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

Saturday, 28 February 2015

We Went Cruising......Part 2

We haven’t always been able to travel by air. In the early years of Riley World, vacations were spent in the mini van driving for hours on end…prior to built-in video screens…with only read/sing-along cassette tapes blasting through the speakers. If I never hear Hakuna Matata or Circle of Life again I’ll be okay with that.

Travelling by air has been a process and continues to be a process. Different/changing security measures mean no routine. No routine means the unknown. The unknown means anxiety/stress for me…I…I…I mean Riley.

Now remember how I said I was able to schedule 3 flights (all under 3 hrs) with 2 layovers between 2 and 2-1/2 hours and it worked out great going down to Fort Lauderdale? Sadly the same options were not available for the trip home. Oh and to top it off....the nasty bug that had gone through both my sister's and my family had caught up with me on the last day of our cruise. I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck. :(

Our trip home went something like this:

·         Disembarkation time was 9am.
·         Wait (30 min) for shuttle to Miami airport (1 hr drive).
·         Arrive at airport 3 hours prior to departure.

·         Heading through Security was when the fun began. We have the taking off your shoes part; putting things in the bin part; and walking through the sensor part down pat now. The walk-in screener is ummmm still a work in progress. We both forgot about his sunglasses so R needed further “processing”.  
Note:  TSO – Transportation Security Officer

TSO:           May I see your glasses please?
R:               *Leans into the TSO and looks into his glasses* 
TSO:           *confused look*
Me:             Riley can you give the man your sunglasses.
R:               *grumbling takes them off his head and hands them to the TSO*  HERE.
TSO:           Thank you.
Me:             He has autism.
TSO:           *nods and turns to me*  I’m just going to have to touch his ankle.
Me:             OK.
TSO:           *bends down to pat down his ankle*
TSO:           You’re fine to go. 

·         Pretty sure our gate was in a previously ‘set for demolition but temporarily reopened’ terminal. Only redeeming factor was the Pizza Hut Express for Riley.
·         Our ~3-1/2 hr flight to Chicago was delayed by 30 minutes. We only had a 65 minute layover in Chicago.
·         We had hoped to get a bite to eat in Chicago before our next 4 hr 40 min flight. We were all hungry. By the time we landed we had to go directly to our gate to board. We had to go by restaurants and a great looking food court. We had to settle for the Inflight Menu. *sob*
·         We were the last to board and then waited at the gate for 40 minutes waiting to be de-iced. AUGH! We spent an additional 15 minutes on the tarmac.
·         At about the 3 hr mark R started to become unglued. First it was because I had changed my watch back to our time zone. “Your watch is wrong!” Then he realized it was after 8:30 therefore it was time to change into his PJ’s. “Where are my PJ’s?” Finally almost in tears “I just want to go home.” *sigh*  Me too too. He thankfully nodded off until just before we landed.

·         By the time we landed R was done. I was done. We were all done. We were at 14+ hrs since we had left Florida. In Riley World 5-10 minutes of waiting can seem like an eternity. Here’s a little snippet as we waited to get off the plane.

R:    There’s lots of people. *totally annoyed*
Me:  Yes. We need to wait patiently.
R:    Like at Christmas.
Me:  Yes, like at Christmas.
R:    Peeeeeeeople!

At this point 2 of the 3 people in the row ahead of us took a sideways glance at us. J2 later told me that an elderly couple 2 rows in front of us looked back and scowled. After 15+ years in Riley World, I have become better at focusing on Riley and ignoring “the lookers”.

Me:  *I say nothing and place my hand on R’s knee.*
R:    I’m going to PUSH THE PEOPLE!!  *arms outstretched; tenses face and grunts as if pushing*
Me:  We have to wait our turn.

And then…R started scripting scenes from Caillou (the bane of my existence). I was beginning to crack and remember thinking “LET'S GO PEOPLE!! HE COULD BLOW AT ANY MINUTE NOW!”  I can not remember much else. I was delirious from popping flu/cold medications.  

·         One final layover before our last flight home. On a prop plane no less. While waiting to board I remembered I had yet to pull out my “secret weapon”. What was I thinking?? Why had I not given this to him on the almost 5 hour flight???  Clearly…I was not thinking…ummmm cold medications…haaalloooo. I pulled out a copy of R’s newest obsession the Sleepy Kitten board book from Despicable Me and with that…a sense of calm came over Riley World. He had something to focus on and managed the 75 min flight home without a yelp, screech or grunt...that I was aware of. I was ummmm pretty much passed out for most of the flight.  

As we landed at our final destination 17+ hours later, R was all smiles and said in a most relieved voice “We're home. Are we home? It’s good to be home again.”  Yes Riley…it is good to be home. 

Did you know there is a TSA Cares Help Line for Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions?  There is. Be sure to check it out before you travel.

Monday, 23 February 2015

We went Cruising...

I have been meaning to update you on our latest adventure. Riley World went on a 7 day Caribbean cruise with my sister and her family and G’s brother and wife. That was 2 weeks ago.

Then I got sick. For a week. And I lost my prescription glasses on one of the flights home. So I couldn’t see. Now I feel like it may be too late. Or not?!?! So perhaps I will just give you the highlights. With photos of course. In semi-point form (after all some things do require a little explanation).   

We left at the crack of dawn (it may not look like the crack of dawn but we had to leave for the airport at 5am so work with me here) on a cold and rainy day. What better time to head south.

Three planes, two layovers and 12-1/2 hours later we made it to Fort Lauderdale unscathed. Riley was a real trooper. I was able to schedule 3 flights (all under 3 hrs) with 2 layovers between 2 and 2-1/2 hours (just enough time to get something to eat and stretch our legs). It worked out great!

Our home for seven nights.

R got all settled in and never wanted to leave. Ever. As in he would have preferred to stay in the stateroom if we let him.

 BONUS:  R got to sleep on the couch.

We did convince him to go to the pool/hot tub. Once. Maybe twice.

It was usually very busy around the pool so we opted to lounge around on the upper decks.

We visited 3 different ports. We were unable to dock at our last port due to sea swells.


Cayman Islands
We had to take a Tender to shore.


The Cousins, Riley and J2

The trip home was a little more ummmm eventful. I will leave that for another post along with the pros and cons of cruising with Riley World. Let's keep this post all happy, happy shall we?  :D

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Sensory Overload...
How Does He DO IT!!!

What is sensory overload? Wikipedia’s definition is as follows:
Sensory overload occurs when one or more of the body's senses experiences over-stimulation from the environment.

Sensory overload has been associated with a number of disorders including autism. When Riley was younger, sensory overload was constant. Understandably so. Everything is “new” when you are little. New experiences, new feelings, new surroundings, new people, new, new, new.

Often times I forget what it must be like for Riley. And then something happens to me (like the dentist yesterday) and I am reminded how challenging it must be in Riley World with everything constantly coming at you full speed ahead. 

To try and explain, my perception of sensory overload goes something like this…I decide to go to my high school reunion. Never mind what year. In anticipation I go out to buy a new outfit (black…ALL black with hopes that black will make my 10lb weight gain only look like 5). I’m a little nervous as I have not seen many of these people for “x” number of years. Nope. Still not telling. 

I Google the venue. A little pressed for time, I am sure I will remember the directions without having to write them down. Why are you laughing?? I happily get in my car. There’s not a cloud in the sky, I turn on some music and off I go. About 15 minutes into the trip I realize the venue is farther away than I thought and I start to worry that I will late. There’s an accident on the bridge so traffic comes to a standstill. Gah! I start to get a little more anxious.

Finally traffic starts to move but then I notice it starts to rain. Just enough to be annoying. Just enough to notice that my windshield wipers are smearing more than clearing. It starts to get dark. I notice that I am now late and I may be a little lost. GAH!!

I have no GPS so have to rely on my aging memory. I think I see the street but I can’t quite make out the sign. I can’t see that far…in the rain…in the dark and why the hell is the music so loud!!

As I drive through the intersection I realize that was my street. I try and find a place to turn around. I turn onto a side road. An unlit, gravel, side road. With potholes. The size of craters. I think I may have left my muffler 10 potholes back. Why the eff are there no damn street lights!!! 

And then…my gas light comes on. Seriously??  I tell myself I can fill up before I head home. I finally get back on track. Only I’m not. Apparently I need East Avenue instead of West friggin’ Avenue so not only am I late…I am on the opposite side of the city. Why don’t they make pants with elastic waists and I think I forgot to rip off the damn tag on my blouse and WATCH OUT YOU STUPID PEDESTRIAN!!!  OMFG!!!  DON’T YOU KNOW YOU SHOULDN’T WEAR ALL BLACK ON A DARK, RAINY NIGHT!!!!!  Oh. Right.

With that I decide to bail on the reunion and head home. I can only hope that I won’t run out of gas before I get there.

That, my friends, is my perception of sensory overload. That is how I can only imagine Riley feels the majority of time. How he DOES it is beyond me.  

As Riley has gotten older his coping abilities/strategies have improved ten fold.
As I have gotten older my coping abilities/strategies have…well…not.  

Ironic isn’t it.