The local Autism Society chapter here sponsors a monthly ‘social outing’, and this month’s outing was to a roller rink. (This is not news to those who follow my tweet feed, @DadEnoughBlog.)
Now… the wife and I probably haven’t been on regular roller skates in about fifteen to twenty years, and the kids have never been on them. But, there’s a few things about going roller skating that are probably good for social adaptation, or at least for trying out something in an environment that’s all about sensory stimulation:
- Motion – obviously, being on wheels, the entire experience is about being in motion in a different way than usual. Plus, there’s the different textures underfoot, from carpeting to tile to wood.
- Light-levels – the roller rink had changing light levels throughout the event, different levels of darkness and light that were going to play havoc with how the kids related to their environment
- Sound – roller rinks are loud. There’s really no way to put it other than that – loud music, loud PA announcements, and the sound of the skates constantly underneath everything…
So either way, it was going to be interesting. ASBC had arranged for us to have access an hour before everyone else, so we were already situated and skating when regular patrons started coming in.
As I’ve stressed before, the Monster isn’t really sensory adverse – he’s more sensory seeking than anything… except that this was an environment that was sufficiently loud for him that it flipped his switch. And of course, as always, we forgot to bring his headphones, so that was a problem for a while until we got him distracted with getting the skates on.
Our first trip around the rink was not very successful. It’s a lot harder than I remember to stay aloft on skates, and in his case… well, the Monster still was not quite getting the concept of ‘glide’ down, wanting to walk in the skates instead. It was after we got a support frame for him that he started to at least be able to handle it on his own, even if it was really more walking-and-leaning-on-the-frame than true skating.
I’m not really sure whether or not he enjoyed it, since getting the information out of him is somewhat akin to pulling teeth and somewhat less productive than doing so. He didn’t seem adverse to the experience, which is a good thing when one considers that we might want to try him in adaptive hockey this fall, and it’s a lot of the same skills (and quite a few different ones, given the differences between roller and ice skating). As things go, though, only time will tell with a repeat visit.