Journey of a Mom of two amazing children on the spectrum
Monday, 13 May 2013
Trial By Field Trip
I took the day off today (one of my FEW remaining vacation days) to go on Jack's field trip to a place called Camp Woodlands. First of all, I should explain that for every field trip I am "cordially invited" by the staff of Jack's school. And I get it. It would really be a lot to ask of a parent volunteer to have a group of kids that included Jack- he needs so much supervision, and chasing, and...yeah, he needs a lot.
I won't lie and say I was looking forward to this day. I was looking forward to time with Jack, and I was looking forward to the neat activities, but any time Jack is in a new environment, especially one with lots of environmental stimuli and structured activities, it is extremely challenging to keep him engaged, and to make him understand how to behave. We don't have the luxury of me "giving him a look" and expecting him to understand to stop a behavior or be quiet. He just doesn't register that type of change in facial expression.
With all of this in mind, I will say that there were some victories in today's field trip. Jack loved many of the activities, which ranged from catching fish in a net, to a ride in a row boat (Jack went by himself with two other students and a parent, and even led them in a rousing chorus of row, row, row your boat), to digging for bugs with Mr. Kevin, songs in front of a camp fire, and learning about trees. He cooperated for at least the first few activities. He was really ready to be done after lunch and had a mini meltdown at the first activity after lunch, with a burst of inappropriate behaviors, shouting and trying to run away. I took him for a walk, even took him behind some trees and spun him around some (which is calming), picked him up and swung him. Did not help much. He had similar issues at the first part of the tree activity, where the kids were supposed to collect different tree "seeds"- pinecones, acorns, etc in buckets and see how many they could find. The kids picked them up, Jack took them out of their buckets and threw them back. There was a trailer in the area and all he wanted to do was climb on it.
OK, so here's the thing. Much of this is about me. Yes, everyone and their brother noticed that Jack's behaviors are difficult, believe me, he stood out today. What do I expect? He is on the spectrum, he has ADHD (which is becoming a more and more clear issue each day). He is going to have a very difficult time with things like this. There is a reason why he has a full time aid in school, and that is a familiar environment. I know all of this on an intellectual level. But I am embarrassed. Really really embarrassed. Most of these parents don't know what is going on with Jack- I feel like they just think he is being naughty. That his mom is right there and just can't calm him or make him behave. You have to really watch him- he CAN'T HELP IT. Even when he is really trying to listen, he just can't do it. Even though I get all of this, it is frustrating, and for someone like me, who has been quite the rule follower her whole life, it is intolerable to me to see people looking at my kid in a disapproving way. Some parents are better than others, some people are more tolerant than others. It was a long day to endure with Jack- one that tried every ounce of patience that I have, and one that made me want to stand on a stump several times and scream "he's not naughty people, he is sensory overloaded!!!!"." I mean, come on, he climbed on the forbidden trailer at one point and informed me that he was activating his "sensory integrator".
This is the darned blue crab that he saw at the first activity- he could think of little else all day and tried to run away to see the crab on multiple occasions....
Digging for bugs....
Here are the positive things I take from today. I was paired with another nurse mommy- we talked shop a bit, she was interested in my job and working from home. She was empathetic and picked up slack with the other kids when I was chasing Jack. Several of the parent "teachers" were just as understanding, although I could tell that wasn't the case for all of them. And the other kids- Jack is well loved among many of his peers, and as always, especially the girls. All of these little mothers just crack me up. But it's not just the girls, there are some great little boys too. That really touches me. Kids wanted him to sit with them, on the bus, at lunch, etc.
Jack and his buddy on the ride home....
So we both survived. And we both learned some things. I guess that would make the day a success. However, now, I am ready to go sleep- for a long long time.