Distressing Behavior Shouldn’t Keep Special Needs Parents at Home


outingThis past Saturday we had the honor to attend the high school graduation and celebration of my nephew. James is an extraordinary young man who is smart, kind and generous. There is no way we would miss his graduation. I was excited for him and the celebration but I also kicked my planning into high gear to get prepared.

If you’re a parent of small children there is always some level of mental and physical planning that occurs before you embark on an outing. It goes something like this: snack/drink (check) favorite toy (check), diapers (check), mental armor to handle tantrums/meltdowns (umm, missing). Okay, I am being a little silly, but this is true to some degree.

Because I have both small children and a child with special needs, I’ve added more to my checklist. It includes all the items listed above with the following: frustration (leave it at home), Plan A (check), Plan B (check), Exit Plan (in progress). Now, I’m not being silly.

outings2We try to attend as many functions as we can, despite knowing that Juliana may not do so well when she gets around others. My husband and I decided early on that we would not stay home in fear of Juliana’s behavior. We just head out the door and manage it as best we can. Two weeks ago we had a great outing that I would love to bottle and duplicate. We went for a visit to my in-laws. I got Jessa settled to play and then I got to work on Juliana. With favorite toys and everything dangerous out of her immediate reach, I moved on to enjoy my visit. Much to my surprise, Juliana entertained herself for nearly an hour with not a mention of a fuss. As fatigue set in, she started to get a little fussy. So, that’s when I started to execute our exit plan. All in all, it was a great visit.

Things did not go as smoothly for graduation. Juliana sat in the auditorium for a good while and as a snack time neared she started to get antsy. We made a quick exit and headed into the lobby. Juliana was screaming so loudly, that we were asked to take her further away from the festivities. Even with doors and glass in between, she could still be heard inside. Oh boy!

When she calmed down, we stayed in the lobby and I peeked through the glass so I wouldn’t miss anything. Juliana covered a lot of ground pacing the empty lobby, busying herself with a lot of walking. She did well as long as there were not a lot of people around. But, hello it’s a graduation so there is no avoiding a crowd for long. She lost it again when the ceremony was over and the crowd was unleashed to spill into the lobby.

When I originally started this post, I was all set for it to turn out as the things I’ve learned about managing outings for my special needs kid—like how to make things smoother. Saturday wasn’t a total bust, but it wasn’t the best day either. But as I started running the mental playback, I reminded myself that it’s okay. I accomplished just what I wanted; to be there to see my nephew graduate and to celebrate with him as he begins a new chapter. By Sunday, I was still working to recover from the busy day of meltdowns. But, I’m nearly recovered now and that’s okay too.

We do the best we can as parents and sometimes our little ones are doing the best they can too with what they are facing. With each outing we’ve got a fifty-fifty shot of things turning out pretty good. We wish the odds were better and sometimes we get a break and they are. But for now, I’m learning and appreciating that fifty-fifty will just have to be enough.

Comments

  1. Ashlie
    • June 19, 2014
    • 1:38 pm
    • Reply

    I think its awesome that you guys take Juliana out and expose to her many activities and different settings. She is a blessed little girl! I miss her smile every day. Love the girls and hope you are doing well.

    • Sabrina
      Sabrina
      • June 19, 2014
      • 8:31 pm
      • Reply

      We are better than good here! I will say that it can be very challenging to get her out, but we think it makes the difference. Besides that, if she stayed home no one would get to see those beautiful blue eyes, great smile and awesome curly hair:).

      • Ashlie
        • June 20, 2014
        • 9:35 pm
        • Reply

        Her smile could melt the heart of Ebenezer Scrooge!!!!

        • Sabrina
          Sabrina
          • June 24, 2014
          • 4:37 pm
          • Reply

          This is true so we gotta keep her smiling! I have seen the unhappiest people light up from her flashing a big one.

  2. Sylvia
    • June 14, 2014
    • 9:57 pm
    • Reply

    We deal with the same issue. It is impossible to predict when a meltdown might happen, but our daughter is 15 and much too big to carry out when having one. She also gets violent and could be a danger to others. Sometimes we do choose to have a respite worker stay with her. Especially if we know she will be happier staying at home. However I do believe that she has the right to participate in public outings in public places just like everyone does.

    • Sabrina
      Sabrina
      • June 16, 2014
      • 8:06 pm
      • Reply

      It’s hard isn’t it? And it seems there are no easy solutions. Juliana had a big meltdown during our Father’s Day brunch. I pulled her aside until she got calm. Then we returned to our seat to finish the meal. Still, we were very proud of her recovery and after that she was just great. I like your idea of the respite worker. We haven’t done that yet, but it may certainly be an option down the road. So glad you stopped by Sylvia. I hope you’ll pass through again.

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