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Is it possible to have a nice family day out? Feel like the worst parent ever(13 Posts)
DD(5) with SPD we've known about since age 2 so we are used to being prepared for sensory issues, but she has recently been diagnosed (probably) with Aspergers also.
On days out we do all the preparation (you've been here before, this is what's going to happen, give her a "timetable" etc) but she always seems to get obsessed with something that then makes the day so stressful. When we went to the beach it was picking pebbles to the point she wouldn't move on to do anything and just screamed at us when we tried to do anything different, so the day revolved around her picking pebbles and having a meltdown whenever we had to move on/have lunch/time to go home. Today we went on a trail for children and she had to have her photo taken with every single milestone, couldn't deviate from the map (like go with the flow of what you see, had to follow the map exactly) It is so exhausting especially as we have DD2(3), invariably we split into one parent with one child and seem to not see each other for an hour, then we swap as it's so exhausting and frustrating. She is so controlling with DD2 when we are all together and just barks instructions at her and shouts at her when she doesn't do what she wants, that I spend a lot of time saying "DD2 wants to walk or run when she wants to not when you tell her /do her own thing" etc.
I either need to accept this is the way things are, or think of coping strategies (for DD and for us as parents) I feel a bit lost. And sad and tearful today also that we can't seem to have a nice day as I end up frustrated even when I try my hardest to channel my inner "flop" and have loads of patience, it never seems enough. Anyone relate or have advice please?
I can somewhat relate. Neither of my boys are rigid in what has to happen but we can get into all sorts of "fun" ds(7) has SPd dyspraxia and other things going on ds(3) has asd.
My asd toddler is somewhat easier to bear as I have been living with his brother so long that 'quirky' is our normal.
In my experience it has taken time to get to know my older boy. Things tat were hard years ago aren't so much now.
It's a combination of knowing and avoiding his triggers, knowing when to back off. Also he's coping better and it's becoming more natural way of doing things.
So for me, it did get better
I'm also a lot mor relaxed now. We was in nandos last week and my toddler was making weird noises. Ds(11) said "people are staring" and I honestly didn't care one bit. He wasn't being loud or disturbing people. He's got asd and as he still deserves a life, my kids still deserve a meal out and I certainly need all that too.
I think the people staring was just trying to figure him out.
Oh yes I've had many many days out which have been horrendous due to DC1's behaviour.
I often wonder what's the point, will we ever have a nice stressfree day out?
With my DD it's tantrums/meltdowns that tend to be the main problem.
However I know we've had days out when she's been utterly delightful so I just have to remind myself of that. I've now learnt which type of day trips go well and which tend to be a disaster. We also tend to do the one parent to one child thing too, we have a big age gap between ours so that's inevitable anyway.
Had an AWFUL day today really lost it with my ds can you just LISTEN. He looked at me like I'd just beat him into next week. Must admit even the dog cringed I NEVER SHOUT JUST LOST IT! Felt about this big [ ] when he'd calmed I returned he said 'sorry Mum but I have autism!' made me feel even smaller!
On going to bed he said sorry Mum I'll try and listen 2morrow!
I apologized to him said even supermums get tired.
You can only do the best that you can do at that particular time. Try not to beat yourself up on the small stuff easier said then done believe me I know.
Just know he'll be up in the early hours wanting to discuss how to listen properly the difference between hearing and listening is the latest conversation we have over and over again!!!
It's very hard and I sympathise-sounds like it ended up spoiling the day you hoped you'd have and was hard work and frustrating instead of fun and relaxing.
The biggest change we made to family outings was to completely alter our expectations. I resisted doing it for the longest time as it felt like I would be giving in and giving up, but actually it's been liberating.
For example, if it's a complicated outing which involves several different elements, one parents takes the other dc and the other stays at home with DS and does something he'd enjoy.
If it's a single focus day out i.e play park on one area, we can all go, but depending on how DS is that day, we might go out to eat after, but it depends on his mood. If out to eat isn't going to work, we get a take away and go home.
I fought with DS yesterday to go to our local park as the other dc wanted to go and it wasn't fair on them. He hit me repeatedly and spat at me twice. Everyone looked and stared but I try to switch off to the audience and focus on DS. In the end he had a great time and it was worth the effort.
We are attempted eurodisney soon and I fully expect to spend 10 minutes in the park and the rest in the car with DS, waiting for the others to finish having a great time. I always set my expectations atthe lowest bar so anything which exceeds it is a bonus!
Yes you can have a great day out, you just need to adjust your expectations and go with the flow of autism. Things will change as she grows and can do more. It is not stress free, and you sort of have to enjoy the bits you can.
A couple of years ago I thought family days out were gone forever ( we have two ds's with AS) but we did manage a lovely day out yesterday altogether.
What has changed?
Different destinations. You may have a burning desire to visit somewhere but it is never going to be the lovely day you want if child is pretty much guaranteed to have a meltdown because of stress or sensory overload. You are much more likely to have a nice day if you choose somewhere the child can cope with. Not sure we ever managed a really successful day on the Beach despite everyone's assumptions that it is a magical day out for little ones.
Keep it short. Better to have 1 hour
10 minutes of fun and leave on a good note than a longer trip and run into problems. Yes, it is annoying when you have paid a lot for entrance fees but still the better option. Season tickets are great because you can do lots of short trips.
We make adaptions whenever possible to ease the situation. Typically one of the ds's sits in the front and an adult in the back rather than both together as otherwise they are stressed out by the journey before we have even started the days activities.
We almost always go now with two adults so we can divide and conquer if one is having problems. It also helps ds2 feel as if he has control over the situation if he knows he doesn't have to do what ds1 does. E,g yesterday he got very hot on the journey and was refusing to start cycling. So fine we tell him I'll just wait with him by the car and dh and ds1 can go off. Lo and behold in a couple of minutes we were all cycling down the track.
We also do lots of one child / one adult days as both are much calmer on their own and they can cope with a lot more on their own than when they are together.
We do a system where one adult looks after DS2 and another adult looks after the other three. If it becomes too exhausting, then we swap over. After over a decade of experience, we now have a repertoire of days out and activities that DS2 can cope with (aquarium, uncrowded zoo, swimming pool, uncrowded museum). We go first thing in the morning, and don't push it past a couple of hours.
All he ever does at the beach is search for particular types of pebble. He is happy doing this for a couple of hours, and it's an improvement on the early years when he couldn't cope with the feel of sand at all.
Pebble searching is good. Looking back as a child I loved searching for smooth pebbles in the garden mud. I think it's so hard to stand back some days and let them play how they want.
Ds likes to mouth and read books they wrong way ( upside down). I need to remember at least he's looking at a book. Which drives me bonkers as I can never read to him.
It's harder when your not at home and you can't get past onto the next thing.
Breaking news: went to a beach today with another family. The six neurotypical children swam and body boarded. After doing a bit of pebble searching, DS2 went in up to his waist and stayed in the water for about ten minutes!
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