Bare with me, my computer has died on this adventure and I’m attempting to write this from my phone, in the dark by the campfire, while sipping a beer….
The next step in our adventure was a trip into Boston to visit the aquarium and possibly a whale watch. There was no way we were going to maneuver an RV through the streets of Boston, so we drove to a T station that had a large outdoor lot for the RV.
Obvious Tip #2: Pack noise canceling headphones.
Brian loves traveling: train, bus, car, RV (not so much planes). But the headphones make it even more enjoyable for him. Headphones have also become a comfort item for Brian. Sometimes he’ll ask for them in situations that are new or scary but not necessarily loud, and that’s okay by me.
One thing I noticed on this trip was that Brian’s anxiety and fears just seem to becoming more numerous and more pronounced the older he gets. I’ve watched the opposite happen with my older son, his fears have slowly been slipping away the more he grows and is exposed to new things.
Brian loved the penguins, as I knew he would. But he was quite cautious with the other tanks. Often not going near and yelling at us for merely suggesting it. He was in such a place of dysregulation that he couldn’t hear us and he only had tunnel vision. We quickly realized we were scratching the whale watch (and time constraints were also working against us).
Tip #3: I know tip #1 was to have somewhat of a visual schedule for the person of autism. But be flexible. Remember, nothing will go as planned.
We did manage to lure him into an iMax showing about great white sharks. Corbin really wanted to see it, and though I knew it would scare Brian we decided to attempt it. Key to success: those headphones, refusal to wear the 3D glasses (not so scary), and a huge bag of popcorn.
There is a great exhibit at the aquarium that wasn’t there the last time I went (over 6 years ago)- a petting tank full of rays and sharks. Colin, Corbin, and myself loved that exhibit. Brian was cool with Corbin and Colin putting their hands in the tank but each time I attempted he would pull my arm out and say in a terrified voice, “No Mom, no! “. I’m obviously his favorite.
The most driving done thus far occurred on day three.
Most people back home asked if I was crazy when I told them my husband and I were going on a week long RV trip with two children. Now, I’m not speaking for all people with autism, but for our brand of autism, this is the way to travel. It’s a home on wheels. It’s comfortable. No matter where you end up in the country you always come back to the same home at the end of the day. You can decompress in it, it always has your favorite snacks, and it has your own private toilet. What more could you ask for? Brian always has a smile on his face when he’s in the RV.
One place that did not have him smiling was our stop in New Jersey. We decided to visit an animatronic dinosaur park, Field Station: Dinosaurs.
He couldn’t wait to go in. Skipping, smiling, and repeating, “Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs!”.
Until we got to the guest dinosaur where he started repeating, “Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”
We told him they weren’t real. We told him they were giant toys. We touched them. Colin even stuck his hand inside one of their mouths. Nothing we said or did could help him with the fear.
Regardless, Corbin managed to see all the dinosaurs and had an amazing time. If you are in New Jersey I highly recommend checking it out!
Oh, and guess what our #1 tool was for Brian’s anxiety? Yup, you guessed it. Noise-canceling headphones. Make sure those are on your packing list for your next adventure!
Check out The A-Word’s Facebook page for pictures (because I’m struggling adding pictures via my phone! ).