Saturday, May 29, 2010

Disneyland with a Sensory Kid

In late April, Mike and I spent a week in Disneyland with the two girls.  Spring Break for our school district is the very last week of April, so its the perfect time to go.  The weather there is warm, but not too hot, and the vast majority of schools have already completed their spring vacations, so the place is relatively empty.

In retrospect, I will admit that I didn't expect our vacation to be particularly successful from a parent standpoint.  I knew that Tiersten would be over-the-moon all day every day, but Jennica?  I was worried about a whole host of things.  How do you feed a gluten-free/dairy-free/egg-free child in Disneyland?  How do you keep her from getting overwhelmed to the point of panic in pretty much the most sensory stimulating place on Earth?  I had visions of her ricocheting through the park like a ping-pong ball, seeking some sense of order in the chaos.  I also expected to return to the hotel each afternoon for long naps, thinking that she would need the "down time" in quiet place to re-organize herself.

I honestly planned to be VERY very organized, which helps her to feel organized.  With Grant's jaw surgery the week before we left and spending three days with him in Seattle, plus the first few days of recovery when we got home, I foolishly thought that I would have time to put together some picture schedules and other helpful stuff between running errands for Grant on the couch.  It didn't work out that way!  I was far busier than I expected taking care of Grant!  (Whaddayaknow......getting painkillers, more ice, and food for a 14-year-old boy on demand was work!)

So....on Saturday, we hugged our teenagers farewell and headed to Seattle with the girls.  (The boys went to Disneyland a few years ago and honestly had no desire to return this soon.  Go figure!)  Of course, as I had expected, Jennica was wound higher than a kite.  But she was in control!  This was only the first of many surprises to come.

I'm not going to bore you all with a blow-by-blow account of our six days in Disneyland.  I'll just suffice it to say that Jennica did fantastic!  She ate incredibly well, and we were able to keep her full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and other "standards" of her usual diet.  She hopped out of bed each morning ready to roll, and we stayed in the park every day ALL DAY!  She rode rides that I never thought she would be willing to attempt, and she came off of them smiling!  ???!!!???  Mike and I conferred several times each day, exchanged thousands of shocked looks over the top of her head, and WE HAD FUN!  (For parents of SPD children, you know how precious those words are....WE HAD FUN!  On a vacation.  For more than 10 minutes between tantrums.  WOW!)

I will admit that Jennica crashed for about 5 days after we returned home.  She slept.  And she slept.  And she slept some more.  Her teachers at school reported borderline behaviors that they hadn't seen in months.  We were briefly worried that Splash Mountain might have jarred her wiring loose or something, and we might have lost some of the progress that she's worked so hard to gain.  But she finally got rested up and the SPD has again receded to controllable levels.  Wahoo!

Eighteen months ago, I would never have attempted a trip to Disneyland with this child.  I would have rather had pulled my toenails off with pliars than to go through the effort, moment-by-moment, of dealing with my daughter in that environment.  (Heaven only knows.....we could barely survive 20 minutes in a grocery store without a tantrum.)  

How far we've come!!! 

1 comment:

Alysia said...

Hurray for you and your family! and congratulations on having fun! That is so huge and so important. Awesome!