This is a series of posts that I will be writing regarding our 6 day stay at Disney World in Florida. This is the first time we have gone on vacation in two years and it was emotional, inspiring and educational to say the very least. I hope you enjoy them.
Not Enough Credit.
I freely admit to planning for the very worst. I am ashamed to be honest. Guilt nags me even now, even after so very few of the disasters I predicted barely came to pass. I was worried. I fretted. I down and out internally freaked out for weeks before and every minute of every day we were gone. What was I thinking? He would never survive. It would all be too much, too overloud, overbright. I knew my own irritation with pushing through heavy crowds and magnified that a million thousand hundred fold imagining how Max would feel; Crowded, suffocated, trapped.
A week at Disney World with four neuro-typicals and a kid on the spectrum. What the hell was I thinking?
When I booked the trip way back in August I didn’t know I had an Autistic child. It had been nearly two years since we had had a vacation. We decided to cut down on holiday shopping, pay for it in advance and give our kids a great memory before we left Florida. It was a good plan and one I hadn’t wanted to break after the diagnosis came through. We all needed it and the kids had already been looking forward to it for months.
I kept the plans but started making new ones. I would reserve the right to head back to the hotel any time Max became overwhelmed. I’d sacrifice my vacation to give Max what he needed. We bought a new stroller, one where he could be higher up with a large canopy to block out as much as possible. I bought a carrier and practiced wearing him on my back, giving him another secure place to be if things got too much. I packed his own bowl and spoon. Food he was familiar with, his own toys and movies.
I had everything prepared for Meltdowns, Tantrums and Overwhelm. All the difficulties that I have experienced I projected them all happening every second of every minute of every day of our trip. I had very little hope things would go smoothly. And Max threw me for another loop.
There are a hundred moments of every day where this little boy astounds me and I am ashamed to admit that it is because I don’t give him enough credit. He is so smart. You can see it in his milk chocolate eyes, the perception, the intelligence. He wants to be good, compliant, reasonable. And sometimes life just is overwhelming. This wasn’t one of those times.
We transitioned on and off rides with a great deal of patience and ease, more even than the complaining, irritated adults that surrounded us. Waiting in line was a bit difficult as it was hard for him to understand that yes, the boat was right there but no, we couldn’t get on it. He agreed to wear the backpack harness and or ride in the back carrier, he used a true point to tell me which he wanted. He talked more while we were there, he said bus and pooh very clearly. He said “hoon” (balloon) over and over and at the appropriate times. We had a hard time understanding why we couldn’t just take whatever we saw that we wanted and did cry and scream at times.
But that is normal for any other three year old. THAT IS NORMAL!
Sometimes it’s hard for me to untangle the behaviors that are “Autism” and those that are “Three years old”. We were at theme parks for four days and he acted Normal.* Max is capable of so much. He is so smart and funny even if he doesn’t say a word about it. I need to remember that. I need to remember that even though he is different there is so much more to him than Autism.