At the summer camp that Kaitlyn has been going to all summer, each Thursday was basically a “free choice” kind of day. The campers were given two choices of afternoon activities, with one being a more physical activity, the other less intense. Sometimes it would be ziplining or bowling, other times arts and crafts or a sports academy visit.
For the most part, Kaitlyn has done good about varying up her choices in order to get a chance to do more activities. Of course, if the choice was doing something other than going to one of our local sports academies, she would choose to not go to the sports academy. And she had a good reason for the decision, or it at least seemed that way.
Last year, she got sick the evening after going to the sports academy. Amber and I knew then and know now that it was her usual sickness that happens when she overdoes things and gets exhausted (it tends to be the only way she slows down). Kaitlyn was and remains convinced it had something to do with the visit to the sports academy that day. Ok, sure.
This morning as we were heading to camp, she shared with me why she was going to choose to do arts and crafts, and she cited her illness last year as the main reason. That got me to thinking, and led me to ask her to really think about her reasoning. I used the fact that she had gotten sick at LEGOLAND the time we visited as my argument as to why she shouldn’t be quick to eliminate a place off of one (perceived) bad thing happening. I reminded her that she got sick to the point where I had to carry her for quite some time (I also needed a new shirt), but she still rides rollercoasters and water rides at theme parks. Of course, she had an answer for that.
She claims that her experience at LEGOLAND helped make her into the daredevil that she is today, and made her want to ride rollercoasters even more; I used that same logic, or at least tried to, about visiting the sports academy again. She wasn’t buying it. I guess she likes to pick and choose which bad experiences are growing times or learning experiences, and which are the ones that make it to where she won’t try something a second time.
As is pretty much par for the course here in North Florida, we can count on a few things happening without fail during the summer: it is going to be hot early and for most of the day, and we are going to (most likely) get thunderstorms at some point during the day. That is kind of the nature of the beast.
This summer, however, we have seen our fair share of really nasty, almost violent storms (although I guess one could consider trees impaling roofs in our area “violent”). We’ve had a few storms this summer with significant wind gusts, a tornado or two, and lots of lightning and thunder.
About a week or so ago, we had one of those storms come through. We heard it building for quite some time, saw a few flashes of lightning along the way, too. Nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year. Of course, that would all change not two minutes after we turned off Kaitlyn’s light for the night. A huge flash of lightning and a house-shaking rumble of thunder caused a scream to come from Kaitlyn that made the hair on my arms stand up: it was the sound of pure fear and terror. Before we could even digest what was going on, Kaitlyn came sprinting out of her room, her eyes filled with panic, her heart beating out of her chest. It took a good 20 minutes before she calmed down enough to go back to her room.
Kaitlyn has never been a fan of thunderstorms. The flashes of lightning get to her, and the rumbles of thunder really mess with her; loud noises in general cause angst and panic with her. Until we can figure out a better coping mechanism, it is a safe bet that we have not seen the last of these types of reactions from Kaitlyn.
It seems like just yesterday, we finally getting a chance to catch our breath from what was a busy third grade year for Kaitlyn. But here we are, almost at the end of July, and the start of school is right around the corner. It’s hard to believe that she only has two more weeks of summer camp before she gets going with school again (we have a week of vacation, too, and Kaitlyn will spend a week at Amber’s work).
This summer sure has moved right along though. While she certainly has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and learning, it is safe to say that Kaitlyn has enjoyed her summer once again. Who wouldn’t enjoy three trips to Wild Adventures (by the time summer is over), multiple trips to the movies, plenty of bowling, some ziplining, and countless trips to local pools? I know I would.
On top of all of her weekly trips, Kaitlyn has spent nearly every weekend in our pool.
But with school right around the corner, and with Amber and I being fully aware of how difficult it can be to get Kaitlyn back into her routine after so much time out of it (she has really enjoyed being able to stay up later every night!), we have already started to get her back to a regular schedule. This summer will pretty much follow the pattern of previous summers, and we will ease her back into her routine. We usually have to spend a night or two battling with her over it, explaining why we are cutting back on her “fun” time, then once she is on board, we get her used to spending time unwinding in her room before we turn off the light in her room for good each night.
At this point, Amber and I are getting to be (almost) experts at how to best handle this time of year. We still learn and adjust all the time, but having a few summers under our belts has helped tremendously. Deep down, Kaitlyn knows how much these routines keep her on track and how she benefits greatly from them, even if she does choose to fight us every step of the way.
School has been out for over a month now. Kaitlyn has been enjoying herself every day at camp, venturing to different places, seeing different things. Basically, having the type of summer she earned by working so hard during the past school year.
But for Kaitlyn, the learning never stops. And she seems perfectly content to just keep on trucking along.
The picture below is representative of what we have seen pretty much every morning and every night for most of the summer. This is not us forcing her to do what she is doing, this is her doing it on her own, because she wants to. (And yes, that is an old-fashioned Webster’s dictionary she is using.)
“The bus leaves at 7:30. We should probably leave the house by 6:45.”
Several times per year, especially during the summer when field trips are more plentiful, we hear that refrain, or one similar. Kaitlyn knows what time the bus departs the school, and she absolutely does not want to miss it. I get it.
Here we are, however, in the middle of our 5th summer taking Kaitlyn to camp, having just completed our 4th school year, and she has yet to come close to missing a bus. Not even remotely close.
Kaitlyn has this thing about being on time. She gets it from me. As slow as she can be most mornings (and afternoons and evenings) when it comes to getting moving, if we have to be somewhere by a certain time, she knows it and helps to make sure we get to where we are going on time. When it comes to being places at a certain time, she is like a European train schedule.
I guess her adherence to being on time (or way early) is one of the things that is really driven by her Asperger’s. It is a combination of the structure of an itinerary and the following of a set schedule that gives her some comfort and helps her know what is going on. With the way she struggles with transitions and changes of schedule, the more closely things are to following a schedule, the better for her.
Oh, and if the bus leaves at 7:30, we won’t be leaving the house at 6:45, not for a one mile drive to the school.