So we took the guys to the Aquarium in Baltimore. I love the aquarium- and its gotten so huge! I used to love to just wander through the exihibits about the beaches, or the coral reef, it was so beautiful and soothing. Of course, that was when it was six bucks to get in and we were often the only people we saw. Now its $24 to get in and the place is packed at 9 am.
Andy had a grand time. We started off with Joey being with Dad and Andy being with Mom. That lasted about ten minutes. Andy loved each and every exhibit- he could have spent hours staring at manta rays, or at a live crab, or at a clown fish in an anemone. Joey had a bit more of a problem.
Imagine you are someone who is used to light, bright places with very few people, and get nervous if you can't see Mom and Dad. Now, imagine you are shoved into a very small, dark room full of strange people and watery, bubbly noises. Sound scary? Place autism on top of that. You can imagine how my day went.
It could have been worse. He loved the escalators. At each level, he would freak out at the beginning, and end up a screaming heap on the floor; I would sit with him a few minutes, maybe get him to look at a fish. Then we'd have to move. Start the process over. Repeat at least twice, when we could finally reach the escalator. Boy instantly transforms into angel. Get off escalator, and enter a cramped, dark room. Repeat for four levels. Now we're at the top of the coral reef. I probably should have taken him into the Rain Forest, where it was lighter; but my brain calculated open spaces with lives things and wild noises, crammed with people, next to a fairly quiet, mostly abandoned coral reef exihibit, and I made my choice. At each level, we had renewed meltdown. Repeat four times.
Fortunately, he liked sitting in the cafe, and he liked the frogs a little better- but he was really tired by then, and in his "no-no-no" mode. We did better with teh dolphin show, but it was the worst, most boring dolphin show I had ever seen. We finally got out in one peice.
Andy was sad to go. He had melted down when we first stepped into teh street from the parking garage. He had never been in a city like that before, and the tall buildings were just overwhelming. We let him sit for a minute with some assurances, and he got over it. Joey doesn't get over it.
Just when we think he's doing so so well, we have a day like this- a reminder that he may never be like other kids, running from tank to tank, poking fingers at fish and squealing with glee, then dragging Mom and Dad to the next tank. I don't even want to discuss the dirty looks I got. Outing like this remind me why other people with autistic kids don't go on outings like this. I still don't see how he's supposed to learn to deal with crowds if he's never in one.