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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Taking Aspergers on a day trip

Summer holidays with three young children is certainly helping Ethan's Aspergers to blossom!
We had a family day out to York on Saturday. Blimey - it was hard work! The blame can't all be heaped on Ethan and it wasn't all bad. But, in my dreamy depictions of a happy, jolly, family outing on a sunny summer's day, I'd underestimated what it meant to navigate crowded, unknown streets with three children and a husband with Aspergers Syndrome. Even the British weather let me down - August? It felt more like November.
The kids, of course, wanted to buy everything in every shop we passed - which was, on average, one every two seconds. They also oscillated between running off and wanting to be carried. Ethan, faced with the turmoil of not knowing where things were or what direction we should be walking in, battled all-consumingly with google maps - despite the fact we were surrounded by people we could have asked (which is what I did, in the end).
Ethan spent most of the day walking a few paces ahead of us - distancing himself from the chaos and the general mithering of the kids so that I had to keep summoning him back, like a dog to heel. Eventually I got fed up of being sole responsible parent. The children simultaneously talked, nagged, moaned and requested carries from me whilst Ethan, in blissful solitude, wandered ahead of us. I snapped and had it out with him - giving the street performers a run for their money in terms of entertaining passers-by. I should have put a hat out.
Ethan did try - as best he could. He obediently waited for us and tried to walk to our rhythm when I shouted him back, he held Oliver when I plonked him in his arms and he did his best, amid the noise and crowds and over-stimulation, to interact with the kids and respond to some of their relentless chatter and demands so that it didn't all fall to me. Always within a minute or two though, his good intentions would dissolve as reality or, more accurately his attempted escape from it, won out.
The kids, the crowds, the noise and the inability to get his bearings, I knew would be difficult for him. The new realisation that the day gave me was that he doesn't like ambling, wandering, pottering - whatever you like to call it. The whole concept is stressful to him. He needs to know where he's headed, to have a purpose to his journey. A hike in the countryside is fine- he knows that the whole purpose of the journey is the journey. But ambling in the shambles with no clearly defined purpose whilst having to avoid endless people coming the other way, is a whole different matter! The highlight of the day was when we were in the car - on a journey with a clearly defined purpose (going home) eating Mcdonalds drive-thru in the happy knowledge that, in two hours time, the kids would be in bed and we could crash in front of Saturday night TV!

For anyone wondering how 'the project's' coming on, by the way, we're down to floorboards and plaster in Ava's room. Ethan is working on it from dawn til dusk-  alone, unhindered - and he couldn't be more content!

2 comments:

  1. It's hard work Laura. We went to an air display last weekend (Mr H's choice), but only about 5 miles from home. he moaned because we had to park in a ploughed field, moaned because it was very crowded, moaned because the spitfire flypast didn't happen, moaned because the Lancaster bomber flypast was early, moaned because the queues for ice cream were too long, moaned because I left the bottle of water in the car. At his insistence we left early before the red arrows display, because he was sure we would be able to see it from our garden. Oh, and then he moaned because it was cloudy and we couldn't see the red arrows from home. Happy days!
    Hannah x

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  2. Meant to say, glad the project's going well, wish I could get Mr H involved in something like that.
    H x

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