I made a choice today. I decided to take Chandler to Monster trucks. I brought my nephew Noah along for support (for me and Chandler). Chandler is fond of Noah, and they are close to the same age. We gathered all of our necessities (gummi worms, ipad, headphones..) and we got there plenty early. We had great seats, and throughout all the preliminaries, Chandler was amazing. National anthem, check. Announcements, check. He was clapping, and excited, and he was looking and exclaiming "trucks!", but when the trucks began to make rounds, he decided it was safer in my lap. Soon the headphones came off and ears were plugged...uh oh...My nephew, Noah, was oblivious to the impending meltdown. He was explaining to me what the equator means because he was holding the ipad while I struggled with the cord to my headphones. I plugged the headphones into my phone, and blasted Chandler's favorite song Some Nights by Fun. His heart rate slowed. When the engines revved at their highest, his heart beat almost out of his chest. I could tell he was trying, really trying. It wasn't JUST the noise...Why I didn't consider the vibration I won't know, but that's what did it. Tears began to form and fall, and I took him out to buy a soda. My autism mom freak out moment hadn't happened, but it was about to.....Holding his Mountain Dew, he wouldn't go back in. I stood there holding his hand, and he was calm-ish, but I couldn't take a step toward the arena. He just froze. We sat on the floor....what now? A Fargodome staff approached me and she was so kind. She offered to sit with Chandler so I could go gather my nephew and our plethora of belongings. Thanking her profusely, I did a dead sprint to row Q. Noah didn't mind at all, in fact, when we reached Chandler he blurted out "Chandler! You did so awesome, I'm proud of you! You saw the Monster trucks!" (Tears filled my eyes) Yes, yes he did. And on the way out, they both giggled like it was some kind of conspiracy. Chandler said and signed "Loud". This experience had meaning for him.
We were a block from McDonalds, so I decided to treat them to ice cream even in zero degree weather. And they had the playland to themselves, and I drank crappy coffee and put my feet up. Watching them, it hit me. A year or two ago, he was terrified of noisy children in this very playland. He was afraid to cross the bridge or even climb to the top. Tonight he was singing from the very highest point, and grinning at me through the safety net.
Parents, listen to me. Do not get discouraged when your child doesn't hit the milestone you want when you want it. Do not let feelings of despair burden you. What happened tonight was a success. It was. We went further than we ever had. We tried, we made it for a little while, and we turned the evening into ice cream and a sleepover. Now I watch Noah playing Super Mario wii, and chatting incessantly to his cousin who will occasionally smile. I am so proud of my nephew for being in tune to his cousin's needs. I am so proud of Chandler for pushing himself and trying. And I am proud of myself for trying something new, and not being discouraged. And handling it with calmness and a positive attitude. Your outlook will change the world for your child and yourself. Be strong moms and dads, and brave. You won't regret it. I promise.