Posted by Rebecca Bingham, Special Needs Mommie | Posted in The Special Needs Mommy | Posted on 20-10-2010
I can feel Fall in the air. I didn’t realize how much I was CRAVING this feeling until this week. I was looking over old journals and without fail there are multiple “I just love Fall and can’t wait to make some soups and stews” entries each year. I think it is my favorite time of year. I am not a hot weather girl. Besides the soups and stews, there are a few things that mean autumn time in our family; Disneyland and baseball.
We make an annual pilgrimage to Disneyland every October. It just so happens to coincide with my son’s birthday due to quiet times at jobs and our Utah cousins being out of school for a long weekend. We let him think it is his birthday present. We are awesome parents like that. This year we had a bit of a different situation with him. We have spent thousands of hours in therapy over the last four years with our Cubby to help him get his sensory issues under control. We have practiced with him identifying how his body is feeling and assigning words to those feelings (ie, I feel hurt, I feel scared). We have drilled him in using his words instead of his fists to show us that he is frightened or worried. We have worked on attachment to show him that he can trust his parents and that we won’t allow anything to hurt him. Up until the last year or so, it has been like trying to teach those thing to our kitchen table. Nothing really seemed to be sinking in. We just kept cutting checks and hoping that at some point we would see the fruits of our labors.
Within about 20 seconds of entering the park, we started seeing those fruits. While my other kids were agog with all the princesses and giant pumpkins on Main Street USA, my son seemed to shrink and refused to look at anyone. He kept telling us that it was too loud, there were too many people and that Disneyland was “THE WORSE PLACE IN THE WORLD”. He loved to shout that last part at anyone who would listen. This child has been coming here every year since he was born, so it wasn’t a new experience for him, but because of his new awareness of his body it felt like a totally new experience. By the time he made it to the back of the park to the It’s a Small World ride (which according to him had too many creepy animals and all those kids that wouldn’t stop singing) he was D. O. N. E. with Disneyland. So, we were done with Disneyland. We have lots of rules in our family, but one of those rules is that no one is forced to have fun at Disneyland (what? you don’t have that rule in your family?). Thank goodness for iPhones. We walked from ride to ride with the rest of the family and he waited with us in line, playing games to help him not focus on all the stuff that was bothering him, and then waited outside with me during the rides. It many ways it was his dream come true; tons of screen time and as many railings as he could ever desire to climb on and swing from. The other kids had a great time and did all the Disneyland stuff. We might wait a few years before we go again; maybe we will bring Grandma and she can bring him home when he has had enough. On the whole, I am VERY proud that he was able to handle himself and express what he needed. He used his words, he shifted behavior to stay with us while we were doing something he didn’t like (staying in the park) and we realized that this kid finally realizes that he can feel things that he doesn’t like. It wasn’t too long ago that he never registered pain, never felt dizzy, never felt sick. He was that out of touch with his own body. This is very common with sensory kids.
Yesterday we also took the kids to the Giants game (FEAR THE BEARD!!!). This game was much louder than the ones he has attended in the past. It also started with fireworks and a fly-over by the Blue Angels that even made MY ears bleed a little. In the old days he would have totally lost it and the day would have been unsalvageable. We would have had to come home and he would have been out of control the rest of the day. This time, we just had a few tears and a few minutes sitting outside the stairs and he was back on track. He still didn’t love the noise, but he paid more attention to the game so he could try and anticipate when the cheers were going to happen. So again, huge progress.
I am glad we were still able to officially usher in the Fall. We have lots of birthdays, trick or treating, turkey dinners and other fun stuff to go before we get into the full swing of the official “holiday” season. It will be interesting to see what else has changed with how our little guy views these things. If his reaction to the tooth fairy this morning is any indication (“you mean to tell me that she TOOK my tooth? If I find that tooth fairy I am going to throw her in the garbage….”) we might need to warn Santa.