The Happiest Place on Earth

Disneyland is such a happy place.

Until the reality of autism sets in; especially being surrounded by thousands of perfectly normal children the Doodle's age.
Some people come to Disneyland to escape reality--here our reality is even more real. It hits me like a ton of bricks.
It hurts my heart to watch him in over-stimulation-mode where he gets so upset and is locked inside himself with no way out. Any type of reason goes out the door. I look around at all these children having so much fun and wonder what the Doodle is really feeling. Is he truly having fun? I mean, seriously enjoying himself. Or are we silently torturing him with all the people, lights, noises, choices, changes and fun-overload?
Maybe he's happier and most comfortable in his own environment.

But, he has his moments. He laughs and giggles which makes me think he's having fun. But then we go from laughing to manic-panic in moments. He's become really bad with transition. We had a rough 8 hour ride in the car; which is long and miserable for everyone so I can only imagine what it must be like for a Doodle. He barely slept, maybe a half an hour.

When we got to the Disneyland Hotel it was beyond bedtime but he refused to go to sleep. He was in a new place and wound up after being couped up in the car for so long--he went a little crazy in the room and we thought we might get evicted.

When I booked this vacation almost a year ago, we were in a different place. The Doodle's behavior and autism wasn't this relentless. Now all I can think is what was I thinking? What did I really think this would be like when we got here? It all seemed so romantic, taking a family vacation here. Was I living in Neverland? Or have things just gotten that much worse? I will tell you, it's a lot of money to spend to figure out we don't belong here.

You might think it's hard to be in a bad mood when you're in Disneyland, especially during the Holiday season with all of the decorations and music, but you can cut Jim's stress level with a knife; worrying about the Doodle and watching his regression before his very eyes.

Regardless, the Doodle had a busy day at Disneyland...he spent the day with Grammy and Papa on the rides and I got to enjoy spending the day with Jim and Jimmy going on fast and fun grown up rides. We met up around 4:30 at the Merry Go Round, which he loved. He went on it several times. In a row. He liked it so much he didn't want to get off. When the ride stopped it was full blown autistic melt down time.

We went and met up with our favorite cousins to watch the Santa Parade. We had to find a spot and wait a while--there were so many people. Some of these people get there on Main Street at 3:00 to nab a spot for a 5:30 Parade; now that's what I call taking your parade planning seriously. We ended up with a great spot on Main Street with a front row view and he was pretty good during the Parade. He got a little restless but liked the dancing characters.
I can't help but be bummed out.
There's lots of different kinds of autism, the spectrum is vastly wide. There are so many different degrees and types of autism spectrum disorders but I've decided there's two major kinds of autism--and neither of them of fun. There's the stereotypical kind of autism where the child might withdraw, sit in a corner, spin, entertain themselves for hours, not notice if you come or go, maybe show no interest, emotion or affection. And then there is OUR kind of autism. The crazy kind. The can't entertain himself, play with toys, transition from one thing to another, the bad sleeper, the overstimulated and severe OCD and ADHD child. The can't sit still or ever be content child. And while they are both heart breaking, I think OUR autism is the harder of the two. It becomes so clear when we try to do something outside of our "box". Something normal like eating out, going to the mall, venturing off for a family vacation or going to Disneyland that people with normal children and normal lives take for granted.

I used to take it for granted.

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