It has always been important to try and ensure that Dylan is involved with outdoor activities as much as possible. I believe it’s been this mission that has been invaluable for him, his siblings and us as parents. There was a time just after he was diagnosed when we knew that he was showing behaviours that were very noticeable and not ‘normal’ But we had no idea how to cope with the questions and stares from members of the public. So we stayed in. We hid and it was a real conscious effort to ensure that we got back out again. Since then we’ve made sure we’ve always gone on holiday. On an aeroplane. We go to concerts. To the theatre. We go shopping. To the beach. Loud busy places where people notice Dylan. And we deal with it. We smile. We acknowledge the stares like it doesn’t matter and with a carefree ruffle of his hair we move on.
Last weekend was a challenge for us all. We went to 7 hour concert with 80000 people in attendance. Loud music. Lights. Fireworks. Cramped seating. Nowhere quiet we can take him if it gets too much. A long loud cramped train journey home once he’s had enough. Guess what, he loved it! We took some ear defenders which he has never used before. I never liked the look of ear defenders and have consciously avoided them. It was a concern that everyday use would result in Dylan becoming more isolated but for an exceptional event like this it was important to give him the option. He did spend some time without them listening to Jess Glynn but wore them the majority of the time. Everyone saw. Who takes a kid to a concert and puts headphones on? The looks felt very public, usually we would smile and walk off, leaving the looks behind and moving on with what we are doing, here there wasn’t that option. We had to sit with the obvious feeling of people looking. There in the middle of a busy stadium it dawned on me that people were looking, but that was just it; these were looks and not stares. I relaxed and enjoyed the day with the family. Dylan was certainly happier having the sensory prediction of the ear defences. Throughout the day/night we used his IPad to give him the choice of staying for the show or going home so we could ensure he was okay with everything going on and we lasted from 3pm till 9pm in the end! Throughout the show he would put them on and take them off. He used hand driers in the toilets which had *always* been a problem. He used them at points on the train on the way home; they definitely got him through the whole day which enabled to little ones to enjoy the day too.
Sunday was another day out starting with lunch out and then onto Autism friendly showing of Roald Dahls ‘Matilda’ at the theatre. We have attended a couple of these disability awareness shows. Basically you are allowed to get up and make noise through the show without ‘do you know how how much I paid for this ticket and if you can’t be quiet you should leave’ mentality. The hand dryers were switched off in the toilets and there were loads of theatre staff that showed us where the quiet area was if we needed to leave the show midway we could sit in the quiet area and watch the live feed on the screen there. Dylan enjoyed the show and once again reached for the ear defenders due to the loud singing and the unexpected effects. He managed this; he appeared to enjoy it in places. The show was very loud and the acting quite dark in places but everyone enjoyed it before another train journey home.