Venturing into London with our youngest son is something we have avoided due to his loathing of busy areas. Today I decided to bite the bullet and take all three kids to London. The eldest two have been on frequent visits and although our daughter can find it overwhelming, she copes with it in her own way - normally by holding my hand and talking/singing loudly!
Our youngest son went prepared for a day out in a busy area and wore a hat and sunglasses and took his silicone earplugs. These are all different ways he has learnt to cope with sensory distractions.
After a longer than normal train journey as there had been signal problems, we arrived at Kings Cross and met my mum. First port of call was the Harry Potter shop in the station and our youngest son used the power of his puppy dog brown eyes so that Nanny would buy him a mini Hedwig owl to add to his soft toy collection. The puppy dog eyes never fail!!
Going into Kings Cross station isn't the best location to find things to do within walking distance but using the underground as well today would have been a step too far for our son. Behind the station, a lot of building work is transforming the area and we found some outside fountains for the children to run in and cool down in this hot weather. We had a picnic by the canal and then the heavens opened and thunder and lightening struck. We made a dash for the shops in St Pancras station and at our youngest son's request we saw a Eurostar train.
It may not have been the most exciting of visits, but three hours in London was plenty of time for our six year old on his first trip to London. He stood up most of the way home on the train out of choice, but I think he was enjoying the vestibular input from the rocking motion of the train. On the journey the stress of the day began to show and he was screeching loudly, picking fights with his siblings and clicking his tongue, which is a sign of anxiety. It was a packed train, although we had avoided rush hour and he didn't like the other passengers looking his way.
Three hours after arriving home, he finally calmed down. Toys had been thrown everywhere and he had made a den under the seat of the armchair to retreat to.
I'm looking upon it as a successful day out and the more trips we do like this, the easier it will get. We need to take small steps so I may do another couple of trips like this before I build in a short journey on the underground. It is important to prepare our ASD children for life and do normal days out like other families, we just have to be patient and do it in a stepping stone style so that our children adjust and develop their own coping mechanisms to deal with life around them. We also ensure our eldest son has separate day trips to London with one of us, so that he can enjoy the things he wants to see without having to worry about the needs of his siblings.