My Family

"Life will knock you down. You can choose to stand up again."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Autism in Our Home - Part 3 - Travel

I love this picture of Colton and Uncle Skipper! It was taken a year and a half ago. I love it because it shows happiness and love. No questions asked. As you might imagine, traveling with kids is tough. Traveling with an autistic kid is extra tough. Traveling with an autistic kiddo who has a mother who is the worst traveler EVER is a complete nightmare. Josh is super-human. Seriously. The key to this trip was to be prepared, organized, and flexible. Every plane ride had me either sitting with Josh or my dad. Whomever I was not sitting with, Colton WAS sitting with. Colton was prepared with this DVD player, headphones, and DVDs of his choice. He was also prepared with chapstick and gum. We also tried to explain to him that the lines would be long and that we would have to do silly things, like take off our shoes, etc. He did GREAT through all of this. Customs was seamless. He did great. It wasn't that he didn't have questions, or concerns, but we were prepared for them. The whole family was. He did get restless, but we were able to calm him quickly. The only issue came on our flight home, from Florida to Atlanta. We were in the line for security. There was a woman in front of him. Kaydon was behind Colton and I was behind Kaydon. The woman was inpatient and grumpy. It took her FOUR buckets to put all of her stuff in to go through security. Colton patiently waited, but after two buckets, thought she was done and got his bucket. She VERY rudely said, "You need to wait little boy." He looked at me and broke. I very seriously leaned forward and said, "That little boy has autism and is being as patient as anyone should be expected to be. Got it?" He then repeated a few times, "She was mean to me Mom." Nothing else came out of her mouth. I explained to him as quickly as I could that she WAS rude, but that it was over and perhaps she was having a hard morning, also. I also told him that he did a great job. Travel is something that we do in our family. We drive to wrestling tournaments. We used to travel to football games for Josh. We have driven to California, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, etc. All of our kids are good travelers. For us, it is about being prepared physically and mentally. It is also about preparing Colton. Colton needs concrete information. That is not always possible. So sometimes, we prepare him with the fact that we aren't going to have it. We make sure he has his DVD player and his DVDs. We make sure he has his headphones. He also will have a book now and then, and sometimes a stuffed animal that is small and can be comforting to him. Gum is a must for him, as is chapstick. Those things make him feel better to have. We don't give him him things that are exuberant, or that would spoil him. However, we give him things that help him, and thus help everyone! We also prepare the other kiddos with the fact that they need to be patient. This was a great trip for him. I was SO pleased with him! He held the alligator without a problem! He ordered his food with respect and kindness and gratitude. An older gentleman stopped us in the buffet seating area one morning and said, "Your son is really something. He introduced himself and everyone he knew to me in the pool yesterday." Josh and I immediately apologized. The man said, "No, no. Please don't. Kids don't do that anymore. He wanted to get to know me and he wanted me to know who he knew. What a gentleman of a kid you have!" I was reminded that it really is all in perspective. So many people would have thought Colton was odd or annoying or needed to go away. This man praised him and thanked him for being his buddy that day. Autism is a beautiful thing. We just need to see it that way!

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