Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vacation adventures continued...

The next leg of our vacation brought us into Massachusetts. My mother was born there. She died 16 years ago, but she has two siblings who raised their families in Mass, so I have many many cousins, as well as aunts and uncles still in that area. A family reunion was the actual starting point to this whole vacation. I used that as a point to work out from to find interesting things for the kids to do.

I prepared Daniel for the reunion by printing out pictures of as many people as I could with their names by them. I knew it was going to be a lot of new people, all who want to please him and be friendly and he wouldn't know what to make of most of it. The reunion was to be held at my cousin Jimmy and his wife's Debbie house. Because his brother and wife live right behind them, we refer to it as "the compound" since so many people live in a block area. The good thing for us is that they have a pool. If there is one thing to relax Daniel it is floating in a pool, so all we really needed was good weather. We started out the festivities Friday night going to my cousins. This was after an 8 hour drive, mind you. We were all exhausted. But we checked into our rooms, I unpacked and organized everything since we'd be there for 4 nights. My borderline obsessiveness kicks into high gear when I'm in a hotel room. I need to know where everything is. Four nights allows me to unpack and organize it all. We had a one bedroom suite allowing us some separation if needed, and I knew Daniel would need it! We went right over to Nancy and Billy's, the other family on the compound. Including the 8 of us who made the drive together, there were probably 18 - 20 people there. In my rush to their house I didn't bring anything for Daniel to "do". Often, I bring his Nintendo DS or something else to keep him amused. He seemed about "done" anyway, so we knew it would be a short visit.

He did amazingly well and spent most of his time perched on a stool in the center of the kitchen telling his "stories" to whomever would listen. This consists of repeating videos. The majority of these relatives haven't been around Daniel since he was four years old, so I don't know if they really knew what to expect. Some read this blog occasionally and some contacted me ahead of time to find out what would help him be the most comfortable. What a lucky girl I am to have these people as my relatives! Nancy had FILLED here refrigerator and pantry with the things that would make her an instant hit for both of my boys. It worked :) Nancy was the woman with chocolate chip ice cream and regular cones. A sure way into Daniel's heart. She also had Italian ice for my allergy ridden Zachary. That is such a kind gesture isn't it?
The next day the weather gods provided again and it was sunny and beautiful!! The pool was open and the kids took full advantage! People were beyond kind with Daniel trying to engage him. Sometimes it even worked! We were at their house from about 12:00 noon to maybe 10:00 at night. We had brought a portable DVD player so there was a considerable amount of time that he escaped to the house to watch movies. I have to admit, it gave us the chance to have fun too, but that is a long time. He needed the escape. I don't think I can expect him to say engaged that whole time. I like to aim high but give him some back up in these situations. In this case it was his DVD's.

In this leg of vacation we also went to Boston for a day. We took the commuter train into town. This on it's own was a big deal. Daniel LOVES trains. Shocking? Not really! Here are Todd and Daniel waiting for the train.
The picture below is by the Old North Church on the Freedom Trail. It was HOT this day in Boston. The most interesting part of the day from an AUTISM standpoint....

Right after this we went to lunch. In a restaurant. Not any restaurant but a SPORTS Memorabilia restaurant, filled with TV's. Not one or two, but A LOT of tv's. He was stressed at first. We assured him the evil Belle Tire would not be present. I have talked about Belle Tire here, here, and here. After 2 or 3 minutes of sitting there with his hands over his ears stressing we convinced his that in Massachusetts there are no Belle Tire commercials. I had written this in his social story too. ( I didn't even say the Belle Tire "name" as that is too much stress.) This was a HUGE success. He actually sat in a restaurant surrounded by tv's. I know we have much work to do to get that to happen around here, but it has to be a huge first step right?

The next leg of our journey was to Cape Cod. We stayed here for two nights. We had an indoor and an outdoor pool at our hotel, we were in the middle of it all. The best Daniel story was when we went to the ocean. He ALWAYS bends down and picks up rock and throws them into the water. He was out in the water and had been the whole time we were there. Todd was out there with him most of the time, (apparently the water was crazy warm? I wouldn't know) but Todd had just gotten out. Daniel leaned over to pick up his next "rock". He looked at it as it was in his hand and he screamed "AHHHH A CRAB" and threw it through the air! Yup he had picked a crab up right off the bottom of the ocean. I think they were BOTH surprised. He likes to tell people that story now and I think it will be a good one for him to share with his peers! He did not get pinched, but he likes to say "the crab asked me why I was picking him up?" What if he really did? :)

This second picture was after he threw the poor crab and decided may be he'd stay closer to the beach.... This is me, trying to get in a picture, because I always have the camera. I took it of myself. Good thing I have really really long arms!

Our trek home was now all the way from Cape Cod to East Lansing. It's a haul. After fueling up with a huge breakfast we left the Cape about 9:30 am. Our intention was to stop somewhere on the way but we drove STRAIGHT THROUGH. We were home about 11:30 pm. Unbelievable. I would have never thought we could do that. The boy did an amazing job! We are so lucky. I think the adventure turned out to be a fantastic experience for everyone. Now Todd is wondering when we'll be driving to Florida? Um, what?

1 comment:

Beck said...

So glad to have been able to share the trip with you guys. I agree, Daniel did awesome! What great family fun!