Sunday, October 19, 2014

Autism Never Takes a Vacation

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't know what I don't know until I suddenly know it.

My husband had business in San Francisco, one of our favorite places.  My boys didn't have school on Thursday and Friday, so we thought it was a great opportunity to show the boys the city, see some of our closest friends, and make some family memories during a long weekend cross-country trip.  Sounds easy, right?

Not so easy.

We arrived Wednesday at 11pm west coast time.  We were all tired tired tired.

Fast forward a couple of fun, busy, touristy days and we go to Palo Alto to stay with one of my closest friends and his family for the last day of our trip.  Saturday morning we set up our plans to see my friends' world that I had heard about so often.  The town of Palo Alto, Stanford, and finally Google, where my friend works.  

On the way to Google, TJ tells us how tired he is and that he just wants to go back to our friends' house.  Sean and I say to him, "TJ, we are almost done.  Let's try our best to try new things before we leave tonight, ok?"

Minutes later when we arrive, TJ is "asleep" and not responding.

Now I admit I felt frustrated, and lost my patience.  I said out loud, "He's faking because he doesn't want to go in."

"I'M NOT FAKING!!!" he yells.

We ask him to get out of the car with the rest of us and although he does, I immediately know, this is not good.  The only way this can go is south, and now all I want to do is avoid a complete meltdown.

As we walk up to the Google offices, TJ loudly says that he is done walking.  Sean tries to prod him along but he is not having it.  Sean says he will stay outside with TJ as the rest of us go in.  As I walk away TJ screams, in the busy courtyard of Google, "YOU'RE A BITCH MOM!"

I kept walking.

Every time something like this happens my heart breaks a little.  I hate to see my boys suffer in any way.  I wasn't necessarily embarrassed, as my friend is like family to me, but it hurt that my boy was struggling.

I felt like I had failed him.

Long story short (too late?), we finished up our visit, said goodbye to our dear friends, and took the red eye flight back home that night.

While I am thrilled that we can travel, and that TJ can tolerate planes and time differences, I have learned that maybe trips with time changes are best used over longer periods of time, rather than over a long weekend.  While he is tolerant of travel, he still has autism, and asking him to be present while his body clock is messed up is not the best way to go.

I have also learned that any lesson I can learn about my sweet boy, as he grows and changes and experiences the world, is a good lesson.  Tough or not.  I can't expect to leave autism behind just because we are on vacation.

Live and learn - him and me.  Always. 


  1. I agree as the parent of a child on the spectrum that autism is always with them - but I also think that if you don't push them a bit the won't grow as much as they might otherwise. That last day was a bit hard, but life isn't always going to be what we want and autism or not our kids have to learn how to handle these situations. Thanks for sharing a day in the life.

  2. Thank you so much for your comment! I completely agree with you...pushing them to be a bit uncomfortable is so important. Thanks again!

  3. My brother wasn't diagnosed with Aspergers until age 13, and so when he was finally diagnosed my mom stopped pushing him, I think because she felt guilty that they hadn't figured it out sooner. Now he's 21 and only leaves his room for meals and church, other than that he's lost in his world on the computer. Keep challenging him.

    1. Thank you for your story. And thank you for the encouragement. All my best - to you, and your brother.