Monday 30 August 2021

Making Outings More Enjoyable.

Let's talk about outings.

Outings for our family can be touch and go and it really depends on where we are planning to go. Both little superheroes struggle with new places, loud noises, changes in plans, large crowds and so on. But if we stopped going out as a family, we'd lead a pretty boring life!

Over the last few years on our Autism journey, we've learnt a few tricks of the trade to help both little superheroes on family outings. So here are a few tricks and tips that we hope you too will find useful.

We do a lot of talking about the outing beforehand - where we will be going, what we might be doing and/or seeing, how we will get there and how long it may take. This prepares both little superheroes for what lies ahead. If we decide on an impromptu outing, we will generally go somewhere that the little superheroes have previously been and a place that they've enjoyed going to so that there aren't too many surprises. Surprises can be overwhelming.

Wherever we go, we usually look as though we're planning on a long term stay - we will always take a snack bag as due to both of the little superheroes food aversions there may, or may not be, food that they will both eat. As they become older, they are both more willing to try new foods. At times, they may not eat all of the new food, so a snack bag is a must. There is also a back pack - changes of clothes for both, wipes to clean up any messes and fully charged battery chargers.

Which brings us to the sensory tools that we take. Both little superheroes struggle with loud noises so block out ear protectors are taken everywhere. We may not need them every time we go out but I can guarantee that the day we don't pack them, is the day that we will need them. We also have a few small sensory fidget tools as they help both little superheroes cope in challenging environments.

Electronic devices are also a must because they are a great distraction tool for when either of the little superheroes are having a rough time. Hence the fully charged battery chargers!

Over the last few years we have refined the baseline of our expectations. Depending on where we are going, we are usually the first in and the first to leave. We arrive when the crowds are low and then leave when the crowds become overwhelming for the little superheroes.

Knowing when to leave is important as well. We may not be able to see or experience all of the attraction that we're at, but there is really no point in extending the length of our outing if either of the little superheroes are struggling due to sensory or emotional overload. It's just not fair on either of them. And there is always a next time.

And wherever we go, participation by the little superheroes isn't mandatory. If they need a break, we have a break. A break in a quiet spot away from the busyness of where we are, is usually enough to allow the little superheroes to recharge their batteries. For L, this usually means running around to gain some proprioception input or some lap lays and cuddles from Henry. For O, it usually means some device time.

Henry has had a huge positive impact on our family outings as both little superheroes know that he is very capable of assisting them both to calm. 

Not every family is as fortunate as ours to have an Assistance Dog placed with them, but hopefully you will be able use a few of our other tricks and tips. I'd love to hear how you go utilising these ideas.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on my blog. I do read all the comments that are posted. Thanks so much for stopping by. Jen xx