my mom’s house from Montana. It’s about a 15 hour trip. It’s exhausting and it makes him grumpy but stopping overnight in a hotel is even worse. The last time we were in a hotel he freaked out completely. He was scared of the lights outside the window and spent the whole night trying to get out the door. Well obviously I couldn’t just let him leave. Where could he go? So we fought all night. He screamed and cried. By morning my arms and neck were scratched and bloody and covered in bruises. I took to sitting in front of the door so he couldn’t open it. When he finally did sleep it was about two hours before we had to leave again. So now we drive straight through.

Then once you get where you are going you have to get him settled and that often takes a long time. Luckily we only go to Grandma’s so he’s familiar with it. After trying to keep the routine while you are there, which can get really difficult, you must then make the trek back home again which involves going through all that craziness again. By the time you get home you want to hide and cry but you have to keep going and get unpacked and settled and try to force your reality into some sort of normality.

I know that he needs to be out and see the world but sometimes it is way to hard when you are alone. There have been times when we have gone as a family. My daughter and sometimes my husband are along and that makes it a little easier. Ish. When my daughter is in the back and he is having a meltdown it becomes dangerous for her because he will attack whomever he can reach. So I usually take the seat beside him so he can take it out on me and not my daughter. It is not an easy thing to have to protect one child from the other like that but there isn’t much choice when his is in an angry trance. When he calms down he snaps out of it and he is very apologetic but the damage is done. Better me than my daughter.

So if you see me and ask why I don’t take him places in the summer…it’s just better that way.

 

Best sandals I never thought I’d find again.

I’m not big on shopping. I know I’m a girl and that makes me weird but I hate shopping. I hate wandering around trying to find something that fits (which is nothing) trying to find something in a style that I’m comfortable with (which is not the skin tight thing that is popular now) and worst of all trying to find shoes. Shoes are the worst.

Then there  is that moment of disaster when you are on vacation and you do something stupid like play too long in the ocean and burn your feet. You have to understand I’m of  Irish decent, white skin, red hair the whole bit and I don’t do well in the sun. We were in Florida for my sister-in-law’s wedding and I was playing in the ocean with my kids. Salt water + Sun + white skin = OH MY GOSH MY FEET GOT BURNT! I couldn’t wear my shoes that I had brought for the weeding. My feet were red and swollen it was awful! So my lovely husband took me to find shoes I could wear. On a small island we didn’t have much luck and time was running out before the wedding so we went into this surf shop.

Surprisingly there was a wonderful pair of easily slip on sandals there. They were perfect. They were made by Pali Hawaii.  However I didn’t know just how wonderful of a thing I had found. They stayed on my feet no matter how dusty, wet, or sweaty I got. I loved them.

IMG_5529It has been nearly 8 years since I bought those shoes. They are finally wearing out. I have worn the bottoms out of them. I was so sad to get rid of them because I thought that I wouldn’t be able to find another pair short of going back to Florida.

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But then…

I was walking past the Hallmark store. I usually don’t go into that store unless there is something that I need, I’m not big into browsing. But there was one day that I had the feeling that I should go in. And Holy Cow and Carrots there they were.! Same sandals that I had bought in Florida! I was so excited I started to giggle.

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When I got home I compared the two pairs to make sure they were the same. I couldn’t believe how much I had worn down the first pair. IMG_5533This is why I’m not a good shopper. I wear things until they are worn to nothing and then keep wearing them until I find something equal or better. Not that I’m picky, I just have high standards. I guess I’m an old fashioned sort and I’m OK with that.

 

The Invisible Menacing Monster III

Poor Moonlight. We left her alone in the house with the Invisible Menacing Monster while we were in Colorado.

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I don’t know what battles may have taken place but there were reports of innocent plants being injured. Preliminary reports show collateral damage is minimal.

Moonlight seems to be ever vigilant when it comes to peering under the beds. Perhaps she has the enemy cornered?

Vacation coma…ish

Well I have to apologize again for not responding to everyone. I went to Colorado for a week to see my family and take my son to his neurology appointment at Children’s Hospital.

Didn’t have much access to the internet and cell service was sketchy so I didn’t get to read or respond to much. However we are back home and trying to recover from the 15 hour drive and the heat. My daughter loved the 90 degree temperatures but I’m about dead from them. Also my son didn’t travel well this time and tension and stress were a little out of hand.

It was a super busy trip with visiting family and the museum and the 4th if July. I just wanna lay in bed and not move but life goes on. I had to be to work this morning and now I’m facing laundry and unpacking. Sometimes I wonder why we do this to ourselves.

Well the point is I’ll be slowly working my way through the army if emails waiting in my Inbox and getting back into the swing of things soon. I hope the vacation coma goes away soon.

Fun withTeenagers: Driver’s Ed and Breakdowns

Recently my daughter became old enough to enter into that so longed for institution of driving. That most coveted teenage goal.

Oh goodie for me…

We signed up for the course and she worked diligently on her homework. And then we did the parent/ student homework which consisted of me driving her around while she observed specific traffic conditions and reported on them. Was kinda hard to find her examples of some of the conditions it situations because we live in such a small town and there is only one stop light, but we did it.

Then we got to practice driving.

I wasn’t ready for that.

I think I was more scared than she was but that’s the curse of being an adult. You know how much can go wrong.

I must say, though, that she actually did quite well. She had been driving with her instructors and had gotten a feel for driving. I was shaking a bit after the interstate lesson but then again so was she. She’d never driven 75 mph before. But we lived.

So here we are learning some more practical bits about driving: changing tires.

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There’s nothing wrong with my tires but on the way to Colorado from Montana our rear wheels were making funny noises. This worried me a little because my daughter did some of the driving during the 15 hour trip and I didn’t want something to go wrong while she was at the wheel.

We pulled off both rear tires and dug around only to find that the wheel bearing on the drivers side was loose and jangling around.

So there you go, another lesson learned about car repair. We are just learning all kinds of fun things this week. Getting the bearing replaced before going home because the last thing we need is for the wheel to wander off of the car as we are zipping along at high speed.

Ah such adventures…

So what happened to summer vacation?

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Yes, it is only June. I realize some schools aren’t even out yet. Ours ended on May 30th. At least I thought it did.
Then I looked at the calendar. Days are filling up with school stuff pretty fast. Extended school year with speech therapy for my son, volleyball fundraisers for camps, camps for said volleyball, driver’s ed, gym sessions, and various other activities my kids are involved in are scrawled all over the calendar already into July!
What happened?
When I was a kid, school STOPPED when it ended and didn’t start again until about a week before the official first day of school when sports practice started. We never had this much going on during the summer. Summer was when you got to actually be a kid and enjoy yourself.
If we are going to have so much going on for the kids during the summer why do we bother ending school? If we are trying to keep them out of trouble why not just have school year around with a couple of breaks here and there. It would be a lot easier than trying to organize child care around all the craziness.
I would imagine the teachers would like a break but they don’t get it because they are still at school doing all the extra summer stuff.
I just really don’t understand this arrangement at all. Anyone care to explain?