The girls and I planned a day out with Grammy today. Our plan was to play at a local Children’s Museum, then have lunch. However, nothing ever goes as planned.
The Children’s Museum was a total bust. There were two huge field-trips there, and the place was packed. Between the noise level and all the people Beth could not handle it. We stayed about 30 minutes, if that, and had to leave. She was so overwhelmed she could not focus on anything and was just running laps around the second floor.
We went to Plan B and drove out to one of her favorite McDonald’s Play-lands, where we spent two wonderful hours playing, munching, laughing, and being silly with Grammy. Although Anne could not get past the first tube, she was perfectly happy staying on that level, playing guard to the “castle” and making numerous trips up/down the stairs. After 2 hours Beth was running herself ragged, and we had to leave before she overheated or got sick. She had a massive meltdown, and obsessed about “playing” until bedtime. Thankfully our new adventure to find chocolate (Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups), did have her smiling a bit in between her sad moments. Plus, she fell asleep for a bit in the car, which I had hoped would help her feel better; but when she woke up and found Grammy gone, that was whole other issue, and many tears were shed because she missed Grandma.
The five hours we spent at home until bedtime were rough, to say the least. Beth laid on the couch bundled up in a blanket sad and crying on/off for quite some time. When she was up and moving around, Anne could not be anywhere near her, or she melted down. Poor Anne doesn’t understand how they can be playing one minute and the next Beth wants nothing to do with her. We had some moments of happy, like when Daddy surprised us by coming home early, but even that could not pull our girl completely out of her funk. Unfortunately, she went to bed a sad, exhausted little girl. I can only pray that she gets some quality rest tonight, and wakes up a bit more regulated tomorrow.
Most people do not see the fallout of an exciting day for us. Most people think that because Beth had fun that everything was great. Most people do not know the full extent of what the fun-time does to her. I felt bad for my mother-in-law today, because she was heartbroken to see the extent of the post-activity meltdowns. It killed her to hear Beth crying, sobbing, gasping, and choking because it was time to leave. Every time Beth sobbed: “I want to play” I saw the pain on momma’s face. Overall it was a wonderful day, but it was followed by our usual aftermath, which for us is exhausting, but normal. For Grammy it seemed to be a sad, rough ending to a great afternoon.
Today got me thinking… How much do we shelter family and friends from seeing and/or knowing the true extent of our children’s suffering? Do we perhaps lessen the the magnitude of sensory overload to protect our loved one’s from enduring the heartbreak we feel when we cannot comfort our children? Although I am always honest about Beth’s limitations in social situations, I think I hold back from telling people how bad it really can be; because I do not want them to focus on the negatives of Autism, I want them to see all the positives and wonder Beth can give the world.
Honestly, I envy the families who can go anywhere, at anytime and not have to worry about the effects of the day. This is not a luxury we have, we must evaluate every situation and decide if the activity is worth the potential ramifications for Beth. One day we will figure out how to best handle the fun activities, and minimize the meltdowns that follow. Hopefully one day Beth will be able to tell us herself, what she is capable of handling without being overloaded to the point of meltdown. I am not sure when, or if, that day will come, but until then we keep trying and praying, while comforting our girl the best we can.
As is typical in our journey, today was a roller-coaster ride filled with highs and lows, but overall both girls came away with some marvelous memories of a Fun Day Out with Grammy. We are very blessed to have love and laughter in our life, and cannot let a little rain keep us from dancing under the rainbow.
Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.