We recently realised we don’t really take Oscar to many places. It’s not that we consciously avoid taking him out, but I think him being at preschool most of the week and me not driving has meant we’ve fallen into a bit of a rut of keeping everything to what we know. Park, town, shops, farmers market, Cecily’s house. It’s not a vast list is it? Maybe we have been avoiding taking him out. And that’s not fair. Because actually I think we’re more frightened of what might happen than anything that actually has happened. And what’s the point in being afeared of the thought of something?
Anyway last week Ben had the week off work. It was during term time, so Oscar was still going to preschool in the mornings, but buoyed by the support of another adult and access to a car gave me the courage to suggest we try some new stuff. And I’m so, so glad I did.
Last Tuesday saw us meet with the Educational Psychologist who is going to be assessing what kind of support Oscar will need when going to big school next year. We haven’t had the report yet, but as much in our lives, I was more worried about what the meeting would be than what it actually was. To celebrate the fact that it was done and that particular ball was rolling, we decided to try taking Oscar out for lunch straight from nursery. This was a pretty big deal. We used to eat out quite a bit but haven’t since he became too big for being strapped into the highchair. We went to ASK in Haslemere, a restaurant he always loved in the past. Much as with everything at the moment, we went expecting the best, but totally prepared for the worst.
And he surprised us all.
Don’t get me wrong, we were on the edge of our seats the whole time we were there, but boy oh boy did he do bloody brilliantly.
So following this success, we decided to do something we’ve fancied for ages. On Wednesday afternoon we went to Winchester Science Centre (previously INTEC). Its a 45 minute drive from our house and of course he fell asleep in the car. Balls I thought, well this isn’t going to work now is it? Turns out I should shut up and stop making assumptions. We woke him up and carried him in, a little bit dopey but not once did he get upset. And when he saw just how much stuff there was to touch. Well, that was it, he was off. He went from one thing to the next to the next, pulling levers and pushing buttons. It didn’t matter to him that he hadn’t a clue what any of it was about. He could play with it and that was enough. And we just tried to keep up.
We were there for an hour and a half. And he didn’t stop. But when it came to leave, we told him what was going on and he came with us. No arguments, no melt downs. And he walked, holding my hand, all the way to the car and climbed in. It. Was. AWESOME!
But the best part of the day for me was that he came running up to us three times in that hour and half and said to us “happy”. Oscar’s language gets better and better as the weeks and months go by and he can tell us when he’s “sad”, but rarely does he verbally express joy. It was worth going just for that.
I know I need to be braver. My instinct is still to avoid busy times (such as the holidays), but I need to face up to the fact that sometimes it’s going to work and sometimes it won’t and be comfortable with that. I’m doing him a disservice by keeping him from trying things just because I assume he won’t enjoy it. So this week (and while I’ve had the back up of a visiting friends), we’ve been doing just that. Being brave. And he’s getting better and better at waiting, holding hands, sitting and eating.
Of course I say ‘better’. Maybe he’s been able to do it for ages? And that makes me feel a little bit bad. But really that’s outweighed by how awesome I feel looking at these pictures. You might get excited by trying new and exciting days out and activities. For me, my heart leaps when he can sit. Autism will do that to you.
I know not every outing will end so successfully. I’m not niave. But these did. And I want to shout it from the rooftops.
I’m so, so proud.