Sunday, May 27, 2012

Good Days

We recently returned from our best vacation ever. We rented a house on the Oregon coast. We had no expectations; we just wanted to relax. Neither of us have been to the Pacific Northwest, so we got online and booked a place. We LUCKED OUT. Last year we did a road trip type trip to Yellowstone and back and saw so many amazing and beautiful parts of the country. However, six hotels in eight days wasn’t the best thing for a child who has trouble staying quiet, holding still, or understanding why he would need to be quiet or hold still. So this year, we rented a whole house with a kitchen and a deck and best of all - no shared walls! I read a tip today on an autism website today that said to get a place with a kitchen so you don’t have to eat out at every meal. I think that tip could easily be extrapolated to this: If you are anyone, with kids or without, a house is a great idea for a vacation! However, if you are a family who has a child who may not understand such “social conventions” as not jumping up and down for hours, and using words to communicate instead of yells,   causing anxiety in hotels for his parents, then a house is not only a great idea, but it is a lifesaver.

Liam kept talking about our “new house” and “new car” and wondering what happened to his house and his car. We kept explaining that we were just borrowing these things and would be going back to our old house and car later. I can’t help but wonder if every time we have been on vacation if he thinks we’ve moved. I wonder if that’s why on some trips he seemed so out of sorts. This was the first time he’s been able to communicate those thoughts and questions, giving us the opportunity to dispel his worry and insecurities. 

I won’t bore my handful of readers with every detail of the mountains, the ocean, the wildlife, the beaches, the fresh fish, the local culture. or any of the other things we loved about Oregon, but I will share my favorite Liam moment. We climbed this huge sand dune. It had to be two stories high. Liam ran up it, we huffed and puffed. We got to the top, slid down, and found ourselves on this huge expanse of beach. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It went on for miles. Liam started running. He ran and ran and ran some more. I imagine he has never felt so free in his little life.

We had a whole week of good days. Good days for Liam used to be few and far between. A combination of his difficulty and frustration with communicating and our difficulty and frustration trying to understand led to meltdowns on both sides. In general, these days are gradually becoming farther and farther apart. We have learned more about how Liam learns, and he is learning how to communicate. We are working on how to better prepare him for possibly stressful events. He is figuring out how to calm himself down and get himself out of overwhelming situations when he needs to. We’re learning and working hard, and so is he! Even so, we all needed some time off from all of that hard work. We were all ready for a break, and all of us had a great time. It was refreshing and encouraging to see Liam so relaxed and happy.

I’ll leave you with the evidence while I hold my breath…