Thursday, April 18, 2013

Meijer Gardens trip - Tyke (picture heavy)

Both of the boys had a trip to Meijer Gardens. Unfortunately  with each trip, one child missed school. I do not have anyone local who is free during the day to take the remaining boy. So I let both teachers know and we went as a family. I will be glad when the older two are in all day kindergarten next year. I think that will make things a little easier.
I don't think I have ever mentioned it, but we are a blended family. The boys all have a different biological father than Colonel Sanders. It took about a year, but their father and I get along very well now. To us, it is very important to put our differences and the hurt aside so that the boys do not grow up with parents who fight. I have seen first had how divorced parents who fight effect the children. I do not wish that on anyone. The Colonel knows my ex husband as Uncle Karl and his mother is wonderful. We did not get along while we were married, but we do now. I know it is not easy for her and I really value our relationship. The Colonel knows her as another grandma or Oma as she prefers to be called.

If you would like to see our lunch post, please click HERE.

Both Karl and Oma accompanied us on our trip.

The Colonel was not amused first thing in the morning. We had to be to school by 8:30am. She wanted to help me pack our lunches into the backpack.

This is our "travel pack". I have extra pants, undies, diapers, wipes, Tyke's afternoon acid reflux medicine, a drink, snack, and some sensory items for Clark.

The Colonel is a little silly. She put on the Iron Man mask and then her sun hat. She was quite pleased with herself.

Yes, you get to see me in a picture for a change! The boys ate a little earlier than normal. So we had a little snack before going into the butterfly area.

Clark, The Colonel, and Karl looking at the chrysalis.

All 4 minions. They would not sit still until I promised them pennies for the fountain.

Oma, Tyke, Pork, and the balk half of Clark's head. Here they are in the butterfly garden.

Clark looking at his map.

We went outside to play for a bit. You can see Clark's shoes in the beaver cave. The Colonel is wearing her raccoon jacket.

The Colonel getting kisses.

Tyke, Clark (skeleton jacket) and The Colonel at the Children's Garden entrance.

Pork pointing to a large "spider" in the children's fort.

Pork giving his father a silly look.

Karl was taking a picture of Tyke (not shown). Clark on the log, Pork trying to pick up a log, and Oma watching.

"Pinhole camera" picture of Tyke.

 Sometimes outings are difficult on Clark. Clark has Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder. That is why I carry some sensory items in our "travel pack" for him. We also make sure to give him  several warnings when we need to switch activities or when we are going to leave. This time, Clark did not make the transition to well.

We gave Clark all his warnings and used the logs as a transition away from the fort and the cabin. Sadly this time it did not work and Clark started to have a meltdown. Karl and Oma took the other kids to the bathrooms and to walk them out to the car slowly and I stayed with Clark in an attempt to work through this enough where I could get him to the car. Picking Clark up is not an option unless it is an emergency. This would lead to a very big meltdown and him hitting, kicking and biting. Clark once had one of these meltdowns in the car and I still have teeth marks in one of my car seats. 

So I sat down with Clark and tried to talk to him about how he felt. Since Clark likes cars, we talk to him about how his engine is running. Is it running red, green, or yellow. Why is it running that way and so on. This was helping just a little. Clark did not want a hug or joint compressions, so next we tried the sensory brush. This seemed to help enough to get him on his feet.
Colonel Sanders walking with Uncle Karl. (Picture taken in "Pinhole" by Karl)

Sadly, most people see a child crying and assume that the child just needs a nap, a swat on the butt, or the child is being a brat. Most of the time they will make little comments as they pass you. These little comments seem harmless, but really they cause a lot of problems. Clark can hear them and it was making him even more upset. I knew once I got him on his feet that I needed to get him to the car. I had to exit the garden area, go through the building, and then through the parking lot. If I could keep him walking at a fast pace, we could do this in 3-4 minutes. So off we went. The whole time Clark was crying and yelling. I received friendly looks of understanding as well as little comments. 

As we entered the parking area an older gentleman saw us and decided to come up along side us.

"Is he sick?"
"No, he is autistic and does not do well during transitions."
"So he is mentally ill."
"No, he..."
"Nothing a spanking won't fix."
"To bad a spanking will not fix your ignorance."

Yes, I snapped a little bit.

With that, I stepped up the pace a little bit and made it to the car. I strapped Clark in as fast as I could and let him finish the meltdown. I know Clark heard and understood the exchange I had with the older man and I knew it upset him more.

What other people do not realize is, yes, Clark may be screaming, but that does not mean he is spoiled. Bringing him to the Gardens has its ups and downs. The social interaction and the learning to cope with feelings and over stimulation in large groups like that is worth more than everyone's weight in gold. There was a time when Clark could not handle being in a group larger than 5 without melting down. Some days Clark does better than others. At the same time, large groups are hard. Most peoples brains ignore all the background noise of people talking in the distance, the leaves moving, the sound of feet, the light breeze, and so on. Clark's brain doesn't. So he is bombarded with all of this sensory input. Heavy sensory actions like jumping and pushing logs can help him regulate that. Sometimes it just is not enough. So he either melts down or shuts down. At this time, his brain is so overloaded that he has problems thinking and coping. I was once told that it is like a million thoughts going every which way in his brain and all he can do is scream and hope to drown them out. He feel like his brain is going to explode. He does not necessarily wish to do what he is about to do, but he cannot help himself. He may feel embarrassed, anxious, or many other feelings while he melts down. 
Those little comments like "Someone needs a nap." Or "A spanking would do that child some good." does not help the embarrassment/anxiety he feels. He has worked so hard to be "normal" all day and now he is just overloaded. He just needs to vent and he will be fine. The little comments are not needed. I wish people would just smile and think it instead of saying it.

I admit, before Clark I thought things similar when a child was having a fit. I wondered why the parent let the child do that. Why was the parent not correcting the behavior. Boy, that child must be a spoiled brat. I never vocalized it though. I was raised to keep that to myself. Now that I have Clark, I just give the parent a friendly smile. You never know.

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