Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seizures and ASD Part II The Airport!

The Journey

Most of us have no need to think about the dangers people with ASD face in the world. City streets, amusement parks, malls and airports are real life obstacle courses fraught with real dangers from strangers, cars, crowds, other people’s food, signs, emergency exits, loud noises, signs, lines all creating unwanted excitement. As a result, this parent lives on high alert when she leaves the house with Nicky.

The night before we were set to catch a flight to a Sacramento hospital, I fed him a big dinner, before he went NPO for 14 hours. I was anxious as I imagined the morning food tantrums, and checked the list of what to pack: a backpack of activities for the plane, puzzles, word search books, video's, DVD Player, DVD's, markers, snacks, Leapster, books, medicines and a little clothing. Anything to keep him calm and engaged!

Our day started with little miracles; Nicky was in a good mood and Evyn woke up on time. Nicky was easily lead out the door excited by the knowledge that the hospital will be stocked with his drug of choice...video's!

The Airport: Nicky doesn't respond well to rules he is not familiar with or verbal commands that require an immediate response, like "Stop!", making airports nerve racking for me. We hit the airport and within minutes he was happily seated doing a word search, a great activity for any of our kids who have a passion for letters and words. Next we sailed through the line to board, took off our shoes, and moved toward the security check point, when suddenly Nicky bolted. He ran away from the line and past the TSA agents and through the X ray machine. My heart raced as he ignored the agents’ request that he stop. Sensors began to beep and a TSA agent called "Stop. Come Back Here". Nicky didn't respond. The agent's voice escalated and I could see the nervous uncertainly in his eyes. I leaped forward, blocked by another agent who could tell something was happening, and calmly said "He doesn't get it. Please, let me call him?. It's his belt, it must be his belt. I'll remove it." I called Nicky and he readily came back - jumping, flapping and grunting. The agents calms down and now all he was attracting were stares. I removed his belt and we walked quietly through the machine. I could breath again.

By the time we landed in Sacramento Nicky was hungry, agitated and repeating over and over "French fries and chicken please". We got off the plane and headed to baggage claim. This was the longest journey from plane to baggage claim EVER. It looked like every fast food restaurant on the planet lined our route! What a site, me moving through the airport with a sad, hysterical, kicking screaming, crying kid begging for food. To the untrained eye I must of looked like a child abuser, but there was nothing I could do. None of my great behavioral strategies were working and I was reduced to practically sitting on him to keep him from rushing food counters and people's plates. And yes, all the while acting clam and letting the disapproving looks from strangers bounce off of me.

It was with great relief that I settled into a taxi, away from the dangers of fast food and visions of Nicky stealing someone’s French fries. Now all I had to do was pay, that we didn’t pass any golden arches on the way. Nicky is so hungry and cranky he might attack the driver or try and leap out of the taxi!

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