To have a little whinge about how privileged patents of NT children are?(125 Posts)
It's half lighthearted, half just exhausted from a horrific day.
DS is 3 and is autistic. He's non verbal, a bolter, doesn't understand language, has no way of communicating and is EXTREMELY strong. (Took four very big male doctors to pin him down to examine him last time we were in A&E)
So stupidly, today, in half term we went to a soft play. 'The best soft play in your area!' It had amazing reviews, and I spent ages researching it, like, hours. Me and DH decided it would be safe, as it lets adults onto the main frame, and there was a gated 1-5 section that looked amazing, and there was a sensory room if it all went to pot and he needed to calm after a meltdown.
Well. We spent the best part of £20 for DS to have a meltdown, nearly be scalded by coffee and have a serve asthma attack from the panic attack he had. It was horrendous.
We lasted 20 minutes.
There was a second floor!!!! Not just a second floor in the climbing frame, a whole bloody second floor where kids could exit the play frame! And parents were m sat with hot drinks and food. I know to most kids and parents this would be fine, but oh god it terrified us! DS broke free from DH and was halfway down the stairs in mere seconds. He nearly tripped and fell, but luckily we had the reins on so DH caught him before he tumbled. And just the thought of there being an entire area where DS could be doing whatever he liked without us knowing was so bizarre, I've never been to a soft play like that before!
Then the exits from the soft play itself. Omg there were tonnes! We couldn't keep track of him at all! One went straight into the cafe area, where parents were leaving with hot drinks. It's not as if DS would exit the frame then go back in or even come and find us he'd just run, either out towards the door or to a strangers table.
The 1-5 area was full of older kids, the gate was never shut and it was absolute bedlam. There was even a kid ON TOP of the frame at one stage. The sensory room was in the middle of the baby area, so was louder than literally anywhere else so that didn't calm him down. Then to top it all off, our pram didn't fit in the baby change OR the disabled toilets (it's only a bugaboo donkey, not a bus)
It'd be so nice sometimes to not have to carry out personal risk assessments on a new place, it'd be so nice to not panic about losing him every waking hour. We take a picture every day before we leave the house, so we know what he's wearing in case he bolts. Even with the reins, he still occasionally manages to break free. I was so jealous of all the parents sitting there watching their kids, knowing they'd just come back to their table.
I wouldn't change DS for the world, but my god, today was hard work.
You have my sympathies but OMG, soft play is like the inner circle of hell at the best of times, never mind in half-term! Do you have the option to take him at another time, during school term, possibly getting towards lunchtime when anyone who is there is probably packing up to go home?
Softplay is always a nightmare for the majority of parents ime, including those with NT children.
Fuck knows how anyone sits down and relaxes while their children play. If you aren't saving your toddler from being trampled by bigger kids then you are refereeing between disputes and trying to stop your older kids from trampling the toddlers.
That sounds seriously tough, but you also sound like amazing parents
Thank you though for explaining your struggles so clearly. Its really given me a new perspective on chikdren with sn and their parents and will help me to better understand when I come across this. I mean I knew it must be tough, but didn't exactly get just how tough and all the issues.
My son is 23 months and I have visited our GP and arranged a referral to a paediatrician because he is appearing to have the same traits as your son. Although I haven't had the experience you speak of yet (because when we do go he doesnt go anywhere other than sit in the ball pit part playing with the balls) we are recently back from a week in fuertaventura and I came back more exhausted than when I left!! The bolting, the lack of understanding of language etc it was a nightmare. I agree it's hard work!
Sympathy from me too. I'm sorry -- I actually laughed at your post. It brought back past horrors.
DD was a bolter (although she could speak) and was drawn to hot liquid and dangerous places like a magnet. It was a nightmare. We used to go to softplay etc when it was school time and quiet.
My asd 10 year old is still the same, although he can speak (was very behind with speech until around 5).
We can be walking to the shop, it only takes someone to look at him (in his eyes the wrong way) and he will run.
It is hard, and I do have other children who are nt so can really notice the difference.
Infact OP would you mind me pm'ing you with a few questions??
You have my sympathies. DS has SN and last time we went to soft play he ran screaming through the cafe and tried to kick his way through the emergency exit. We haven't been back.
I know this isn't what your asking but smaller soft plays are likely to be better, fewer exit routes and less over-stimulating. They aren't as well advertised and less likely to be a chain.
If it gives you hope, my friends' non-verbal autistic DS (and my probably not NT (being assessed) DD) have both grown out of it. But I still always shut the gates in playgrounds/softplay and watch out for other people's DCs.
Soft play is probably just too much for him to cope with.
Are there any places near you that will hire a sensory room? I know there's places near me that do, by the half hour, for your sole use - so less chance of a meltdown.
There are also a few places that have hydro pools and things like that.
It sounds awful and my Heart goes out to you - we don't realize all the time how Lucky we are (NT parents )
As a grandparent who spent time in soft play the other week, it is one of the circles of hell. Give me a field/park any day.
It depends where you live, but I used to go out of my way to find empty playgrounds or places where DD could just run safely. (Doesn't work if you're somewhere like London.)
Soft play in school holidays is hell I tried it once and ds lasted 10 minutes before a meltdown. I'd not even managed to get him onto the play frame.
HilBil21, I'm an open book, as away!
Oh those places are mental. Honestly, I think we all needed a stiff drink afterwards! (They definitely should serve alcohol on the premises. Less dangerous than hot drinks in my opinion )
And yes sleepy we have a second DS and although he's only 6 months old, I'm fairly certain he's NT, he actually smiles when I walk into room! I'd almost forgotten what it's like to get a response from a child when you speak to them 😂
There's a local soft play which is amazing. He loves it, we love it, it's safe, no loud music and spacious (not crammed all together like sardines in a bleeding can) also, the staff all know him so are hyper aware if he's anywhere he shouldn't be. They're amazing ❤️
We just thought we'd brave a new place. HUGE mistake haha
But.... but.... why did you take him to soft play?! I find one of the benefits of having an autistic child is having the perfect reason to avoid going We have a jumping/trampoline place near us. Never been, but it's popular with other families with autistic children as they can expend some energy but you can be with them all the time and it's more contained and less overwhelming in terms of number of different possible activities. I don't know if that would suit your DS better, or if there's anything like it near you but could be worth looking into? for your difficult day.
Oh OP that sounds hideous!
We only use one soft play locally now - I do not understand the multiple ones with 55 exits and no barrier between play area and cafe.
I feel for you but don't think that it was hell just because of your sons autism.
DS2 is a bolter, we've lost him lots of places as a toddler including legoland and once from the library when we had to call the police (he ended up round the corner and past a busy car park and down the road at wilkinsons!!). He is NT.
on the other hand DS1 who has ASD would not stray from a predefined area and would always come back to us and never stray anywhere he hadn't been told he was allowed to go.
He would however have a major meltdown in somewhere like soft play as it would be too noisy for him during half term!
Mo we took our school age nephew out for the day! Hence the soft play choice! And we obviously forgot that DS is autistic and asthmatic haha
Ended up spending a fortune on Lego to placate my poor nephew, and a fortune on pizza express to placate DS and DH 😂 (nephew gets fed through a Mickey button so he's a cheap date!)
God. We sound like the bloomin' disability clan here!
Changed - smiles from your little guy brought tears to my eyes
You sound like a great mum.
Oh god, you went to soft play during half term? That way madness lies.
Try a smaller, contained one. Go on a weekday morning during term time. Or see if they offer any autism friendly sessions - although they've invariably loud, echoey places so I'm not sure how sound friendly they will ever be.
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