Autism and Picnics - A Bad Combination!

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

We were having a lovely holiday with our two young children, the sun was shining and we had wonderful plans for a family day out.

We chose our destination, packed the car, organised all the equipment our children needed and set off for our first proper picnic.

We had chosen a castle on a hill with a park for the children to play in after we had eaten.

There was disabled parking and the walk, although uphill, was possible with a wheelchair.

By the time we parked up we were all hungry.

To be fair, my son is pretty much ALWAYS hungry and today was no exception.

Our first challenge was to cross a road.

For the child in the wheelchair this involved screaming, arm throwing and bouncing on the chair.

He sees no reason to wait for anything!

For the other, her anxiety was already off the scale; noise, cars, no sign of traffic lights, feeling the breeze on her skin, shoes on her feet - the list was endless.

We tried not to let their stress affect us.

So, we crossed that road safely and started our short walk.

What we forgot to think about is what is short for us seems never ending for a child with sensory issues!

We ended up resting at every seat we could see and we started to think we would be eating supper never mind lunch!

We soldiered on. The kids cried. We finally found a spot to put our blanket down and we released our eager son from his wheelchair.

And he was off!

Why, oh, why did we not find an enclosed piece of ground?

We chased him. We bribed him.

We were torn between as escaping non verbal severely autistic child and his twin sister frozen with fear and screaming at her brother's running.

Right at that moment I looked down from the top of the hill and realised our biggest mistake EVER!

Yes, we had a wonderful view of the town below, the countryside in the distance and rooftops.

What we hadn't noticed was that we also had a birds eye view of a well known fast food restaurant.

Three guesses for where our brown haired boy was heading?

My husband ran like the wind to catch up with my son and since I knew he had a phone I decided to settle my daughter with the delights of our picnic.

Did I mention she is one of the most selective eaters I have ever met?

The sandwiches were too squashed, the fruit was too hard, the crisps didn't smell right, she could see insects within miles of her, the rug was too scratchy, the wind was too cold - need I go on?

I conceded defeat as she shivered standing on the rug even on the warmest that year. We were tired, stressed and hungry.

In the end the child with the least vocabulary, and the diagnosed learning disability seemed to have the best idea of all.

Autism and picnics for us don't work.

Food is eaten at a table, warm and inside.

Those are the rules.

I was just glad I had the wheelchair to help me get my daughter down that hill.

We made memories:

They just consisted of nuggets, fries and tomato sauce instead of sandwiches, fruit and salad that day.

Sometimes plans change and that is part of the fun!


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