Well look at me: two blogs in two days. I’d better be careful else pretty soon you might start expecting it.
This shouldn’t be that big of a deal. It shouldn’t warrant the next X number of minutes it’ll take to write about it nor should it truly come as a surprise – to me or anyone really. Yet here I am.
This afternoon I took the Terror Twins to McDonalds for lunch for their usual Happy Meal with chocolate milk followed by some time in the playland. Right or wrong, it has become somewhat of a tradition; especially when it’s too cold to go to the park.Today, however, the playland was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. There were no available tables and kids of all ages everywhere. Many parents, including myself, were forced to stand. It was noisy and there were kids running, pushing, and screaming at the top of their little lungs.
It was far from an idealistic place for a child with autism; one who has had issues in the past with the sensory overload that loud, crowded areas provide. Those situations have caused him to withdraw and cry uncontrollably. Before he found his voice to simply ask to leave, my son Matt would sometimes climb to the top of the structure inside the playland to dry hump the ground; his method to escape and decompress. There were also times he’d just strip down to his diaper or underwear.
But not today – and not even recently now that I think about it.
Today he laughed. He ran with the other kids. He met some friends (at the very least he sort of attached himself to a group of girls who raced everywhere and went down the slide together.) He was social and semi-engaging. It really was everything you’d expect from a 5-yr. old boy.
Yet I was going to leave before that had a chance to happen. My own anxiety almost denied him an hour of laughter and playtime.
As parents of an autistic child, my wife and I are always on the lookout for anything that might trigger a negative reaction from our son. While we don’t necessarily avoid those situations, we’ve certainly become aware of them. As a matter of fact, we’ve often forced Matt into those environments in order to allow him to get accustomed to them.
Today was another proof that strategy is working. Two years ago, Matt would be throwing clothes down the slide. Today, he was sandwiched between several girls and laughing hysterically – on that same slide.
Once again I was reminded that Matt’s winning; that he’s kicking autism’s ass. Perhaps I should just better learn to get out of his way.