Monday 30 July 2012

It Involves My Children and A Tattoo ... And Now You Have To Read It

For those eagerly clicking on the title, now I have to disappoint you.  No needles or ink was involved.

On Saturday, my two boys went on a little roadtrip with their grandparents to Fort Henry to see their annual Tattoo (for those not familiar, a military performance which is heavy on drum and pipe music). 

There were a lot of concerns about this trip.  Fort Henry is almost a two hour drive away and the Tattoo started at 7:30 and didn't finish until 10.  Two boys, one car, arriving at midnight, no matter how you do the math, it's cause for concern.

My mother and husband both disapproved of the idea.  My father and I were both cautiously optimistic and felt the opportunity outweighed the risks.  Luckily for the boys, Dave was willing to trust my judgment.

Planning little trips like these with autistic children can be a bit of a nightmare.  I have to think ahead and try to guess at all the possible disasters and then do my best to avoid them.  In this case, the big potential disaster was the late night.  So I thought about it.  Nathan often falls asleep in the car, so he would likely get some sleep in transit, maybe even a nap in advance.  Alex hasn't slept in the car since his rear-facing carseat days, but he's more comfortable with sleeping in.  Okay, both of them would have an opportunity to catch up on sleep.  Check.

Second level, disaster control.  On Sundays, Dave takes one of the boys to visit with his mom.  So even if they were cranky and tired, they'd be separated.  Low chances of a day filled with fighting and tears.  Check.  And check.

Next point of concern, the Tattoo itself.  Would the boys be disturbed by the loud noises of gun and cannon fire or fireworks?  Alex is noise sensitive but is bothered more by small motor noises.  If they were using vacuums, he'd be upset.  But he's always enjoyed the Canada Day fireworks, so guns and cannons shouldn't be an issue.  And Nathan has actually visited our local gun range with his grandfather and enjoyed it. 

From there, planning mostly went into logistical arrangements of eating beforehand or on the road, when to start, etc.  Both grandparents and parents are good about remembering the main rule about setting up opportunities for children with autism: always be ready to walk away if it's not working.

I can't predict what they'll love and what they won't be able to tolerate.  So I do my best to set up opportunities and then see what happens.  There have been a lot of things we've walked away from but my children have gotten some great memories from things we honestly weren't sure would work.

This turned out to be one of the great memories.  Alex loved the drumwork and pipe music.  Nathan was a little less thrilled with the program but happy to be out somewhere with people he loved.  My parents found a spot where they could move around and dance without disturbing anyone.  Here's a picture from their visit:

The next day, both boys were quiet but civilized and by Monday all was back to normal.

I'll happily call it a success.

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