We have started to consider booking up activities for the summer holidays and have started to research what will be best for our family.
I can remember stroking my baby bump when pregnant with my eldest thinking of all the fun we were going to have, beach trips, taking her to the local theme park and going to the zoo.
Our little spontaneous trips shopping and laughing all day long, not one care in the world.
When my daughter was born, in fact even when my son was born, I could take them to a coffee house and sit with my friends and have a catch up for a couple of hours before heading to the park and letting my daughter run and loose some of her pent up energy.
I noticed that he couldn’t handle busy areas, so on a Saturday I couldn’t go to the local soft play area, that on a nice summer’s day a trip to the park was out of the question.
I noticed that although I saw my friends and their children it did become less and less.
We now don’t have to just think about finding somewhere which accommodates my sons autism and letting him be calm and enjoy the experience, we have to make sure at the same time it is relevant and fun for my other 2 children, all while making sure it is pushchair friendly for our baby girl.
We now go to all the outdoor activities when the weather isn’t that great knowing that people would rather stay home, then we do the indoor activities when the sun is out so that most people will be outside enjoying the sun.
This happens while having to pre-plan everything a few weeks in advance so that we can give our son enough time to realise what we are doing.
To even get to the point of putting an activity onto our calendar we have already done a lot of research work.
We research how long it takes to get to an activity, how the queues work to get into place, whether if you prebook you get to go in a fast queue or whether you have to join the normal crowded queue to pick up your tickets.
We research whether there are areas where we can go to quietly calm our son down, do they have a sensory area, a random patch of quiet grass.
We research the maps of new places so that we can figure out the best way to go around to include everything, while also memorising it so that our son doesn’t freak out as we stand staring at a map figuring out where everything is.
We also make sure both myself and my husband are free to do the days out.
That we physically need both of us so that if my son finds anything too much, one can soothe and calm him, while the other takes our other children away from the situation.
We even research how many roundabouts there will be on the journey as our son can’t handle more than 10 a journey as this makes him feel so uncomfortable.
As my daughter gets bigger and starts to transition from her pushchair to a wheelchair/walking aids this research will expand to what disabled facilities are there, are there changing tables in the disabled toilets, how many disabled toilets are there.
I said to my friend all the research we do to make sure our day goes smoothly, and she asked why I don’t look at the company website as they generally have a section in relation to disabilities or contacting the companies to ask my questions.
I did try this a few times, but I found most companies will just point you back at their website, that their website's disability page just says they have disabled toilets.
As it is not visible they do not understand the stress and anxiety of everyday tasks, they do not understand the preparation you take for a simple trip to the park.
One day on the disability page there will be information about sensory and quiet areas, but for now I will research and research and research each day trip.
For now I have realised that my son finds animals calming so we focus on mainly animal centred day trips but one day we hope to expand this but we will take it at his pace.
It just means our trips will be very organised and we will never be able to take a spontaneous trip somewhere.
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