Monday, June 6, 2011

Camping With C (Seeking, Avoiding, and Lovey)

You may have read my post on our camping trip but I wanted to do one just on C and our experience camping with him. We knew going into our adventure that we'd face challenges having to do with C's sensory seeking and avoiding issues so we were prepared for almost anything that could happen. And at home we have a very strict routine when it comes to bed time with C- not just from us setting routines but from C's need to have things just so- if we veer too far off course it can all unravel so fast. We have two choices in life with C- try and work with him and help him learn skills to be a bit flexible or stay home for the rest of our lives. The second isn't really an option because we want to experience the world and give that to our children, they seem to love the experiences too. (C's new thing the past few weeks is to ask to go "Bye", he loves to be out and about. Mostly its just the running but he doesn't mind were he runs.)

I don't know how exactly I'm going to write this out... I think I'll just talk about the experience and how it relates to the photos and throw in anything I missed at the end.

C's a runner- put on a straight safe path and he'll just go, until of course something catches his eye and he HAS to stop and investigate, or pick up a treasure. Try and get him moving before he's ready again and a meltdown will happen.

His treasures tend to be picked for a theme in his head. On this particular hike he choose dead leaves. Sometimes its sticks, rocks or flowers.

Running with a fresh group of leaves.

C spent a good few hours playing with the car doors. Open and close, open and close. And they had to be closed just right- it made it very difficult to unpack/pack the van, he'd get quite angry when we needed to leave the doors open. At one point he became stuck on the gas door- he would not leave it alone...DH ended up pulling out the duct tape and taping it shut just so C wouldn't break the door- C was trying to pull it off.

We know some of this is normal toddler investigation, but with C was a bit overload. Most toddlers, in my experience, will eventually loose interest and wonder away but C didn't and couldn't be distracted, unless we left the camp site.

He really wanted to go into the lake and loved it when he got in, until he realized there was SAND on the bottom. Then it was "Up Da, up!"

We weren't sure how he'd react to the sand at the beach but we had an idea from a recent trip to the park, where he wanted to take his shoes off but when he did get them off he wouldn't move and would keep stepping in an attempt to get his feet out of the sand.

At the lake he was fine up until we had to undress, which included socks and shoes, to go into the water. He wouldn't move, not one step and seemed utterly relieved when we put him on the towel out of the sand. I hope this doesn't seem cruel but we used this to our advantage for the few minutes we needed so DH could go change into his suit and I needed to nurse J- he sat C on a towel with his bucket and shovel and knew with confidence I'd be okay and C wouldn't bolt. But just as soon as  DH got back he tried to entice C to the lake for a swim. C took a few tentative steps and then stopped, insisting DH pick him up. (We checked the sand it was warm but not hot- we easily were able to walk without burning our feet, and the other children there were navigating it just fine.)  Da and C got to the waters edge where C wanted to get down- DH happily let him only to have to pick him up just a minute later, after C discovered the horrible stuff was on the bottom of the water too. This continued all weekend.

We of course brought beloved lovey (C's blanket) with us. Which C insisted on carrying EVERYWHERE (we were able to convince him to leave it in the car at the lake- so lovey wouldn't get wet!). Man did lovey pick up dirt!

We tried to keep C's bedtime routine as close to our home one as possible, all the way down to bringing his favorite stories for reading. But it was still off and took twice the amount of time it does at home- even without a nap that day.  He and I went into the tent and read his books, he didn't like the bed DH had set up for him so we had to rearrange the whole tent so his was in the corner. I tried to lay with him but being that's not how we do things at home he wasn't having it. I ended up sitting with him in the tent while he ran around for a bit. After he whacked me in the nose with the flashlight I insisted he lay down. There was some crying associated with that but after 15 minutes he settled enough to let me rub his back and legs, and he whimpered a bit as he dosed off. He slept most of the night without waking- he did call out a few times but was easily hushed back to sleep- very similar to at home.

C loved the caterpillars we came across (there were thousands! of them). He liked the feeling of them crawling all over him and he picked them up with ease- we had to be careful he didn't squish them and he ended up with a lot of pooh on his hands- which at first he hated but we showed him how to wipe them off on his top and then he was good (hey we were camping, we just made do! Haha!).

He continued to ask to go "bye" most of the time but when we asked if he wanted to go home he'd say "no", until shortly before we left- then "bye" was to go home. For the most part he seemed to enjoy himself and we had an "easier" time than we expected. There was a fair share of meltdowns but those came on hikes when he didn't want to move and we'd end up putting him in the back pack. And when we wanted him away from the car or fire.(Oh yeah! He loved the fire, would NOT leave it alone. He kept trying to touch it to see if it was really hot- he didn't seem to believe us when we told him. But this is something we have to watch- at home he'll play with things that hurt him and will get hurt but will go back and seek them out, like he Likes the pain or it's not as painful as he thinks. 2 examples of this behavior at home- He'll touch the oven when its on and hot and say "oww" and "hot" but will keep going back until his little hand is red. Or he'll grab a cloths pin- one with the spring- and put it on his finger, or lip, and proceed to say "Oww"' and indicate he wants help getting if off but then will do it over and over and over again- sometimes leaving it on till- he's capable of taking them off himself- his finger is purple and we take it away and hide it.)

So with time and practice (and maybe a better sleeping arrangement) we'll be able to make this a regular thing without much need for adjustments- or as he gets older it may get more difficult, as he gets more set in his ways. We'll see but we did it!

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