The wife decided we should take the kids to the circus this past Saturday.
Setting aside that I’m not a fan of the circus – I just find them boring, I don’t have anything against the circus – we’ve avoided taking the kids to a lot of these kinds of events since we don’t know how the Monster is going to respond. Yes, we’ve taken him out to the Science Center, or to other places where there are going to be crowds, but the circus (or any show) is really very different – it’s a sustained period where he’s going to be in a seat in a darkened room, where a meltdown of any kind will disturb others around us. So I get very hesitant when we’re talking about this kind of thing…
Going to an event these days is a huge production. The Monster’s not as picky about eating as he was, so we didn’t need to take a long a huge supply of snacks and the like, but we did take their cups and sneak a juice box into the bag so that we could refill as needed for them. We took the light rail down, but left the iPad behind for a change so we’d have fewer things to haul and/or lose, and he was very good about going through security (though headphones were required for the noise in the hall at the arena).
Because we got to the arena early, there were still pre-show activities going on down on the floor, and we wandered down to meander through it. Most of them were things that the kids weren’t all that interested in – the bounce house, the one thing they were, cost money and we told them that they couldn’t do it, since they have plenty of other opportunities to do bounce houses elsewhere. They did seem to enjoy getting closer to the elephants, acrobats and clowns for the time they were permitted… and before we were sent back to our seats for the show to start, the Monster even danced along a bit while the performers were helping the younger set get their wiggles out.
And then the show began.
I’ll admit that I was wrong, in the end – a morning performance of the circus seemed to go well with us. The Monster was able to sit and attend for most of it without too many problems, and he didn’t cause a disturbance to the people around us (most of whom were coworkers of some friends whose office was selling the tickets). He seemed very interested in the few animal acts that they had, and was at least quiet during most of the rest of it. Because his narrative language skills are still so deficient, he had to be guided through discussions of what he saw, the kinds of acts that were part of the two hours, but… at least it didn’t seem like he hated it.
I’m still not sure myself if we’d be up yet for taking him to Disney On Ice or something like that, but at least it’s a step past our fears about going out to big, public events where we have to make him sit for a few hours…
We has a 3 years old non verbal son with ASD and he does not like to sit in just one spot. This makes it very hard for us to take him to the movies and other shows with us. He doesn’t like crowd and loud noises and so when we go to a family function at my wife’s parent’s place he often has a meltdown (my wife has a huge extended family and around 50 people gather for even the smallest of affairs). But recently he has shown some improvement where he just walks up and down throughout the movie theatre (if the seats are empty) or just watches his favourite videos (surprise eggs being unwrapped) on youtube. We are trying to reduce his phone time, but its quite hard because he throws tantrums when we take the phone away.
It was really nice to read about your experience and felt like you guys have a really nice time. All the best for more such family outings in the future !
I find that, by and large, I pick my battles about where I push the Monster with giving up electronics or other coping mechanisms. Not that it’s “easier” if he’s given them, but more that if he’s not getting something out of the experience we’re trying to give him, it’s better that he get something out of *something*. But I’m glad that it sounds like he’s finding coping mechanisms to make some scenarios work!