We’re back from a week-plus away from home, first at a family event and then for a week down the Shore. (As anyone with children will remind you – when you have kids, it’s not a vacation but a trip.) Which means it’s time for me to get back into the swing of things, especially as the Monster returns to school this morning.
But having ten straight days with the Monster gives me a different view into his life and how he experiences the world.
When folks ask me if the Monster is sensory-seeking or sensory-adverse, it’s a bit difficult to give a meaningful answer. He’s not really one or the other, but rather both in different contexts. He loves fireworks, for instance, and will happily sit through a nine-inning baseball game if there’s the promise of such afterwards. He likes to dance, and loves music, and he usually enjoys going to the playground…
But on the other hand, as he’s getting older, I’m noticing more and more that the Monster’s bothered by the sounds of the ambient environment. We’ve had headphones for him for a few years (we’re on pairs #2 and 3 now), and I’d say that he spent a good seventy percent of the time on this trip wearing them. If he wasn’t wearing the noise-dampening headphones, he was wearing the pair in the car that’s from the entertainment system, which seemed to do the trick as well, even if I question whether his were on or not. The current pair got worn just about any time that we felt he could safely wear them, meaning even in the pool, at the amusement parks and for most of the time on the beach. (Basically, we only forced him to take them off when we went in the ocean proper, and then it took a good while for him to acclimate to the volume of the waves, covering his ears for a good while before he flipped over to being more sensory-seeking about the sand and water.)
This isn’t a problem, per se, since there are certainly enough people with Autism who do function this way – we had the experience at Water Country of having a gentleman walk up to us to say hi and mention how his son copes at a slightly older age (earbuds with softer podcasts playing). On the other hand, I do keep worrying about how he’ll experience the world, and whether or not it’s just becoming increasingly overwhelming for him as he’s getting older… and especially as he does get bigger, how folks’ll respond to his responses when things do become too intense for him.