Friday, August 20, 2010

This Made Joey Laugh So Hard...

You may have guessed by now that Joey is having a major bout of anxiety and depression this summer. However, this made him laugh harder and freer than I have heard him giggle and squeal in months.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Crabby: The Beach, Part Three

Not every side attraction was a complete disaster. The ride to them, yes. The destination, not always. For example, we decided to take a ride to "North Ocean City" to see the Discoversea Shipwreck Museum (which is free!). Joey was not fooled. He knew we were driving, and it was longer than ten minutes. Chaos reigned all the way to Fenwick Island.

When we arrived, the museum is actually on the second floor of a schlock shop. We got a little nervous, and Joey's anxiety was almost overwhelming, as the shop was crammed with... schlock.

Then we managed to get upstairs, with much coaxing and promises of pirate gold. It's a darling little museum of items found in the area from shipwrecks. The labeling convinced me that the curators are either bad at labeling, or are not really sure what they have, but the objects are actually pretty decent. They also had quite a bit of information about actually collecting items and how underwater archaeology is done, including a really cool model showing what a shipwreck looks like compared to the boat exploring the wreck above. That kind of caught Joey's attention, enough to keep him in the room. Andy was fascinated (he's discovered a love for Time Team, too. That's my boy!)

Andy spent a lot of time looking at the objects, including this "mermaid" (which he knew right away wasn't real, smart boy). He liked all the sparklies (I did mention this child is my son, right? Like there was any doubt now...) and the pirate stuff, since he had been on something of a pirate kick and even on a pirate adventure (to be blogged about later). He wasn't quite as interested in the china and pots as I was, but the coins and jewelry rocked his world.

As I prefaced this, the trip was not a complete loss. Although mildly distracted by the shipwreck model, what really caught Joey's eye was the baby blue crab and fish in a small, floor-level tank, He plopped himself down in front of that sucker and stayed there happily for half an hour, while Andy explored the museum. Then he happily went downstairs and picked out toys and a bag of tumbled stones with his brother, and complained about the ride all the way back to the hotel.

He liked that tank so much, when some of the stones got broken on the hard tile floor and the boys were antsy in gray weather, we actually drove back and went again!

We also had a much-anticipated yearly visit to Hooper's Crabhouse. This is just across the bridge, so no long ride to complain about; and JOey had been talking about wanting to go from the time we announced the date we would be arriving at Ocean City. Strangely, neither of them ate much. Andy staunchly refused to eat crab (wait, did I say this was my child? How can any child of mine not eat crab?), except the legs, since he could smash them with the hammer (ok, I'll still claim him). Joey got too frustrated to pick one. However, he did not refuse any crab meat offered him until he got too full to eat anything at all. That didn't actually take that long; anxiety slows Joey's stomach way down.

So crabby boy because something of a theme through the trip, to the chorus of "Let's go back to the hotel!" (said in a sing-song, "Let's go to camp now!" sort of voice). Oh, and those morning trips to the surf? The first morning we went out and the sun hit his eyes, and he he had to walk all the way back to the hotel room to use the restroom almost immediately after reaching the waves, that was the end of those.

So how did we manage to get him out of the hotel room? Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Best Laid Plans: The Beach, Part Two

Since we were heading to the beach for a whole week, JoeyAndyDad and I did some lightning research online for things to see and do besides our usual triangle of sand, pool, and boardwalk. In the last few years, we had expanded to include Assateague, a boatride, and yummy dinner at Hooper's, but basically, we did the sand, pool, boardwalk thing. Hey, its the beach, right?

So we put together a list of fun stuff, and set it to the beat of a schedule: breakfast, beach, ride to something fun, lunch, rest, something fun like the boardwalk, pool, dinner, more pool. We found some pirate museums, a pirate boat adventure, and a new nature center to check out. We even had some breathings of trying to visit Niksmom and Nik. I thought the boys might also like another trip to the Salisbury Zoo. We all know planning is everything, right? So we were so ready.

Joey hasn't been riding in the car well, so we thought of that, too. It's a four hour drive to the beach, so we pulled out the stops: videos, his CD player, plenty of books, toys, notebooks and pens. Hey, if it will get him through four hours, thirty minutes should be a cinch, right? I mean, the fact that I had been trouble even getting so far as Grandma's all summer was of no consequence at all, right? We had made it to Jamestowne before Summer Scholars began, after all!

So what happened?

Well, first, the Bay Bridge happened. This made a four-hour trip into an eight-hour slog. We went through our bag tricks, but the trauma of the long ride lingered. Whenever a ride was suggested, Joey insisted he wanted to stay in the room. In fact, we had a hard time getting him from the room even to go on to the beach or into the pool on enough occasions, we were afraid he might even be sick.

When we did manage to get him into the car, the results were, at best, mixed.

We managed to pry Joey from the car in Salisbury, after much complaints that he didn't want to go, and that it was too far. And that nobody likes him, and he doesn't want to go.

He showed mild interest in a couple of animals, then insisted on returning to the car. So JoeyAndyDad took him back to the car, and Andy and I roamed about, looking at animals and chatting. Then we discovered the little nature center, and managed to pry Joey out of the car to touch a frog. Hey, wouldn't you get out of a car to touch a frog?

We managed to lure him into the zoo some by promising him a look at otters. Joey loves otters. However, this time he was unimpressed. He did look at a few things- then wanted to go back to the car. So the zoo visit was over for him.

I didn't allow that to dampen Andy's visit, however. We saw the animals, some of them twice so he could get a closer look without the chorus of "Let's go back to the car, now!" Andy thought the flamingos were fabulous, and very very pink. He thought his friend Kylie would like them. He also was fond of the bobcats, though I didn't get any good photos of them. We also saw a black jaguar, which was awesomely beautiful.

It is a lovely little zoo, lots of shade, some nice benches placed around and about, and even these wooden walkways through parts of the exhibits. The focus is mostly on American animals, though there are a few exotic things like the jaguar (OK, South American... no big tigers or lions or anything). There were llamas, bears, otters, and peacocks. OK, India, too. But colonists had peacocks, so there. They have a cool exhibit with beavers and wood ducks, too. h, and a fancy wolf exhibit, though once again, we didn't see a single wolf.

The nature center was small, but air conditioned, and they had a turtle shell to crawl through. They had lots of turtles and snakes to look at, oh and frogs. They also had a young lady who would bring things out to touch (like the frog), or happily tell you all about any animal there in great and fascinating detail. When she wasn't talking, she had a chair to one side to sit. JoeyAndyDad noticed that she liked to rock. Yes, there really are wonderful options for people with ASD, if you find their interests and give them the opportunity.

The Delmarva Discovery Center was less successful.

Andy loved it. He got to look at real horseshoe crabs, and there were aquariums of fish, and a model of a steamboat to walk through, and a model of a Native American house, and trains to play with and... and... it is an impressive little center. I recommend it.

However, Joey got through the door and ran screaming through the building with me hot on his heels. I finally cornered him in a back room (no, I didn't actually catch him, I cornered him), and we gathered ourselves together. The ride was too long. The place was scary. He was a ball of anxiety and frustration. He wanted to go back to the car. He made a break for the car, and again, I was on his heels, so we managed to cross the parking lot safely, and get into the car with Grandma.

I then wandered through the museum taking photos of the exhibits and Andy having fun with his Daddy: touching the crabs and watching them swim, looking at different seashells, exploring a cool computerized globe thing and learning about satellite launching, and even looking at a reconstructed hut for duck decoy carving.

I then took my camera out to the car and showed Joey what was in the museum, the cool stuff he could see and do, to see if i could take the edge off the unknown factor and get him to come have some fun. He was finally convinced by the beaver lodge.

After all, I said he could go in it. I wasn't lying. He was happy to go in, but unfortunately scratched his arm on a stick on his way out, and it was kind of downhill from there. Even the big fishtanks were no use. The horseshoe crabs spooked him rather than interesting him. The big boat was overwhelming.

He did ply some with the trains, but then he wanted to go back to the car. And back to the hotel. And back to Ocean City. Because we were now "far from Ocean City."

Next segment: more successful ventures. Though not by too much.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Arrival: The Beach Part One

There is no place on earth Joey loves better than the beach. He looks forward to our beach trip every year with enthusiasm. Say "beach" to Joey, and if he hears you, he smiles. So the boys' grand arrival at the beach was, as always, a hit. First we put our feet in the sand, no camera so we could just enjoy and not worry about the camera getting wet.

Then the next day, it was time to hit the boards- and Trimper's, of course! The boys were so excited- better than Christmas!

Andy's favorite is the fishing the game, which is kind of a fancy version of pick-up-a-duck. Getting a stuffed toy every time helps its popularity, but fishing really clinches it. Now that we are home, Andy wants to set up a carnival of his own, and a fishing game is to be the centerpiece. (Stay tuned).

Joey also joined in the fun of fishing, and caught two sharks, so he got a bigger prize. Joey prefers the rides. Andy prefers the games.

Joey was so happy, the noise of the rides and the people were tolerable, if not exactly comfortable. Joey has had a huge uptick in noise sensitivity. Even at home, he prefers the TV set to a volume I can barely hear, and is increasingly unhappy about going into places that used to be only minor irritations, such as Walmart or the grocery store. I had his earplugs along, just in case, but he was fine without them.

We got the boys wristbands, so they could ride as often as they liked. They both would take several spins on their favorites, and tried a few others. The roller coasters are now a great favorite, even with Andy.

One problem with Trimper's is a lack of shade. They have benches, but almost all of them are in bright, sunny locations, and are therefore of limited use. To get cooled off, the best option is to slip into the indoor section, where the kids' rides and the carousel are, and sit on a bench near the door to take advantage of cross breeze.

One of the rides the boys tried was a pirate ship that was something like a funhouse. You go in and it rocks, and there are little sections of things to walk through, like big rubber bands or moving floors, and on either end are little rooms with fake pirate scenes in them. Then you go up onto the deck and slide down a big moving slide. Andy wandered in while Joey was taking an extra turn on the roller coaster, but he decided it was too scary and he didn't like it.

The boys then played games and won lots of prizes. Joey's favorite games are the water pistols- he seems to beat Mommy a lot at those. Andy like the frogs ponds and Whack a Mole, both of which require you to beat on things. Hmmmm...

While Andy was taking a turn at a game, Joey decided to check out the pirate ship. In he went, and I directed my attention to the slide, as Andy had not been in the ship long, and I figured JOey would probably run right through, too. However, the film of them sliding down stuff is often nice, they like slides.

Only he never appeared.

I started getting nervous. He had been in there a while. Alan had the brilliant idea of asking Andy to go look for his brother, even though he thought the ride was a little scary. A minute later, he came down the slide and said Joey wasn't there.

Baffled, I bought the required tickets and went in myself. Sure enough- no Joey. Can you say, "panic"?

I came back out to see Allan leading Joey over to Grandma and Andy (having that extra set of hands is a godsend, I can tell you)- he had decided he was hot, and gone in to the shady indoor section to cool off, smart little guy. Nearly gave us a heart attack, but we were cheering that he was recognizing his needs and thinking of ways to meet them, rather than melting down. And besides, he was OK, and we now had him.

We all went in and let the boys ride the carousel to their hearts' content. Joey rode it six times. Andy went four, then wandered over the the bumper cars (the kid ones- he's really in-between the kiddie ones and the big ones, but he's definitely NOT ready for the big ones).

When Joey finally decided to change animals, he gave his giraffe a hug and kiss.

Andy first rode a deer, then fell in love with the sea dragon. We were impressed with him voluntarily riding it. Remember, two summers ago, we couldn't get him on anything at all! Carousels are actually a lot more exciting than they look- the speed and passing all the lights and colors and people, it can be really something.

Joey rode it until he almost fell asleep. And so ended our first Trimper's adventure. But don't worry. We went back.