Road Trippin’

There were so many times when it could’ve gone bad.

Ten days on the road, hundreds of miles, five different hotels. A myriad of changes to routine.

I was braced for complications. My boy has had a rough time lately – stressed at school, agitated at home, anxiety placing him (and us) on a hair-trigger. We weren’t sure if our planned fall break road trip would relieve his stress or add to it. I was cautiously pessimistic. I knew we could have some problems if my kid’s current volatile mood didn’t lighten, especially being away from the safety of home. We wouldn’t know until we hit the road.

The first day, after a late start and a five hour drive, we got to our hotel after sundown. All day, we’d promised the kid – drive first, then swimming. As we checked in, we learned that the pool closed early. Crap.

But? OK. He settled for a dip in the hot tub and was fine. 

The next day, we went up the road to our first tourist attraction of the trip and he refused to go down the escalator at the entrance. There was no freak-out, no big scene. Just steadfast, patient refusal. We found an alternate way down, and he did fine.

Escalators? No. Water Slides? Oh, yes.

Escalators? No. But water slides? Oh, yes.

That night, his dumb mother set the scene for a sensory overload-induced meltdown, thinking he would enjoy the lights and shows on the Las Vegas Strip at night (forgetting that on a Friday the crowds would be heavy. Really, am I new here?). But, while his stress was apparent (and we won’t do that again), it didn’t overflow or become unmanageable. Especially once we found a place to stop for a cookie, he handled it fine.

IMG_1488On our long drives through the desert, and later through the mountains, the toy bin I always stash next to him was mostly ignored, as usual. He played with the window. Window down, hand out, flip once or twice in the breeze, window up. Pause for 5 minutes. Repeat. That raised our own stress some, but my kid did fine.

At the second hotel – again we’d promised swimming. But after a long day of driving – dinner first. Gobble food, back to the room, swimsuits on, cruise through the halls, goggles already on, we’ve got a cool hour before the pool closes. As we pass the windows overlooking the pool, it’s clear we’ll have it all to ourselves. Uh oh. Raindrops pucker the pool’s surface. By the time we get to the entrance door, it’s pouring. Despite my husband’s pleas of “We’ll get wet anyway!” we’re denied access. Sorry, sir, the pool is closed during inclement weather for your safety.

Our safety? I have little doubt that the thunder outside will be no match for what our fellow vacationers are about to witness. Forecast: meltdown.

But? Nothing. We turned around, promised swimming tomorrow, and went to grab some dessert instead. It was fine. Really fine.

After that, I knew that being on the road was some kind of magic. Through the entire trip — confronted by dogs that made him nervous, boat ramps that looked questionable, favorite DVDs that skipped, and food choices that were not quite right, my kid rolled with the changes. There were a few issues and tense moments, but anxiety and stress never won.

Now that we’re back to the real world, I’m watching to see if the magic carries over. Maybe pulling him out of his staid routines is the answer to coping with stress and anxiety. Maybe he, like us, just really needed a vacation.

Maybe we’ll have to embrace some kind of gypsy lifestyle.

Because apparently the road suits him. Just fine.

on the rock, Reno

Posted as part of October 2015 Sensory Blog HopSensory Blog Hop

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month’s Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!

Just Do It.

As we’re walking to the car following an after-school speech therapy session, my son abruptly turns right and rushes off toward his classroom door. My protest at this “unnecessary” detour goes unheeded. This boy is clearly on a mission. He opens the door of the classroom and the sounds of singing and guitar-strumming waft out—another student has an after-school music lesson—but my son continues inside, the door closing behind him. I get to the door and open it in time to see my kid place the beads he was twirling into the bin at the back of the room. Then, he turns and heads out of the room again just as quickly. I hadn’t even noticed he was carrying beads, but now his unexpected change-of-course makes complete sense.

I apologize to the music tutor for the interruption and we exit the room, back on track toward the car, but without the beads that belong only at school. There’s another strand of beads waiting in the car, his beads for “home.” These commute to school with us, but stay in the car; if he needs something to spin at school, there’s that bin of fidgets—but these items do not cross the school boundary. Worlds would collide. Read the full post »

He Can’t.

Some days, I see this:

  • He can’t make himself a snack. I have to prepare and supervise every meal.
  • He can’t stomach new foods. I have to cook the same limited menu.
  • He can’t use a knife. I have to cut up his food before he eats.
  • He can’t hang out with friends on his own. I have to hover and facilitate.
  • He can’t shave his face, brush his teeth, or wash his hair independently. I have to take over those tasks.
  • He can’t match his clothes. I have to lay them out for him.
  • He can’t organize his time. I have to micro-manage every step to get him ready for his day.

But, this is also true: Read the full post »

The Crowd-iest Place on Earth

Do you want to test your tolerance for being inadvertently touched, jostled, and crowded by random strangers?

Go to Disneyland in mid-July.

On the “aversion-to-touch” scale, my kid is in the middle. He’ll allow himself to be touched, many times even requests it—a tickle, a squeeze, a wrestle—but it’s got to be on his terms. He has to know it’s coming.

But when you’re winding your way through a massive sea of people—many carrying oversize backpacks and multiple bags bulging with unwieldy souvenirs; others pushing strollers while wrangling toddlers who insist on managing their own larger-than-toddler balloons or stuffed Pixar characters; not to mention the few patrons walking in zig-zag obliviousness while gnawing on large turkey legs or cotton candy—it’s just impossible to keep from being touched.

Monsters Inc 2319“There’s nothing more toxic, more deadly than a human child. A single touch could kill you!” – Mr. Waternoose, Monsters Inc.

There is no “fast pass” around the summer swarms at Disney theme parks. As a family, we are not early risers—at least not the talk-to-others-in-public-and-ride-roller-coasters type of early risers—so getting into the parks before the biggest crowds was not a realistic goal. We went in the afternoons and evenings. Along with half the universe. Read the full post »


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