The Good, The Bad, and The Sheer Desperation of Trying to Include My Special Needs Son

In my last posting, I brought up the “ah-ha” moment when I realized my son probably did want to be included, but struggled with it constantly. There are many ways my son plays with the family, but there are three times as many activities that are difficult to include him in. Recently, I’ve been working on that, with good, bad, and desperate results.

Last weekend, Eddie’s sister had a two-day basketball tournament. Eddie and I decided to go, and it included an overnight at a hotel. What we’ve learned this season is that Eddie doesn’t like loud, unpredictable cheering. Every time a team scores, he goes completely crazy. Yelling, hitting, kicking, stomping, and waving his arms in the air. Knowing this, I thought I was prepared.

I had headphones, snacks, and we sat by the door, with no alleviation of his auditory pain. So, after the first half of the game was through, we went outside. We had to make it through one more game, and I again had a plan. I sat him just outside the door in the hallway with snacks and headphones again. Then, I could stand in the gym and watch the game to support Molly.

That worked, almost the whole time. In the last quarter of the game, they started vacuuming the halls…of course. The vacuum is his arch nemesis. I saw him moving as fast as he could towards the gym and I knew something was amiss. We spent the end of the game sandwiched between a cheering crowd and a roaring vacuum. You can imagine how that went!

Luckily, when the game was through, we were able to hit up the pool at the hotel. This, Eddie loves…most of the time. That love diminishes when the pool is full of screaming children. He managed to still have fun, but the noise-cancelling headphones were a must.

Today, Molly and her friend had an activity for kids who were siblings of children with autism. We dropped off the girls, and then Eddie, his younger sister, and I hit the mall. All we needed was a pair of shoes for Eddie. That’s it! To keep it short, it was a nightmare.

I thought I had the mall-thing down. I thought I knew how to please Eddie for any amount of aimless wandering. I was wrong. Nothing worked, and we grabbed my best shoe-guess and headed for the door. Just when I think I know how to include him so everyone can be happy, I find myself shaken and desperate in a crowd.


Due to desperation, we went to the nearest fast-food joint that carried an option suitable for Eddie. Then, we quickly found a park. He spent some time swinging and drumming on the chain (as pictured), and then it was time to go. He was smiling, and laughing, and loaded into the van without complaint. I thought we were back to the “good.”

Until the drive home…where the “bad” returned behind my seat and I thought I’d need a chiropractor after all the kicking. I just can’t always get a handle on things. The glimpse of happiness that comes when we’re out of the house makes it worth it…most of the time. Today was not one of those days. Honestly, we might have both been happier if we’d had a “pajama day” instead.