Saturday, May 21, 2011

May Edition eSpecially Parents: Paula's Story

My son, Tye, has occasional sensory issues that can overload his system. When this happens, my husband and I have witnessed Tye's very own, "Wolverine" manuever. Like Hugh Jackson's character in the X-men movie series, Tye will be walking with us in the mall and suddenly have the need to put his back flush against the wall and not move from that spot, looking around anxiously or with a huge grin on his face. 

We call it "the Wolverine" because in the first X-Men movie, when Hugh Jackson's character woke up in the lab at the school he rushed to the wall with his back to it looking around, trying to figure out what was going on.  We never know when it will pop up or just what will set him off.  Could be the lights, decorations, the acoustics...we haven't quite figured it out yet. 

Sensory issues have made life a bit interesting at times.  I never thought I would become a pretty good hairdresser. Tye can't tolerate the buzzer by his ears or nape of the neck well, or the cape for that matter. I did accidentally cut his ear lobe once - talk about guilt!  Boy does an earlobe bleed a lot.  In my defense, he moved.
Getting on an airplane is a definite so not happening.  I remember the last time we tried a few years ago, from JFK to Charlotte airport and back. I was flying with him, alone, to go see my husband.  Just getting through the check in and scanners was difficult.  Tons of different sounds, smells and other things to drive someone with sensory issues off the wall. 
Coming back from Charlotte airport, they let women and children board first.  Well, Tye had other plans.  We walked down the tunnel to the airplane while other families boarded, but Tye would not go past the area where the tunnel connected to the plane.  I told them to let the other passengers board. 
Passengers, flight attendants, the pilot... everyone tried to helpTye get on the plane, but no way would he allow it.  He protested like trying to get a cat into water.  At this point the whole flight was already boarded and they needed to leave.  Security came and saw the situation.  He overlooked protocol and let me call my husband on his cell to get his help.  My husband had to pick up my son with his legs and arms flailing around.  Luckily, we were seated in one of the first rows.  Once in and in his seat, Tye did great.  It was the getting on that was a real issue.  He just could not handle the jet fumes, the sounds in the tunnel and who knows what else.  I'm surprised we didn't get a round of applause when we finally got on that plane. 

I am so glad the security guard let my husband who did not have a ticket board the plane otherwise we would not have made that flight. You hear some stories about families who had really bad experiences with flight personnel or passengers on a plane when their disabled child is having issues that are just related to their disability not because of poor parenting or a badly behaved child.  I am glad, so far, I have not had to deal with too many ignorant, clueless or just plain mean people when my son has had issues that he can't control due to his autism. 

We drive when we travel anywhere now.  Makes it so much easier for us.  Tye's a great traveler by car.  We leave soon for a road trip up to NY - about a 10-12 hour drive, one way.  We are traveling with 2 dogs this time.  Let's see how that goes!

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eSpecially Parents is a monthly series featuring nine moms with amazing stories to tell. To catchup, read more here.

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