Our daughter celebrated her 11th birthday on sunday and the celebrations got off to a bad start with our youngest son in full meltdown an hour before we were due to pick our daughter up from her drama class on saturday to go out to dinner. He did not want to be in a public place where people might look at him. He generally lives in baseballs caps and hooded tops when we are out these days so that he can avoid looking at people. Unfortunately, on saturday he got himself into such a state with an hour or more of screaming and throwing things around. When he has got to this stage, it is best to try and let him calm down and not draw too much attention to him. He then gets to the point where he asks for bear hugs which always make him feel more secure and happier to do things and once we reached this stage on saturday, we managed to get him into the car.
Where to go for dinner had already been the subject of a discussion, as our daughter wanted to go to Chiquitos even though she only wanted to eat the churros as dessert. There was nothing on the main course menu that she really liked. We suggested other restaurants but her mind was fixed and no one was going to change it. Once in the restaurant we managed to get a table in the corner with no one overlooking us. Our youngest son spent the time wanting cuddles, shouting, laying down or hiding under the table. The experience soon overwhelmed our daughter as well as she was in 'loud' mode, but we all managed to survive the meal and have a 'good' time.
On sunday, we went to Linton Zoo as we had bought our daughter a zookeeper experience. I had already told the staff about her ASD and that she was unlikely to engage in lots of conversation and the staff were fantastic and made it such an enjoyable experience, that our daughter wants to do it again. She enjoyed being up close with the animals and bathed a giant tortoise, fed it as well as kangaroos, wallabies and lemurs. She also washed down the lemurs sleeping area and was very happy that she wasn't given the job of clearing up any animal poo!! Poo seemed to be a big topic of conversation for our youngest son as he compared the size of animal poo to what he's capable of producing. He tells me he does bigger poos than zebras!!
Our two sons also got to join in the fun as Linton Zoo run a session twice a day where you can stroke different animals. They got the chance to touch a baby tortoise, snake, blue tongued lizard, guinea pig and stick insect.
It seems obligatory these days when we go to places that sell soft toys to buy our youngest son one to add to his ever-growing collection. There must be 50 at the end of his bed but they do help him with his tactile processing difficulties and keep him calm when anxious, as he enjoys stroking them. He also takes at least one to school each day to help with his anxieties, so they are well used and loved. In his words' they are my obsession', which is common with children with ASD. They all have passions that can become obsessive, but they are generally a coping mechanism for them to deal with the stresses that life throws at them.
The weekend ended up being a success and the zookeeper experience was a huge hit. Now we are on countdown for 'how many sleeps' until our youngest son's birthday at the end of the month.