Thursday, July 29, 2010

We Can't Control the Weather....

Our vacation continued with beautiful weather in Charlevoix.  We spent the next several days, going to the beach, taking boat rides, grilling amazingly fresh fish, and in the evenings heading downtown to listen to music in the open band shell in the park.  This is actually my favorite part of our weeks there.  It has the wonderful small town feel, it's relaxing and, well, sort of perfect. 
Daniel and I at the bandshell with Round Lake in the background

The boys anxiously await Thursday.  Thursday is THE day for them.  It is "arm band" day.  The carnival comes to town during this week of Venetian festival and Thursdays you can buy an arm band for $15 and ride as much as you want ALL DAY long.  It is highly anticipated, year in and year out.  The carnival starts setting up earlier in the week, of course, and there are regular "checks" on their progress.  Zachary and his cousins would ride down on their bikes and come back to report what rides where being put together.  "They have Crazy Dance again", they "don't have Gravitron! why not?!" It's ENDLESS.  As a parent I am not a fan of the carnival.  It usually means a hot day, in a small area, with way too many people amongst well, a carnival....I get it though.  I would have been the same way.  The positive is I don't have to RIDE (most of the time) and the kids can do it together. 

I have had several comments from those who have seen my pictures that they are surprised Daniel enjoys these rides.  I would be interested to know from other parents if their autistic children feel the same.  Daniel LOVES the spinning rides and roller coasters (as long as they don't go upside down).  As soon as they start something stimulates in his brain and he chats and laughs and talks the whole time.  It's the same as when he is swinging.  It's fascinating.

The day started ok.  It was a very cloudy day, not big white fluffy clouds, but grey fuller coverage.  This is ideal for ME in that it isn't so hot hanging at the dirty carnival all day, (especially since we had a very late adult night out the night before!) but for Daniel it means one thing THREAT OF RAIN.   He gets very agitated with this especially when there is something important (to him) going on.  His entire body is on high alert and concerned about the rain.  He talks about it and perseverates about it. all. day. long.  He asks "is it going to rain?" approximately 457,000 times.  Then usually answers himself with our standard parental answer, a whimsical sounding, "we can't control the weather......" .  This answer started coming from us years ago when he would be crying and screaming at us to "MAKE IT STOP RAINING!"  As exhausted, frustrated parents we would try to continue our good natured attitude with answers that invoke the feeling of "everythings ok", even when it clearly ISN'T.  We try to let him know things will happen again, and you can get another chance. It's a tough sell to someone on the spectrum. Although Daniel handled it very well the tubing day (see previous post).  That was raining all day, but you see, the difference is, he didn't know what he might be missing because he had never done it before.  In terms of the carnival, he looks forward to it ALL year.  He is still talking about "Arnold Amusements Inc" today.  (possibly the only child who takes that away from the day). 

We finally start walking down to the carnival with Daniel skipping ahead singing "Hi diddly dee, an actor's life for me".......Even if your child isn't obsessed with Pinocchio like mine, you might remember that song from the movie.  If so, you remember this is when Pinocchio is merrily headed off to school. . . right before disaster strikes.  ahhhh. foreshadowing.  I should have seen it.  But then "I can't control the weather" so what was I to do?  So I've given away where this is headed.  Cloud covered + high anticipation = disaster.  You got it. 

The four boys (Daniel, Zachary, and southern cousins Connor and Clayton) were enjoying the carnival.  They were riding The Tornado:

                                                                          Crazy Dance

and the classic Tilt a Whirl

And then I felt it.  A rain drop. Just one or two.  It was honestly barely spitting.  It wasn't enough to end anything.  The boys were back in line for The Tornado and the stress level was building. At least for Daniel and I.    I was trying to talk him down and it seemed to be working.  They got on the ride and one thing lead to another and Daniel was starting to freak out just as the ride was starting.  I was yelling for him to relax as he was screaming at the other 3 boys (for basically breathing wrong) and he was pounding on the ride.  I was giving my best even mom glare, imploring him to relax and enjoy the ride, begging him with my eyes to see that it was ok.  He was still riding.  Hoping he would magically see that the only thing ending his day was HIM.  But he was gone.  He'd gone over the edge.  I felt hopeless.  Daniel had slipped away and I couldn't get him back.  Every time he came around his eyes were locked on mine.  He knew it too.  He'd lost control, threatened those around him and he had that look in his eye.  I couldn't even hear the madness going on around me anymore, Daniel and I were locked together, which probably stopped him from hitting himself or whoever else was in reach. 

When they exited the ride, Zachary was scared (he thought he was going to get punched) and embarrassed (in front of his cousins and the rest of the carnival) and the damper on the day was much more than a few rain clouds.  I told Daniel he was leaving.  Which only escalates him, but he couldn't handle it anymore.  Todd pulled him away while Zachary sobbed in my arms.  I told Zachary and the cousins that they could stay and all I got was a sad, pathetic, "we are just going to go home now".  Which absolutely killed me.  Daniel's meltdown had taken them all so far down that they didn't even care anymore.  It broke my heart. into. a. million. pieces.  Suddenly I wanted to stay at the carnival and have them enjoy it more than anyone else.  But it wasn't meant to be. We all walked home.  This time with no singing, no excitement.  Just me fighting back my own tears for the disappointed kids.  Including Daniel.  Usually my posts are very upbeat and show the brighter side, but to have a bright side, usually there is a dark side looming about.  Thursday we had it. 


Nancy D said...

You and Todd are amazing!!....In every situation!

Michelle S. said...

Thanks Nancy! That means a lot. It really does. I was very sad for everyone on that day and a little pissed off too :)

Amy said...

Sigh..... and yet, it was entirely different on Wednesday and Daniel seemed okay with the storm alarm at the pool.

Michelle S. said...

Amy, well, that is only because we were finished. He was out of the pool and knowing he was going home. He felt stress, but yes, no meltdown. If we had just gotten there or been a short amount in, it would have been a whole different story. I was SO thankful it worked how it did. Someone was on my side that day!!

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

So sorry about the meltdown. I know how awful they are, for so many reasons.

P.S. In answer to your question about autistic kids and rides - Nigel absolutely loves roller coasters - anything that moves, he wants to be on it. He's got a hypo-vestibular sense, so he seeks out movement.