Saturday, August 02, 2014

Spectrum Saturdays: Autism on Vacation

Bridget just peered over my shoulder, "Whatcha writing about?"

"Vacationing with Autism," I answered, like I'm totally sure of that title.  "Don't you want to vacation with Autism?  'Cause it's cool?"

"No." She looked at me as if I'd grown a second head.  To be fair, looking at me that way is common because A) she's 10 an B) I'm sometimes a little weird. Of course I think I'm a delight.

But we do, vacation with Autism, I mean.  We do everything with Autism.  And we wouldn't have it any other way.

That said, taking a child with Autism anywhere you've never been before, is somewhat...anxiety producing.  Will they love it?  Will they hate it?  Will they scream?  Who the hell knows?  It's a toss up.
So, imagine my incredible surprise, when Ciaran fell in love with our vacation house.  The boy seriously could not have been happier there.  He ran in the grass, he took walks, he went to the clubhouse.  He swam in a damn lake.  Like a fish, too.  No one was more surprised by that than me.  

There are a few things I planned, in order to make the trip a little easier for Ciaran.
  • We took the Wii.  Since he's obsessed with it, and it's hard to keep an Autistic kid from whatever he's perseverating on, we just included it in our vacation.  It's not always possible, but when it is, it's worth it.
  • I brought some toys I knew he loved.  In fact, I let him pick them out.  
  • I planned meals that I knew he'd eat.
  • I planned some things for him to do in the car, none of which he did, because...who knows.
One thing that we've been having an issue with, and was a vacation concern, is bedwetting.  I tried just giving up on overnight pull-up type things for bigger kids.  Nothing was working for him.  They were too big, too small, and they all leaked.  Why bother spending money on these things if you're still going to end up with a wet bed in the morning?  And maybe he was just wetting the bed because he thought the pull-up meant he could.

Giving up on pull-ups was a big, fat, failure.  But since the pull-ups were a big fat failure too, at least I wasn't out the money for them.  But we were going on vacation, staying in a vacation house that wasn't ours.  I did NOT want him wetting the bed there.  I went to the store to really look at the options, and I found GoodNights Tru-Fit Underwear. (Full disclosure: I bought them with my own money, and have received nothing from Kimberly Clark for this quick review.  They don't know me at all.)  These things are great!  They're like real underwear, but with a PUL pouch inside for a pad insert.  The pouch stays close to the body, is waterproof, and is gusseted to keep the wet in.  But outside they look like any other brief underpant.  They worked!  There were no leaks, no mess, and Ciaran loved them.  He liked wearing underwear to bed, and he liked not waking up in his own urine.  Who can blame him?  I'm not a big fan of it, either.

There are a lot of things that are hard for Ciaran.  But he took genuine, deep joy, in being away for this vacation.  He literally cried when it was time to come home, because he was so happy there.  And while that didn't stop me from running around like a crazy person this morning, packing up my giant family while trying not to spook the stray dog outside our house, it did make me really happy to know that he'd enjoyed our getaway as much as I did.  Autism can not keep us from living our lives.  We may have to make accommodations to make things easier for our kids, but we are not going to hide away from the world.  

Well, tonight I'm going to hide away from the world.  I'm exhausted.  I need a vacation from vacation now!

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