Saturday, August 31, 2013

Endurance Test (Life with #Autism)

So Lori and Rachel left for errands and it was just me and Ben at the breakfast table. I thought about the day... if we stayed around here, I'd play with him and I'd also do a lot of chores. I thought "Why?" and realized that if I went somewhere with Ben I'd be focused on Ben.

But where? Wanted to see if I could still do some other stuff while spending my time on Ben. I looked to see if there were any stores around here that sold Autism-training related supplies. I thought I had heard of one, but I didn't find any.

So the old fall-back. Went to the mall. We went in, I used the bathroom. Without going into detail, that involved holding his hand in such a way that kept him away from me at arm's length.

Then a diaper change and then down to the play area. He played for a good long time. Had lots of fun. Was careful around other child, no pushing or catching. A few times he ran around with a balloon he found but never bit it. One time after he dropped it another boy brought it up and handed it back to him. When he wanted drinks of water, he'd go sit on the seating along the wall.  Later a little tiny baby had the balloon and he never tried to take it away from her.  He tried to pull off his shorts a few times and one time succeeded and I had to chase him down and pull them up or put them on, but he was good natured about it.

Then another trip to the bathroom and then over to McDonalds. Walking with Ben was pretty easy today - I had him take his stuffed monkey and his plastic policeman. They kept his other hand full (monkey tucked under his arm) so that he couldn't grab for stuff and I think it also gave him something to think about because he never tried to pull away and run somewhere else.  We walked slowly whenever we walked but that suited me fine.  He rarely dropped the toys, the policeman more than the monky, but sometimes I think he liked the sound it made as it bounced.

When I would ask "Burger or Chicken?" he wanted chicken. But if I asked "Chicken or Burger?" he wanted burger. So I got a Happy Meal with a cheeseburger and a 10-piece McNuggets. I ate most of the burger, he ate all the fries, he shared the apples with me and we both ate McNuggets. We ended up getting another order of fries and a 4-piece McNugget.  He sat for most of the meal. I would have to ask him to sit but he'd sit. I was able to leave him at the table to get napkins and water refills and he never left the table. That was pretty awesome.

After that we went shopping. We went to two stores. In the first store, he did run off once. I had my duffel back full of his supplies and soon I had an employee in a blue apron who was either trying to be obvious or not very good at being subtle. Of course, there was a lot of glass in that store, so running wasn't a good thing.  I did discover that he was perfectly willing to sit on the floor for drinks, so that helped. At the register, he sat on a chair while I checked out. I was almost done when he jumped down and started to run off.  I took two quick steps, grabbed the collar of his shirt and slowly added pressure so that his run was arrested but he wasn't choked. Some other customers noted how impressed they were.

Then we took a long walk to the next store. There he sat in a chair at the end of an aisle while I browsed. I thought at one point he was going to run away when he hopped out of a chair, but he climbed right up into the chair next to it. (Stores with chairs are aweosme.)

It was pretty hot after that for the walk back to the car which was also hot. I think at that point we probably should have just gone home. We went back to the mall and took a long time to find a space. Then we walked back to the bathrooms and then to the play area. There was a little aggression towards me on the walk. At one point he was on my right and headbutting my hand (but not letting go) and then trying to bite me. I saw a table and chair coming up on my left so I swung him around in front of me and he hopped right into it. The teenagers behind us thought that was kinda funny/cool with laughter and a "woah" at the move. (That's right, it's a good day when I can impress teenagers.) He sat there for awhile playing with his policeman and then we were off again, back to the play area.

This time there were a lot more kids. He ran around a lot and then the shorts were off and I had to grab them and try to get to him without knocking over any little kids. By the time I got to him the diaper was most of the way off as well. And he was mad. Got everything put back on but he was pretty much done. He stood there with his hands over his ears watching for awhile and then he came over to me and kind of pushed me to the area where you take off or put on shoes and then sat down. So I put his shoes on and we left.

There was some passive resistance laying down and I ended up carrying him. I hummed Rainbow Connection to him and he was humming too and that was mostly good. At the escalator I had to set him down so he got on and then just sat down and rode it down. It was much worse at the bottom and somewhere I ended up getting scratched really bad twice. I can't see one of them behind my ear but I found some dried blood. The other is on my face and I used a wipe and checked in a mirror as we passed through the jewelry or makeup section of a department store and it was pretty bad and bled most of the way home.

Got home, sat him on the potty, he went, and then he had a nice bath and had a pretty decent rest of the evening (it was a little frenetic and chaotic for all of us combined but he wasn't necessarily misbehaving) and then an early bedtime.

All in all, I guess it was like a 5-hour endurance test for him. He did really well. I was really impressed with how he reacted at the end to all the noise, first covering his ears and observing and then indicating to me that he was done. And he never was mean to another child the entire day which was awesome.
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