by Ilene, My Family’s Experience With Autism
I’ve never been what anyone would consider an athlete. I’ve never even been what would be considered “in shape”. I walk faster than I run, and it’s not that I’m a fast walker. I’ve never been a fan of stairs. But I’ve always been able to get by.
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I took our 3 kids on a vacation to a resort with my husband’s family. One of the things that all of my kids were looking forward to was the indoor water park that they had on site. There were several water slides that EVERYONE was excited to try. Big Brother is a typical 7 year old and, once he realized that his swimming level wouldn’t stand in his way, he was able to do anything he wanted. He went up the 4 flights of stairs and down those slides so many times I couldn’t tell you the numbers even if you held a gun to my head.
But Ballerina and Music Man can’t go up there unsupervised. They are both 5, both Autistic, and really not capable of understanding things like “waiting their turn” when someone isn’t there to hold them back. Plus, Ballerina isn’t allowed on the slides herself because she’s not 48 inches tall (Music Man MAY be that tall [he's close if not there], but we never stopped to check). So, every time they wanted to go down one of those 3 slides, they needed someone to go with them. Dad was uncomfortable with the thought of going down those slides himself, so it fell to me to take them up there.
They had a BLAST!!!!! They loved going down these slides sitting in a tube going through this dark tunnel. They liked the echo their screams made (which surprised me to no end) and they couldn’t wait to go down again.
Can you see the problem here? Their ability to go down the slides, like any other kid, wasn’t an issue. The issue was ME. Every time they were going to go down the slide, I had to climb up the 4 flights of stairs. I had to carry the 2-person tube if we were going down the “pink slide” (which only happened once). I had to find the energy in my legs to make it up there over and over and over again.
Most times I was able to distract them – tell them to go to the “fort” which happens to have a couple of water slides on it’s own and is something that they can do without my help. I tried this every time we finished going down a slide, just to give me a break. But finally, Music Man realized something – if he started going up the stairs, he’d get to go again because I had to go after him and by the time I would catch him, we’d be near the top and I needed the break by going down the slide.. The barrier stopping everyone from getting on the slides wasn’t at the bottom of the stairs, but at the top. So, as soon as he got off the tube, he immediately started going up the stairs and I had to follow him. In the 3 hours or so we were at that park, I probably climbed up there at least 20 times. To say I was EXHAUSTED would be an understatement.
I need to do something. I need to lose weight, and I need to get into shape. My kids deserve the opportunity to do the things that everyone else gets to do, even if it means they have to do it with me. They deserve to go on a water slide and not be limited by my lack of physical energy to get up those stairs. Because they really did love it there.
We have a Wii. The original excuse for getting it (which hasn’t happened in the 2.5 years we’ve had it) was to use some of the Fitness games. Well, that’s going to happen now. I purchased the game for The Biggest Loser because it claims that it works for all body types, all weights and all abilities. I’m going to use this every day and try to get into some kind of shape. I’m going to change the way I eat and work on finding some energy.
Because if I don’t do something, and soon, I won’t be there for my kids. What greater motivator is there?
My name is Ilene and I’m a happily married stay-at-home-mom to 3 wonderful children. My eldest is a typically developing 6 year old first grader. I also have a set of girl/boy twins who are recently turned 5, both diagnosed with Classic Autism. My daughter has also been diagnosed with ADHD.
Life is not what I imagined it would be at this stage, but it’s still my life, and it’s good. We have good days and we have bad days, just like everyone else. I started blogging to cope with things not progressing the ways that I wanted them to go. Sometimes I vent about problems. Sometimes I share in a glorious moment. Sometimes I try to educate others. It really depends on what I feel like saying when I sit down at the computer to “blog”. But I do promise that everything I write is honest and heartfelt, even though I may contradict myself from time to time as I learn new things.
I hope to share with others what we go through. And I hope you enjoy reading our stories.