I’ve been meaning to post about last Saturday because it was a truly wonderful day. The best day in many, many, many days. I am still basking in the glow of Saturday (even through the horrid meltdown last night and the crankiness of this morning). Here’s why:
In the morning we went to the 2nd annual Special Olympics horse show so the Roc could “compete.” I had thought about making a social story for this event and even asked his instructor for pictures of the facility and of last year’s event. I never got around to making the social story so we looked at the event pictures on Friday night. We talked a lot about the fact that he would be riding a new horse at a new place, but his instructor would still be the same and he would do the same activities he does during lessons. We got there just as the opening ceremonies started so GC dropped us off and went to park the car. The Roc was immediately anxious about the crowd and so he ended up where he always does during times like those – on my back. (I wonder what I will do when he gets too big for piggy back rides?!) We watched the torch being lit and then went to find his riding instructor to get our instructions for the morning.
Once the Roc got his number and the time he would ride we took a little walk to an area less crowded and let the Roc do some hill climbing to burn off some of his anxiety.
Soon enough it was time to head over to the ring and wait for his turn to ride. Again the Roc rode on my back through the crowd and I worried a little about how he was going to do because he seemed so wound up.
I didn’t need to worry though. As soon as he got his helmet on he went off with Becca willingly,
and then he GRINNED the WHOLE time he rode!
Except for those moments each time he passed us and he yelled “Hi Mommy! Hi Daddy!”
And when he concentrated to stand as they went over the poles.
When he was done he stood on the podium to receive his medal from the police officer.
(He looked right into the police officer’s eyes after he got his medal and grinned that famous grin and we are cursing our too slow camera for we didn’t catch it! It’s time for a new camera.)
After he got his medal we left the event and headed across the border into PA to go apple picking. The Roc was very excited to go on a hayride so we did that first. He surprised us by not stimming with the hay, which is what he usually does whenever we go on a hayride. I think it may have something to do with the medal he insisted on wearing the rest of the day!
Once the hayride was over we jumped on the shuttle out to the apple orchards and the Roc helped pick the apples.
He was so pleased with himself and wanted to keep picking even when our bag was full. He shocked us by eating an apple with the skin on – something that never happens at home! He waited patiently for the shuttle back to the parking lot even though he had to “go” and told me “I want to pee on the grass right here.” He does look a little uncomfortable…
We ended the day by stopping at a Thai food restaurant for a late lunch and he did awesome in the restaurant. He was excited to point out all the different kinds of lights, the artwork on the walls, and did a running commentary on what the waitresses were doing.
On the ride home GC and I looked at each other and he said to me “This has been the best day. The best day in a long, long time.” The day was amazing because the Roc was happy throughout, he didn’t scream about anything, throw any tantrums, or whine about anything. He was happy. It was an especially good day for him.
More than all of the things the Roc did right on Saturday, I think that GC meant it was the best day since we received the diagnosis two years ago. We have each struggled in our own way to come to terms with autism and at the same time have watched the Roc change before our eyes. Two years ago we dealt with limited communication, many tantrums and much screaming on a daily basis, and we just couldn’t picture a day like Saturday. A day where we would do so many activities in one day. A day out as a family, making memories and having fun. A day where the Roc would be talking to us, describing what he was seeing. A day where he would transition so easily. A day where he would keep himself together all day. A day like Saturday.
Something I know for sure is that Saturday didn’t happen magically. We’ve all changed. The Roc is able to handle more change and is able to verbalize much more than he could two years ago. That is most definitely evident. But GC and I have changed too. We know what the Roc likes and doesn’t like. We know his limits and respect them. We’ve learned to heed the warning signs or deal with the consequences. Maybe most importantly we prepare as best we can and we keep trying. All of us.
Saturday was the best day.
I have no doubt we will have more of them.