Friday, May 11, 2012

Needing a vacation from the vacation

I mean, I suppose we should've seen it coming. Kiddo goes wonky when off routine. But you get in vacation mode and you start to check out mentally and in between the packing up clothes and the did I remember sunscreen? and the oh shoot is the toaster unplugged? and making sure you have directions and all that, remembering your child has ADHD and will not be in vacation mode doesn't necessarily top the list. Apparently.

We were at one of those adorable old-fashioned family resorts where everyone eats in the big dining room and there are games and a lake to play on and the staff puts on a show at night. Think the resort in "Dirty Dancing," except, you know, no dirty dancing. Though there was a Mardi Gras parade through the dining room featuring Spider-Man. DH's family used to vacation there every year, and we were back for Grandma's birthday (and the staff remembered them. Impressive).

But there was too much going on, I guess, or too much to look at, or maybe everything smelled too different, who knows. All of kiddo's "behaviors" ramped up to the nth degree.

First, kiddo figured out how to open the cabin room door. And ran out. Repeatedly. Kiddette frequently followed, because she thinks everything her big brother does is cool, especially when it's not. One or three of us would have to sprint after them and catch them. Preschoolers: Faster than you think.

Then, mealtimes. At every single meal, kiddo would push off from the table and run. At random. For no good reason. One time he got all the way out of the main building, into the parking lot and in front of a (parked) shuttle bus. Needless to say, this freaked us out a bit.

Also, bladder control. He had three accidents in two days, twice because he just wasn't noticing that he had to go. The final time wasn't entirely his fault -- he did ask to go potty after dinner, and I hustled him down the hall to the restroom. Which, for the first time all weekend, actually had a line in it. And the people in the stalls must have been writing their memoirs in there, because those doors stayed good and closed. And I pleaded with kiddo to hold it but I knew it was a lost cause, and eventually he just couldn't anymore. The old biddies in back of us clucked sympathetically and I had a brief desire to tell them where they could stick their sympathy.

And then I had to haul his wet self back to the dining room to grab the bag where I was keeping extra pants and underwear, and then haul it back to the restroom to change him (again), and this was the point where I finally lost it entirely and yelled at him, and became utterly convinced that we were never going to be able to take a vacation with him anywhere ever.

Also, they had to sing Happy Birthday to Grandma while we were in the bathroom, because they couldn't hold up the kitchen staff.

Four adults. One ADHD kid. And we couldn't keep him in line.

We did discuss the issue with his therapist this week, who suggested in future to arrive at the destination a day early, then reestablish a normal routine with him, just low-key going about the day, without immediately jumping into sightseeing or other activities. That would reset him, I guess. Bottom line is, there is no vacation from his condition. We don't get to pretend he's a normal 5-year-old.

The therapist also said quieter, nature-centric spots would be better for him than amusement parks, because that would be way too much overstimulation. Disney, for instance, would be like Vegas to him. (So much for hitting Disney next year.) I don't mind nature-centric spots. So at least that's an option.

Still, I don't think I'm in any hurry to take another vacation.


  1. Honestly, I wouldn't be so certain about Disney being an issue for him. The "cast members" (staff) is wonderfully trained to deal with all sorts of special needs kids, and are really great with everything from autism and beyond. The lines almost always have activities in them to keep kiddos occupied while you wait to ride -- which is wonderfully diverting if you have an easily distracted kiddo. As with everything, the key is planning -- check out the articles on dealing with special needs kids at Disney on for some really helpful information. When our daughter was younger and her sensory issues were less manageable, Disney was the one place that we could go with her where she literally improved the moment we walked in the gates. The overstimulation actually helped her center. But every child is different, so YMMV. The one thing I would recommend is to stay at one of the resorts near the Magic Kingdom if you can, especially one on the monorail line, so you can easily go back mid-day for a nap or a pool break to re-center -- it can make a world of difference. Also, if you can go in the off-season and not during the insanely crowded summer or on holidays, the smaller lines really do make a world of difference for younger kids. HTH!

    1. Thanks, that's really useful information. We were a little bummed about the idea of pushing off Disney, since we haven't been there since the kids were born. His therapist didn't think he'd be ready until he's 10, which, if you're counting, would be another five years.

      What sorts of sensory issues did your daughter have, if you don't mind my asking?

  2. She has sensory integration issues -- she's sensory seeking, though, not sensory averse. She's done really, really well with physical therapy and can now manage them on her own. If you didn't know she had them, you'd have no idea at this point. She also has speech dyspraxia issues that have also resolved through lots of speech therapy -- she used to not talk at all and we had to do sign language with her, now she chatters away and you can't tell because she enunciates really clearly.

    The first time we went with her to Disney, we paced our days so that we took a break in the middle every day and went back either for a nap or quiet time in the pool, and that worked really well. There is a pass that you can get that allows a little special leeway if you need it -- you need a doctor's scrip for it, but if you have a child with severe autism issues or cerebral palsy who needs insulation from crowds, they have ways to do that with certain rides and attractions. The folks have a LOT of information on navigating that and how to plan -- they also have all the menus online for restaurants in case you are dealing with dietary issues, too. HTH!