To most people a holiday is a time to relax, to idle away the hours and forget about your stresses.
That’s most people.
The parent of an autistic has a somewhat different experience.
It all starts rightly enough, you convince yourself this time will be different, you can forego the schedule and pecs cards. But you are wrong. Don’t get me wrong. I love going away and being on holiday. However my sanity does not.
Meltdown Moo was a nightmare. On the journey there, which turned out to be about 9 hours due to all our breaks, he kicked me in the back the entire time; screamed and freaked out every time we went on the motorway (he has this irrational hatred of the motorway) and needed the loo constantly. Once we were there he loved it but was a bit freaked out that we were moving house without the majority of our pets. The biggest problem was outings and meal times.
My husband and I have already established that we cannot go shopping with Moo (think attempted thievery, trying to attack other children, offensive and inappropriate language, violence, screaming and incessant twirling and you get the gist). However we had deluded ourselves into thinking we could have a nice family day out: WRONG and go in a kid friendly restaurant, again this was an idiotic thought.
On the lakes cruiser my husband had to endure the rude gazes of old ladies, though it was quite obvious Moo had issues and my hubby did tell him off a gazillion times, the tutting, the stern looks. If I had known and not been out in the wind and wet trying to get some evocative images I would have said something, or accidentally (on purpose), driven my wheelchair into them.
At the falconry we had to endure Moo trying to attack another child, collecting stones and trying to shower in them; shouting offensive remarks and wanting to be in the park or eat ice cream all the time — two things which were not about to happen. The saving grace was that owing to the time of year and the weather on that particular day there was only one other family and they were very nice and very understanding.
I think the best [read worst] moment was when we visited a Brewers Fayre, we forgot they had a soft play in them. Now we cannot trust Moo in soft play areas when other children are around. He gets very upset and anxious and lands up screaming insults, threats and using violent behaviour — where all this comes from I do not know as I do not even believe in smacking, let alone anything else, but he does. And like many other parents of kids on the spectrum we have discovered that telling him off only serves to worsen the behaviour — catch 22.
So, being sensible parents who don’t like conflict and embarrassment, we by passed the play area and suggested we eat outside (though it was bloody cold) “oh look at the park” we exclaimed as oh ushered the kids on the slide. Oh dear, too late, the monster had already noticed the soft play, cue running inside, screaming, shouting getting into the soft play, hubby trying to drag him out of the soft play because he had insulted another child and cue the looks from other parents, those with neuro-typical children who just decide you must be a terrible parent who cannot control your offspring. All this while trying to prevent the younger child from copying her big brother.
Things were not ok when once outside again. Oh my God a fly, right cue more screaming. Yes a fly meant we had to go inside as Moo was screaming and wailing and about to have a fit (he has a huge phobia of insects) and what’s worse, it landed near his food. What the uninitiated will not understand is that this meant he was not able to eat his food, none of it, cue more money down the drain — we tried, we begged, we threatened, we implored but no it was not to be.
Once inside things got worse and to cut a longish story short my husband landed up so distressed that he tried twice to leave, once successfully. We never got the deserts we paid for and as he was leaving (he was carrying Moo out by this point and chasing the princess) he knocked Moo’s head. At this point some rude waitress commented (only Moo heard this and echoed it for hours) “Your child is very rude”. No he’s not, he’s autistic, when he’s not having a meltdown he’s very polite and lovely ta very much, didn’t say this, as a lot of the time, I just thought it.
I stayed behind to finish my tea, I do not give as much of a [cough] shit anymore, unlike my hubby. As I sat there I heard a waitress make a snide comment behind my back and some punter (I was facing the other way so I know not who) state “don’t worry love, not all kids are like that”.
I hate comments like this and they depress me deeply. As I drove myself out I pictured an explosion as I left.