Back in 2014, our family took a vacation to Orlando, Florida. It was April and very hot. The weather being hot is a critical element to the story, since Cara does not do well in heat. On this particular trip we found out how hard being in the heat was on her. On our second day we went to Islands of Adventure, specifically to go to Seuss Landing since Cara was a big fan of Dr. Seuss. The day, unfortunately, did not go well. The Cat in the Hat ride broke down halfway through. A good portion of the rest of Seuss Landing was actually overstimulating for Cara's senses, something I hadn't even remotely considered. After all, who imagines 9 foot tall flowers!? Cara's favorite part of the day was when she found a small water splash area. This is where the heat comes in. Cara didn't want to leave the splash area. We got her out of it once, but she had a magic compass in her mind and brought her dad back to it from the other side of the park. We finally decided to call it a day, but now Cara was refusing to leave the water play area. (Okay, some quick background information. Cara had been watching a "stranger danger" type DVD for some time. In the DVD they taught the kids to yell "This is not my mom, this is not my dad." I am sure you can now see where this is going.) As we are trying to get Cara to leave, she starts yelling, "This is not my mom. This is not my dad." One of my worst fears was happening. I kept saying, "Cara, I am your mom. This is your dad. This is your sister Josie." What if people really thought we were trying to kidnap her? Cara was practically nonverbal in terms of communication at this point so if someone tried to ask her questions she might not answer and if she did answer, it might not be accurate. She wouldn't be lying, per se, just answering the way she thought she was supposed to answer. There was even an employee nearby with his hand near his radio. I am sure he was wondering if he needed to call for security. Thankfully, he didn't call anyone. I think it became pretty clear that we were a family having trouble with a child. (I wonder how many people thought we needed to discipline our child better?) We finally resorted to physically picking Cara up and carrying her out of the water play area. Even after eight years as the parent of an autistic child, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.
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