We entered the place only to find everybody and their brother ( and his wife, and their 13 kids) had that same idea we did. Ugh. Aidan wasn't really bothered by the amount of people in the eating area and the tables aren't super cramped in there. So we start to peruse the menu and relax. Deciding to take the antsy toddler into the playroom may have been where my plan when wonky. He and I walked hand in hand into bedlam. And he caved in. I watched his face kind of go into robot mode and he immediately wanted to sit on the floor. There were climbing structures and tubes and a ball pit ( filled with full on dodgeball style balls not those craptastic plastic numbers at "giant mouse pizzaria") and Aidan wanted no part of it. Any of it. The screams and maniacal peals of laughter were just too much. He started counting the padded prison bars of the ball pit over and over and over and tuned out of this crazytown and into his safe zone. It was really fairly quick and I only had to coax him twice times to know it wasn't gonna happen. So he led me out of there at a fast pace, looking over his shoulder in a sort of "holy shit this place is nuts" kind of way. And we cooled off by stealing croutons from the salad bar.
As I watched him chew and we made our way back to Daddy ordering pizza, my heart broke a little. We hadn't had this yet. I don't really know what to do. I mean, I knew what to do. Not come to this type of place with any expectation of instant success. Not negative, just reality. But part of me goes to the extreme place of " let's never come back here again, ever". I hate seeing his face like that. Scared animal doesn't cover it. New for me and I wish my hubs had seen it too because when I briefed him, bless his heart, he just simply placed our order to go and smiled. He knows how I feel about not pressuring A to have a great time and "be normal". He knows when my face says "abort mission". I am grateful for that.
I came home and told my sis about it. Felt weirder to me than anyone else it seemed. After marinating on it over night I think it's because I had hoped he would stay oblivious to the loud sensory overload issues that are typical for autistic children ( and grown ups too). I had really clung to the things he was "better at" than the typical autistic little kid. I am having a hard time admitting this but I feel like it's important. I am sorta crushed that he falls into another part of the spectrum now. And that he seems to be growing into and not out of some traits. This is hard. The changes right now are feeling like steps backward and I am so frustrated. I am mad at nature. I am sad for his social life. I feel like I am not doing something, anything, that magical one thing, that could be helping. A very helpless, worthless Mommy moment. it doesn't do anyone any good for me to feel this way and I know it will pass.
Right now I am going to focus on matching up some kid of cohesive group wardrobe combination for out family pictures. My wonderful pal is the lady behind the lens for Pfaus Photography (and fellow blogger at pdxmomma.com) and she always manages to capture our family perfectly. No joke, she gets Aidan when he is smiling! Rare photo if you follow my IG (kungfoofeltus) you will see I am not kidding. Anyhow, I can't find jack squat for me to wear. Isn't that how it goes? I got the gang semi organized and now I have to pull of matching them, and not looking like a manatee. The nice thing is that if I look even semi aquaticly blubbery, Jenn will always be that friend that tells me to suck it in or turn for a better angle. I love her for that. I will of course post pics when we get em. Just to end on a sweet note, here is a couple amazing shots from last years session. ::swoon:: she is incredible. ( and my god Aidan is so big compared to this!!!)
Also, I am ready for whatever website/blogs/books you may love if you have experience with autistic children. Thanks in advance for any and all info :)
Update: What a difference a year can make.