Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Aspergian Vacation

First of all, I would like to apologize for not writing recently.  Sorry, we have been really busy.  I have about a thousand different things that I can't wait to write about, but finding the time is hard.  I am hoping that when school starts back up I will have some more time.

What I really want to talk about is the AMAZING vacation that we went on.  My parents took us on vacation to Florida.  There were eight of us.  We drove my eight passenger Sienna there.  Keep in mind that we live in New Hampshire and Florida is approximately a twenty-four hour drive.  Also keep in mind that out of the eight passengers, three are confirmed Aspies and there is one that is definitely Aspie although it isn't officially written on paper by a qualified person.

I worried sick the weeks before our vacation.  What should have been a very exciting time was filled with excitement, anxiety, nervousness...dread.  I wondered if it was going to be a waste of my parents' money going because all I could see was disaster.  I am happy to report that it was the best time in the world and I only wish that we could have just a great time at home!  We were able to spend two great days at Epcot, one great day at Magic Kingdom, one great day at Animal Kingdom and another great day at Universal's Islands of Adventure.  We saved one day for staying in and relaxing.

So, how did we manage such a great trip?  Two simple things.  Planning and patience.  I called ahead to Disney and Universal about the special needs passes.  We used them while we were down there.  If it wasn't for these I don't think we would have been able to manage.  I also purchased some pins for us to wear.  I thought about shirts, but they are more expensive and they would need washing unlike pins.  Also, Kyle tends to wear more of his food than he eats and I didn't want him to have to worry too much about staying clean and avoiding stains.  He wore two pins (because he loved them both and couldn't choose) and I wore a pin.  My pin read, "My child has Asperger's Syndrome, your patience and understanding are appreciated."  His read, "I AM someone with Autism" and the other one was about that he wasn't trying to behave badly.  I underestimated how valuable these pins would be.  I felt at ease out in public.  I didn't feel like I had to go around and explain, or wonder if people were judging and what they were thinking.  It even sparked a few great conversations with people.  The few times we waited in lines and he started talking to the people in front and in back of us (and crossing social boundaries that would otherwise not be understood) people were accepting.  He is a very touchy-feely kid and not once was he 'pushed' away.  I think he hugged every ride operator they employ there.  Everyone really loved him. 

Caitlin also had a pin.  Hers read "Autistic Princess" and she loved it because it was pink.  We also invested in a pair of sunglasses from Disney, ones that she picked out, that she could hide behind.  Remember that Adam Sandler movie where the little boy wears sunglasses and no one can see him??  This came about at the rock climbing wall.  Kyle and Caitlin, brother and sister, both have Asperger's but it affects them in completely different ways.  Kyle is very outgoing and too in-your-face, whereas Caitlin doesn't like people and screams and kicks if you force her to. 

Kyle and Christopher were going up the rock wall and having a blast.  Caitlin wanted to so bad, but she didn't want anything to do with the guy operating the attraction.  I felt so bad because I knew she would have fun.  I was determined to get her to climb.  I finally got her to decide to go and race her brothers.  That was fine until she remembered that she still had to see that 'guy'.  My parents felt bad that I was trying to force her into something that she didn't want to do.  I told them I wanted to try.  I knew that she wanted to and she needed some coaxing, and that I wasn't being mean.  Someone suggested (I think it was my mother??) about the sunglasses, we had tried it before and it had worked.  She didn't have sunglasses with her, so she got to use her daddy's sunglasses.  We told her that nobody could see her.  It worked!!  She went up that rock wall so many times!!  She even took the sunglasses off midway through!  Right after they were done with the rock climbing wall, we headed to the first store we saw and she picked out her own magical sunglasses.

Those sunglasses worked wonders the rest of the vacation.  Many rides have height restrictions.  She refused to be measured.  Kicking and screaming.  There was no holding her.  There was no standing next to her.  After the sunglasses, she didn't mind being measured.  The good thing about the glasses was that she was able to self regulate.  She could have her glasses and put them on when she wanted to.  It worked really well.

So, my Asperger's on the trip...well, my only issue (that was noticeable to me anyway) was my sense of smell.  I can not tolerate certain smells.  They make me nauseated and give me headaches.  The ride down and back would have been more pleasant if I didn't have a sense of smell.  Fifty hours smelling a fragrance that you just can't tolerate when your sniffer is extra sensitive, doesn't make for a pleasant journey. 

For my dad and his Asperger's on the journey...well...he doesn't 'officially' have Asperger's, so I guess I can't really say that anything was...but I can still pick on him!  LOL!  (Hi, Dad!)

I have many more Asperger stories to share about this vacation, but it is almost two in the morning and I am heading to bed for now.  <3