A few months ago I had an elaborate plan for Noah’s first moviegoing experience. At Easter time, I found the newest kids movie and looked up a sensory friendly viewing. I found one a few towns away. I sent my husband to the Build-A-Bear Workshop to create the main character, which I had seen in an email advertisement. When the day came, I was very excited. Noah was excited too but not because we were going to see a movie, but because of the popcorn. That was good enough for me. Larry brought Noah into the theatre while I placed the bunny from the movie in Noah’s car seat for him to find when we came back out to the car. When I got back inside, we all settled into our seats where I expected the fun to begin.
After a trip to the restroom with Daddy the movie began. I expected the lights to dim, which they didn’t and you could barely here the movie because the sound was so low. I guess they weren’t kidding when they said “lights up, sound down.” It was lit up in there like the Vegas strip! We were able to ply Noah into staying in his seat for about…oh…25 minutes. (sigh) Thankfully there weren’t very many other movie viewers in the theatre. We did end up staying through the whole show, but Larry and I were both exhausted by the end of the 90 minute movie. That was okay though, right? It would all be worth it when Noah got to the car and saw the bunny, just for him, in his seat.
Out to the car we went. Larry opened the door for Noah as I perched just the other side of the window with my camera. Noah didn’t miss a beat as he swiped the bunny on the floor without even looking. “Noah, look!” I said as I picked the bunny up off the floor. “It’s the bunny from the movie!” No dice. To this day he still hasn’t taken any interest in that dumb rabbit!
I’m a planner that doesn’t like suprises. This is one reason of many why I’m not a great fit to be an autism parent. I often plan things well in advance and have a tendency to feel let down when things don’t go as planned. You’d think that I would learn. Unfortunately, this Christmas, just like all the others was no exception to my habit. After Noah showed interest in a particular toy, I searched high and low until we got it for the best price possible. I baked, I wrapped, I decorated, we went to see light displays. All in hopes to peak his interest for Christmas morning. We he awoke I Christmas morning I thought he would love the FAO Schwartzesque display in the living room. Again, no dice. He looked a a couple of the unwrapped toys and moved on to things more familiar: old books and his iPad. When conversation and our encouragement to get him interested in his gifts was too much, he put on headphones and began running around the house. Not exactly the scene I was looking for.
All wasn’t lost, though. Noah opened up all of his gifts in his own time. He’s even played with most of them. Some of them were a huge hit, like the drum set that my parents got him. (No pun intended.) He did love going to see the lights and seemed interested in the tree. Plus, we got a lot of family time in doing these things. I can’t get enough of that kid, so that’s a big plus.
I won’t stop planning and I won’t stop expecting. To do that would be giving up hope. What I have learned is that we have to let Noah experience the things that we prepare for him at his own pace and in his own way. Our job is to expose him to as many experiences as we can, accept how he experiences those things and love him. I plan to do just that.