All children need exposure to new experiences. For most people, it goes something like this:
Hey – let’s take the kids boating tomorrow.
For me, it’s more like this:
One year prior, make a goal to have a boating experience for son.
3 months prior to an actual boating event – ask friend that I know who has a boat if they would be willing to take my son for a boat ride. Select friend who is familiar with autism and knows that this boat ride is for HIM and not a pleasure cruise for the adults. We are just there to supervise and drive.
Send numerous private messages to arrange schedules because friend with boat also has a child with challenges as well as two other kids so – you know, life.
Change date for boat ride at least 3 times. Good thing I remember to not actually tell son about boat ride until I’m 100% sure of actual date/time.
In addition to inviting myself to friend’s boat, I demand she not bring her dog. I’m a great friend!!!
Pester friend about specific details of proposed boat ride to include: time to meet, where to meet, where to park, swimming or no swimming?, if swimming from boat – is there a boat ladder? Do we need to bring our own life jackets?
Scour friend’s facebook photo album for a picture of the actual boat so that son can create a visualization for boating day event.
Make mental note to find life jackets hiding somewhere in the garage.
Scout out the actual location ahead of time to determine 1. How long it will take to drive there, 2. What the parking situation looks like, 3. Take pictures on phone to help son understand the “plan” and decrease his anxiety around this amazing boating event that I’m putting together for his benefit.
Pester friend again about more details.
Make mental note to create Smart Story about boating day event.
Worry a bit about how this will turn out.
Make mental note to make real note about finding life jackets in the garage.
Spend 4 hours determining the perfect timing for doing the smart story. Too early and it will be the only thing talked about. Too late and the details won’t sink in. This is an art people!!!!!!!
Make mental note about food/beverages to bring. Don’t forget a towel!!!
Finally, lay all the worry down and trust that what happens will all be for the greater good. Learning happens through all experiences.
Don’t let fear keep you from experiencing life. And don’t wait for your child to reach some magical level of functioning before you feel comfortable going out and about and trying new things. Kids with neuro-developmental challenges are experiential learners. They NEED to do different things, in different ways. It’s not easy but it is always worth it.