Each July we try to think of what we can do as a family to enjoy the holiday. We don’t get invited to picnics usually or other large gatherings and that’s probably for the best. The past few years we have attended a local town celebration that offers affordable food, trinkets, entertainment and finally fireworks. This year was blasting hot outside. It’s been one of our hottest summers in years. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go because deep down inside I dreaded what episode or meltdown might be waiting around the next corner of unpredictability. And I know that I am the one who will have to diffuse it. I will have to find some way to comfort and help my distressed boy without drawing too much attention to us.
Since I had turned over a new leaf a few months ago and vowed we’d live and enjoy life regardless of his autism I convinced myself we would go to the celebration. I packed snacks, natural bug repellant,a blanket, chairs, sun shade, water…whatever things I thought we’d need.
We arrived and my son enjoyed walking around and getting a snow cone, or “snow balls” as he used to call them when he was small. He ate some of the snacks and watched the entertainment. Until…..
I had not realize that this year they were doing something different and had a band coming in to play music for an hour and a half, instead of the normal fanfare typical American music and anthems that they usually have. As soon as they began to play I knew we had a problem. They were 50 times louder than the previous orchestra. Even I was like “wow, that’s loud!”. I didn’t mention it hoping he would be alright, but I knew he probably wouldn’t. It took mere seconds for him to curl up in his lawn chair and cover his ears. Then his face donned that painful expression he gets when the sound hurts and he’s about to cry. “Oh no, not again” I thought.
My mind was racing trying to think how we could get him through this hour and a half. He wanted to leave and didn’t care about fireworks anymore. He hid under his umbrella trying to block out the noise. It was futile.
I ended up taking him for a walk around the back field for a long time until I just couldn’t walk around in the heat anymore. I suggested moving our chairs farther away but his father wasn’t too pleased or ready to oblige. He always things the kid will just get used to it. My son covered his ears still and was starting to cry. Frankly, by now it was too damn loud for me. We ended up going to the parking lot to sit in the truck in the 90 degree heat. I looked around trying to find his head phones. But all we had were the one’s he listens to music with, not his sound blocking head phones. I knew I had forgot something.
My son was calm once in the truck. It was so hot though. We didn’t last long in there. We finally had to move our chairs to the other side of the park. His father was aggravated that we had to move, but it was that or go home.
All was not lost on the 4th of July. Once my son moved away from the noise he laid on a blanket with me in the grass playing with his glow sword and glow necklace until it was time for the fireworks. He pointed out the constellations to me. “See mom, there’s the Big Dipper and there’s….”. I found joy in him telling me which stars were where and it reminded me how smart he is. How he can see the constellation patterns in the sky and all I see are tiny lights. When the fireworks began, I marveled at my strong boy as he jumped and hopped in delight at the amazing light show.
All in all, another 4th of July, the sixth one since we began biomed. It seems so long ago since we took my son to the same celebration in his stroller and he was afraid of the fireworks. Tonight, he loved them. I am grateful for how far he has come.
Image Copyright 2012 The Edge of Autism