Menopausal mom to 2 young adult sons (one with ASD, ADHD, tic/seizure disorders and the other with attitude).

Friday, 21 December 2018

Re-Entry...a Rough Ride

After 11 nights away, re-entry into Riley World has been a little ummm…rough the past couple of days.

We usually only go away for 4 nights; 7 nights top. Unless it’s away to visit family or the occasional 10-day trip for special occasions. When I first told Riley, that we would be away for 11 nights, he was not impressed. His immediate response was “THAT’S TOO MANY!”  He eventually came around but in hindsight…I guess it was too many. Especially at this time of year.

The “ready to go home” scripting started around day 6.

“I DO have to STAY on vacation! I am NOT going home on December 18th! I have x more nights to STAY on vacation.”

Oh...let me just add in here that on day 4, I had decided we would take an overnighter to Disneyland and Universal to break up our trip because Riley loves to see the Disney characters and his "girls" (from Despicable Me). Let's just say it was much more stressful than I had anticipated. And really...I'm not new here. I'll fill you in on the details in another post. 

So as soon as the wheels hit the tarmac…“It’s good to be home! Is it good to be home?  Yes it’s good to be home again!!”

He was so anxious to get home that he did NOT even want to stop at McDonald’s on the way home. As soon as we walked in the door…

FIRST…hat, jacket, shoes off THEN update visual schedule which
basically meant removing any and all PCS related to "vacation".

Next…unpack the suitcases. ALL the suitcases!

I remembered the last time he ummmm…helped me unpack so I was right behind him. Or so I thought. He had already emptied his suitcase and was just getting started looking for the rest of his things in the other suitcases when I walked in. I found the rest of his stuff and was ready to go about my business when I realized he was standing in the doorway just looking at me.

“Where’s my underwear?”

After a frantic couple of minutes, I realized he had already put all his clean underwear (which were in his suitcase) in the laundry. Trying to explain to him that we did not forget his underwear and the underwear he put in his laundry were, in fact, clean underwear and his dirty underwear were the ones in the plastic bags wasn’t going to fly with him. Nope. No way. Cue “mini”-meltdown. 

I say “mini” because as Riley has matured, so has his ability to cope with his stressors and express/communicate his feelings. Still…seeing him SO upset and trying so, SO hard to hold it together is hard. Really hard.

When Riley hits that point of no return…there is no reasoning that is going to happen. Talking “at” him (and that’s what it would be) is pointless. I have to let him try and “de-escalate” on his own as long as he is not causing harm to himself. So he yelled, he screamed, he slapped his hands against the walls, he pulled at his hair, he cried. But then…he let me hold him. After a short time, he calmed enough that he was ready to go occupy himself on his laptop. For a while, he was loud. Very loud. But in a way that we knew he was just releasing his emotions. 

Oh and just to clarify, it was NOT just the underwear that brought these behaviours on. That (the underwear) was, what is referred to as the "trigger" or in more user-friendly terms..."the last straw" of 11 days away from home. 

Thankfully by the next morning he was happy and excited to go on an outing with his group of friends.

And then……

The following day, there was a huge wind storm and our power was out for 7-1/2 hours!!! 

I’m going to stop here.

I’m starting to hyperventilate and it’s too early for a festive beverage.

The only saving grace…the power was on at the bowling alley for Riley’s Christmas Fun Night and his weeks and weeks and weeks of talking about..."On December 20th I'll see Santa at the bowling alley and what will he say to me? he'll say 'what's your name big fella?' and I'll say 'Riley Tucker' then he'll ask me what do I want for Christmas? and I'll say stuffies of Jenny and Charlie and Dory and Nemo, a new DVD player Sylvania with the new remote, Hotel Transylvania 1, 2 and 3 summer vacation 3 movie dvd collection, the Land Before Time 14 complete collection. That's what I want for." came true. Hallelujah. 

Reciting his list to Santa

The moral of this post…compromise on the number of nights we go away. Riley prefers 4-7 nights; this time it was 11.  Next time I’ll go with 10. 

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Travelling with Adult Autism

Most of our friends are slowly becoming empty-nesters.
Most of our friends are starting to travel extensively to far away places for long periods of time.
Most of our friends are travelling as a pair. 

We travel as a trio for the most part. I refer to Riley as our “third wheel” (spoken with love and affection of course). My friend’s term of endearment for their third is “ball and chain”. I’m stealing that from her because I love it and I think it sounds more ummm…endearing than third wheel. 

The last couple of trips we have taken as a trio, I have been more aware of things that typically a person would probably not notice or even have to think about unless you are travelling with an adult-child with special needs. Things that have just become our “normal” in Riley World.

Having to explain to airport personnel/security for the umpteenth time that “He has autism” when they comment that he should be carrying his own passport/boarding pass etc. In my inside voice I’m saying “Sure…I’ll let him carry his own passport and let’s see how smoothly THAT goes.”  Just to clarify, we have never had a bad experience…just gets tiring sometimes. But then there are the times when Riley will answer questions, ALL the questions repeating the person’s name (because he has noticed their name tag) EACH AND EVERY TIME and it brings a smile to that person’s face. 

Making sure there is enough “down time” throughout the day so Riley doesn’t become “unglued”. This means G and I take turns doing things because Riley can not be left alone. I will admit, this also works in my favour for those times when A/C is more desirable than walking around in +90F temps. 

Walking down the street (not crowded AT ALL) and noticing Riley is getting waaaaaay too close to the people in front of him and you know he’s not going to slow down or back off. Can you say “personal space”?!?!?  He won’t run into them, he’ll just keep “on their heels” (and probably in the same step if at all possible) with them. And no, it would not cross his mind to go around them because he’s much too “polite” to pass anybody.

Having a thick skin so when you’re in a crowded space and he starts getting agitated and talking loud and saying things like “SHUT UP YOU STUPID LADY!  I’M GOING TO RUN AWAY!!” you take it in stride.  Sure beats when he used to yell “DON’T HIT ME!” 

Still, we consider ourselves lucky to be able to travel at all. 

Our criteria is really quite simple. Familiar, routine and under 3 hrs air time is optimum. 
Our destinations may be the same most of the time but who can pass up a 4+ star hotel/accommodations for next to nothing. 
But most of all…our tour guide has the best smile EVER!