Sunday, August 27, 2006

Vacation pt. 4...

Wednesday started early for C & B. C was awakened around 2:30 am by B calling for him because not only had he kicked off his sleeping bag, but it had fallen off the top bunk & onto the floor. B finally fell back to sleep, but C had trouble doing the same & didn’t drift off for another hour. I missed the drama, but heard B get up around 7:00 (late for him) & pop a disc into the laptop. B was really good all week about using the headphones & not making a lot of noise as he either played the HP computer game or games on the HP movie discs, letting us sleep in a bit. The first night at the cabin C had given B his watch & I leant him a flashlight so that he would know when it was 6:00 am, which was when we allowed him to get up & play on the computer. Before then he could read a book with his flashlight. He slept past 6:45 most mornings, which didn’t suprise me at all with all of the outdoor activity.

We started the morning, after cereal & doughnuts at the cabin, at the club’s waterfront. B wanted to sail his little boat off the point (down from the beach), although I did convice him to put his bathing suit on in case he wanted to go to the beach as well. C went with him to the point, but somehow B slipped into the lake & landed on some nasty rocks. He was soaked & his right knee & shin were lacerated & bleeding. B was frightened from the suddenness of his fall, too. I mopped up the blood with a kleenex & decided that we should go back to the cabin to wash it & apply healing salve & maybe bandages. My in-laws were getting ready to go out for a sail, so we 3 headed back to the cabin. The wounds were more scrapes than lacerations, with a lot of nasty, red scratches, so I cleaned them well & just put salve on the whole area. I gave B some tylenol for the pain, got him into dry clothes (he had to borrow a t-short from dad because he had been soaked so many times this trip he’d gone through all of his extras) & suggested we watch his new pokemon movie together. C’s parents were going to meet us at the cabin at some point (before lunch) because the afternoon’s plan was a bit different than usual. Our financial planner is in Pittsburgh, part of a company that my father-in-law had worked for as office manager (his retirement job) before he finally retired completely. Since the lake is just an hour or so from Pittsburgh, we’d had our planner meet us here when we were up 2 years ago & thought it worked pretty well for our annual meeting (we meet by phone in the alternate years, when we don’t come to the lake). This year my father-in-law thought it would be fun to invite our planner’s wife & 2 little boys along, to play on the beach & maybe go for a sail, & we thought it was a fine idea too. Co-ordinating our meeting place & then getting to lunch at a reasonable time took some planning, but we pulled it off & found ourselves at a nice lunch place (that my mother-in-law & I had scoped-out the previous Saturday before the rain hit) at about 12:35. B was a bit nervous with a new environment & the little kids around, but he kept it together & even helped me make origami birds to entertain them. He decided to order a salad with garbanzo beans & sunflower seeds on top (hold the onions, feta cheese, & dressing :) & seemed to really enjoy it. C & I made a note to ourselves to remember garbanzo beans when looking for alternative protein sources for our new veggie-boy. He was done eating before everyone else, though, & really wanted to go, but did hang in there until everyone was ready to leave. I knew that having the little boys around might be difficult for B so I had packed a secret weapon :) I had purchased some HP Prisoner Of Azkaban legos a couple years ago for B to earn, but he had lost interest before earning all of them (the bionicles must have been cooler then :), so I had a couple left over. I had brought the “Lupins’ Classroom” set just in case we needed a distraction. B couldn’t believe that he didn’t have to earn the set & was delighted to get it. We set him up in the clubhouse on a table near the one where we were meeting with our financial planner. If there hadn’t been so many flies in the room B would have been in heaven, but he was very annoyed by them (they weren’t fun, but we grownups coped). When he was done with the lego I suggested he go to the beach & see what was happening. He didn’t come back for quite a while & later he informed me he had been helping by teaching the boys (ages 2 & 4) how to build a sand castle. He came in for a snack & we sent him out with a box of freezie-pops for everyone. Eventually, though, he had had it & wanted to leave. We were done with our business, luckily, & so I took B back to the cabin. As we walked to the car he let loose with some major tics that he’d been holding in (one of the boys had a Sponge Bob water toy & B detests SB so much it makes him tic). I told him I was so proud of him for helping with the kids & showing them how nice big kids can be. He reminded me that not all big kids are nice, but I told him that he’d done a good job of keeping himself together in spite of being triggered & had been very kind to them. We came back to the cabin, had tea & a snack, & watched the rest of our pokemon movie. Then B went outside & played with his whittled stick. When C came back (our planner & family dropped him off at the cabin) he & B built the evening’s fire & we got ready for another dinner with grandparents. C & I had decided, based on B’s reaction to the idea of going out to yet another restaurant (negative) that we would forego the usual final day’s breakfast out with grandparents & invite them over to say goodbye after we had eaten & packed in the morning (tomorrow). After his parents arrived, C explained that we had so much food left over we had decided not to go out. He left B completely out of the explanation, which I think was a good idea. I had gotten the feeling that they were feeling hemmed-in by B’s needs & we didn’t need to give them any more bad news at his expense. They were surprised & decided that they’d say goodbye this evening & not come over in the morning. I was somewhat takend aback by this, but since everybody was behaving themselves I decided to just let it be. The fire, which B lit, was the best yet & after we ate the last of the marshmallows & s’mores we torched the sticks as well. B fell asleep very quickly (I’ve been reading him Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonsong” at bedtime) with very few comments on the story. C & I chatted a bit then, sorting through the day’s events, trying to find patterns to what made B melt down & what allowed him to cope.

We’d been given a copy of Dawn Prince-Hughes book “Songs of the Gorilla Nation- My Journey Through Autism” & had both started reading it while on vacation. Her story has led me to re-assess my attitude & approach to B’s OCD & I wanted to talk to C about what I was thinking. Since B began having serious OCD symptoms, just around his eighth birthday, we have been operating under the impression that B’s OCD is a separate, & more pathological, entity from the AS, but Prince-Hughes’ description of her childhood experiences make me wonder if that’s just plain wrong. She seems to have developed OCD-type symptoms to cope with the anxiety associated with having (undiagnosed) AS. We have noticed over the past couple of years that B’s sensitivity to smells has become more & more intense, & this makes me wonder if the OCD is also another AS-type behaviour that has had same sort of intensification as the odour sensitivity. C said that he had been thinking along the same lines, after reading the book. We decided that maybe we should speak of the OCD as something that B will have better control of as he gets older, rather than something he’ll get rid of. It makes me think of a recent conversation B & I had, about finding good in things. He challenged me to find good in the OCD, & I reminded him that, during a meltdown a few weeks ago, we had left him alone at his request, but that I had returned to him when I had heard him ticcing, to find him over the intense feelings & complaining of a “thought”. I asked him if the thought had distracted him from the meltdown feelings & he said that it had. So I told B that I never would have thought that OCD would come in handy, but that it had done a good job of getting through & dissipating the the meltdown feelings, & he agreed that that was true. I’ll comment more on Prince-Hughes book as I continue reading it.

Tomorrow we’ll pack it up & go home. B says emphatically that he’s ready :) I am ready to be in my own, comfortable bed & in charge of my own life & daily schedule (as much as I ever am :). Having to accomodate so many needs has been really tough, but has made me realise that we’re doing pretty well when we are in charge of what we do, & what & when we eat. B enjoyed learning to whittle &to light fires, talking to kids he doesn’t know, making boats with granddad, sailing, & playing on the beach. These are things we just can’t do from home, so with the unsettledness of being away has come new experiences & accomplishments. I’m going to try to remember this when we go to Japan next year! But mostly, I’m glad to get a new perspective on our life as a family, & I’m glad to be going home!!


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