Today we went on a trip to Loch Lomond Shores. We usually venture further round the Loch to Luss or Firkin Point but the weather forecast wasn’t too good, so we decided to stay where shelter could be found if needed.
Loch Lomond Shores is a mostly paved area at the bottom of the Loch with some shops, a Sea Life centre, playground, shows, a small beach area and a paddle steamer. As such, it should be a safe and relaxing place to take a stroll with the family. That is if you are not out for a walk with a very active, fast, strong and excitable autistic child. Instead of a nice pathway around the Loch with a tourist train and a little beach area, you see dangerous trip/slip hazards in the guise of rocks and gravel, spinning train wheels to run alongside and try to turn and a giant pool of water just waiting to be plunged into.
This afternoon we had an appointment with yet another new Consultant Paediatrician. We have never seen the same person twice, meaning a long time spent explaining background and history before we even get started. To be honest, I didn’t have much hope or expectation before we went, so at least I wasn’t disappointed. This one at least observed J before we went into the room, which is a first. He was very nice and asked lots of questions, listening patiently to my answers, but in the end we are still no further forward and nothing has changed.
After a very bad morning, with a major meltdown over me leaving his side to shower and get dressed, we dragged ourselves out of the door, into the car and up to the local Health Centre. J usually doesn’t react well to doctor’s visits and I wondered if his behaviour was down to some sixth-sense, knowing what I was about to do to him. However, my son seems to do the opposite of what I expect at times and was perfectly happy to come into the Health Centre and sit down to play with the toys in the waiting area. He even stayed with my mum, without protest or upset, while I went in to speak to the doctor alone. Once he was invited into the room he bounced in happily, waving to the doctor and laughing, closing the door behind him! You could have knocked me down with a feather. I’m sure the doctor must think I am a crazy person who has completely made up the stories of how he reacts to being closed inside a small room for medical appointments.
As a family we regularly visit our local Heritage museum. It’s a fantastic place in most types of weather. It has lots of outdoor space, a spacious indoor museum area, a playground (with the ever-important swings), a path through the woods, a tram, a canal and most importantly – trains! Our boys love it here. In fact, it’s probably one of J’s favourite places.
Our last visit started off as normal with a happy dash for the gates when we got out of the car. J then started off in the direction of the tram line, which he loves to walk alongside (and across/on). We began our usual circuit of the grounds with J happliy running on ahead of us and looking back with glee to check that we were following on behind. Little did we know of the drama that lay ahead. There was a special event on in the Museum and the place was a lot busier than usual. This meant J having to dodge people on the paths, as well as not being able to just use his usual favourite machines and things. Waiting and sharing are not really J’s bag. He seemed to cope fairly well at this point, with only a few exasperated wails along the way.
People being on his trains and in his way became more frequent as we went further round and then the heavens opened! We weren’t really properly dressed for this latest development and decided to head indoors. This was not a great idea. We hadn’t fully realised before that J had a set way of exploring these surroundings. He did not react well to the unplanned diversion in his route. He angrily marched around the indoor museum, crying out and wailing at regular intervals. It too was busy, which did not help matters. All of his usual exhibits had a person already playing with them and the toy area was filled with other children. If I am honest, I don’t cope well with J crying and wailing, particularly not in full public view. It is very hard to settle him once this cycle begins and for me passers-by only see a badly behaved child who is not getting his way. My ‘flight’ reaction to the stress comes into play and I just want to run away/leave the situation behind.
Thankfully the rain passed and we were finally able to take J back outside and to the playground for his usual extended play on the swings. This eventually helped to settle him and my nerves began to ease. Just who do these people think they are invading our space and using J’s stuff? I suppose, if nothing else, this visit helped us to see how J had beaten a particular path around a familiar setting and we had unwittingly allowed him to do this. We now try to vary the path we take or the things we look at, in the hope that it will help him to cope a little better with unexpected change in future. Fingers crossed!
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More information about routines and obsessions can be found at:
Information on the importance of routines, as well as when they can become a problem:
Welcome to my blog about family life with our three children (updated sept ’15), coping with our son’s Autism and the daily challenges it throws at us. My aim is to talk about our life and experiences, sharing my thoughts and what I have found out along the way, but also to look for positive outcomes and lessons to take forward as we muddle on through. I hope some of you can relate to our experiences and that we can all take comfort in knowing that these things don’t just happen to us, we are not alone!
The views and thoughts contained in this blog are my own. They do not convey or endorse the views of anyone else or any third party. Any links are added to provide further research or information linked to topics I have chosen to discuss. I have found the links useful but make no claims about validity of their content or usefulness and do not endorse or recommend the associated companies, individuals or sites.
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