I had plans for this summer. My son also had plans. The difficulty was our plans were very different.
Isaac is six. He has autism and global delay. He has neurofibromatosis. He also has huge sensory issues, rigid thinking and a massive love of lifts and hand dryers. He has no spoken language.
So when school finished for seven and a half weeks his plans involved food (mostly mashed potato and gravy), lifts, hand dryers, food, hand dryers and more lifts…and maybe the occasional ride on a train.
I, on the other hand, wanted day trips, parks, picnics, garden play, road trips, time seeing family and shared adventures with him and his twin sister.
Someone had to give….
I took him to a park…and then we went to a local supermarket where he could see the hand dryers.
I got what I wanted. He got what he wanted.
We were both happy.
So that is what we did.
He would play for a bit and then watch those dryers a bit more.
I took him to pottery painting. He humoured me by putting on the apron (with support) and putting a tiny amount of paint on his model…and then he tore that apron right off and found the toilets to look for a hand dryer!
He has no problem communicating what he wants when it comes to his agenda…
I took him took him on a train ride to a big city. His favourite place there was the lift at the train station! Nothing else mattered.
We traveled for an hour by train just to see a lift! But you have never seen a happier boy than Isaac was at that lift!
By now we were coming to an understanding.
I took him to the park again. This time all he wanted was the bushes at the side of the path! He felt them, watched them, heard them and even licked them. Well, what else did I think he would do at the play park?
This is life with Isaac. He had no idea others were staring at him.
We had an invite to a family event at a local restaurant. Isaac made me so proud sitting at a large table and eating his meal (mostly using cutlery) and even having some pudding. But that was followed by an full 20 minutes in the toilets at the…well I think you probably know by now where he wanted to go to.
It wasn’t like I was hoping to speak to those relatives anyway…
A charity invited us for a day trip to the safari park. Isaac showed not one second of interest in any animal. In fact he never even glanced at them.
But when he saw a sign for toilets he smiled, ran, and flapped with excitement.
I don’t expect he will go into veterinary care when he is older…
I took him and his sister on a steam train ride. He did enjoy looking out the window at the passing scenery and he did enjoy eating in the cafe. But if he could talk I am pretty sure his highlight would have been that the toilets had his favourite hand dryers in…the ones with buttons to press.
It is what it is. He sees the world in a very different way. And sometimes just having him with me is a bonus.
By the end I just decided to run with it. I only had to look at the excitement in his eyes and the happiness on his face to know that lifts and hand dryers are the most important things in his life. And if I want to get anything achieved these are the motivating factors to use.
I still would have preferred to have spent summer building sand castles, eating ice-cream, visiting castles and museums and time together as a family building memories. Hand dryers are loud, functional things that I would use only to…well dry my hands really! Lifts are convenient and quick ways to change levels…and that is when my interest ends.
But love takes you to places and has you do things in life you don’t expect.
And so I have spent an insubordinate amount of time this summer listening to hand dryers and watching lifts. And in his own way we have had fun. I had my day trips, parks, picnics and quality time with my son. And he had his fixations.
Life is about compromise. Love is amount accepting someone,however different to you they are, and not always wanting to change them. Making things work is about coming to an understanding.
I have had a lovely summer. Isaac has had a magical time. We just spent our quality time in places I never really imagined.