In what may end up being one of the coolest things we have ever done for Kaitlyn, Amber and I launched a mystery game for Kaitlyn leading up to today that was one-of-a-kind. Everything came together pretty quick as far as us planning the end result, it was just a matter of coming up with the clues and the gifts along the way. (Amber did a great job coming up with the clues and the graphics for each clue.)
Starting December 7, Kaitlyn received one clue per day/night about the mystery we planned for her. It was awesome to follow along with her as she tried to figure out what they all meant, and we captured each clue on video as well. The clues are listed below, in the order she received them, along with any gifts that were with the clue. Don’t spoil the surprise for yourself by scrolling to the bottom. Play along, and please comment at the end with how many clues it took for you to figure it out. I hope you enjoy!
Clue 1: Solving a mystery can’t be beat. Don’t get lazy on those feet.
We made the first clue as vague as possible, but it was enough to hook her. It took her about two minutes to start searching for her next clue, but Kaitlyn would have to wait, which is not her strong suit.
Clue 2: What a way to kick off the summer, a week in June won’t be a bummer. (This clue came with a little sundress.)
Kaitlyn read the clue a couple times before she connected that something was happening for a week in June. At this point, she was convinced that the mystery would not be solved until June.
Clue 3: Where sand and sun meet, this trip is a special treat. (This clue came with two new bathing suits.)
Kaitlyn figured out that the trip in June would take us to a beach somewhere, but where?
Clue 4: All the ice cream you can eat. Hurry quick and grab a seat. (This clue was located in our chest freezer, with the ice cream. Where else?)
So far, she pieced together that we are going to be on the beach somewhere, cooling off with ice cream.
Clue 5: A fireworks show you just have to see. There’s magic in everything if you just believe.
This clue sort of threw Kaitlyn off the trail a little bit. She immediately thought about July 4, which, of course, does not go along with an earlier clue.
Clue 6: You might see a dolphin or two, make sure to take Archie with you!
Archie is Kaitlyn’s stuffed dolphin from our trip to Sea World over a year ago. He goes everywhere with us. When she read this clue, Kaitlyn immediately said that we will be doing some “deep sea swimming with dolphins.” Swimming with dolphins is surely a possibility, but is not something we currently have planned for this trip. Hopefully she will be ok with seeing dolphins from a distance in the event we opt to not actually swim with them.
Clue 7: To an island we shall go, a hunting treasure don’t you know! (This clue came with a Tinkerbell beach bag)
Kaitlyn was able to deduce that the beach from clue #3 is an island. Which island we will be visiting remained a mystery to her at this point. Is it the island pictured on the right?
Clue 8: We’ll be dining in the Royal Palace one night; we recommend you try the Princess Delight. (This clue came with a pink dress)
Confusion is starting to set in. Kaitlyn thought that we are going to be going to a castle.
Clue 9: Dessert after dinner is yours to take. I hear the Enchanted Garden has a Royal cupcake! (This clue came with a giant cupcake)
Kaitlyn wa not sure what to make of this clue, other than she will be able to have dessert after her meals. She also tore in to the cupcake that came with this clue.
Clue 10: There’s a kids club if you so choose, without mom and dad telling you what to do.
Kaitlyn was excited when she read this clue. To her, it meant that she would not have to listen to me or Amber while on our trip. Close. She will be able to enjoy herself at a kids club during the day if she wants to, with no parental interference.
Clue 11: There’s fun and sun on the island of Castaway Cay, but don’t worry, “the tribe has spoken,” you won’t be hearing Jeff Probst say. (This clue came with a pink bandana/buff)
We may have stumped Kaitlyn a little with this one. She is convinced that our trip has something to do with Survivor, which is one of her favorite shows.
Clue 12: They have shuttles to launch you into space, but a ship is what we’ll use to say “Bon Voyage!” to this place. (This clue came with a little toy boat)
Kaitlyn’s first reaction was the we were going to outer space. Nope. Then she tried to piece together the clues, and came up with we were going somewhere on a ship, specifically the “Tortuga,” which is the name of a boat that is used on a show that she watches.
Clue 13: There are things you’ll have to learn: port means left, and where’s the stern?
Kaitlyn insisted that we use the iPad to look up what “stern” meant. She learned that the stern is the aft or rear of a ship.
Clue 14: Do you have a wish? Is it to call Captain Hook a “silly codfish?” (This clue came with pirate tattoos and an eye patch)
Kaitlyn looked over all of her clues, and it was back to the iPad. She looked up Castaway Cay, the Enchanted Garden, and Royal Palace. She was excited about what she saw in the pictures that came up, but still had not connected the dots and figured out the exact nature of the trip; she had a pretty good idea, but still had not put the puzzle together.
Clue 15: Floating around like a rubber duck, running into Donald might be your luck. (This clue came with a rubber duck)
Kaitlyn knew one thing for sure after this clue, she will be seeing Donald Duck. Amber and I think that she would have this figured out by now if she could just piece the clues together instead of looking at them individually.
Clue 16: It’s not a nightmare so don’t scream, only good memories aboard this Dream. (This clue came with Minnie Mouse pajamas)
She is convinced that there will be a bed on this trip. Nailed it! She has a really good idea what we are doing, but has not completed the puzzle quite yet.
Clue 17: All aboard me hearties! Get ready for a rockin’ pirate party! (This clue came with a party dress)
Kaitlyn knows exactly what we are doing and where we are going. The pieces of the puzzle have been put together. One clue to go, however.
Clue 18: Make sure to have an autograph book with you. There’s not telling who you’ll run in to. (This clue came with and autograph book and a DVD that previewed our vacation)
Kaitlyn really cannot contain her excitement about going on a Disney cruise this summer! She is looking forward to setting sail with Mickey, Minnie, and a ton of other Disney characters. She has already made it known that she cannot wait to ride the AquaDuck.
Kaitlyn woke up this morning knowing where we are going on vacation, and she really cannot wait. Santa left a few presents under the tree that she can bring with her on vacation, too. Then, at 10:05am, she received a special phone call from Captain Mickey to let her know how excited he is that she will be joining him on a cruise this summer. The look on her face when she heard Mickey on the other end of the line was priceless, and is one that I will remember for a very long time.
Last night,Kaitlyn was as upset as she has been since Andy and Tommy were eliminated from the Amazing Race last fall. All season during Survivor, Kaitlyn has hoped each week that Kat would not be voted off the island.
Kat’s run ended last night. As the “survivors” were at Tribal Council and casting votes for who would no longer be in the running for the million dollar prize, Amber and I kept checking on Kaitlyn. When host Jeff Probst began reading the votes, we watched as Kaitlyn became more and more upset with each vote cast against Kat. And when Jeff announced that Kat had been voted off, Kaitlyn burst into tears; uncontrollable, streaming tears. To her, she had lost the game as well.
Kaitlyn loves shows like Survivor and the Amazing Race, and usually does not become this attached to any of the contestants. Every once in a while, however, she invests fully in one (or a team) and if they do not win, Kaitlyn takes it personally. We can’t exactly not let her watch the shows, either, because of this occasional investment; doing so would only serve as an unjust punishment for no reason.
“Oh pooth!” Kaitlyn managed to get out in between tears. Today and tonight had been good up until a few minutes before 9. She had helped me get some things prepared for a Christmas party this week, and eaten her dinner without giving us a hard time, and she was enjoying the Amazing Race like she likes to do on Sunday nights.
All season long, Kaitlyn (and Amber and I also) had rooted for Andy and Tommy. And all season long, they had not disappointed her once. They were rather dominating. Until they took a wrong turn tonight. And were eliminated. That they will not be racing next week threw Kaitlyn into one of those episodes where she is completely inconsolable.
Amber and I are heartbroken to say the least. Not even Amber suggesting that maybe they would appear on an All-Star edition of the show helped her at all.
There is no manual for these types of reactions. This type of strong reaction is reserved for monumental events for a neurotypical child. Where a “normal” child will accept that Andy and Tommy were eliminated and move on, Kaitlyn has had her world turned upside down. Even Amber and I were at a loss on how to get her to calm down. Her response was one that you might expect after hearing news of a tragic loss or event, not one of watching a team on TV no longer be able to chase a million dollar prize.
We know that there will be times when we are left speechless because of the way Kaitlyn process things, and any parent of a child on the spectrum knows what I am talking about here. But knowing that it will happen does not make it any easier to deal with. What is the best way to make her sadness go away? This may seem like an overstatement, but this may just impact her whole week, and it will not get any easier next Sunday when she does not see her favorite team racing. She comprehends season finales of the Race and Survivor and is always fine after a winner is declared, knowing that the next season is right around the corner. Rarely has she had this strong of a response to an elimination.
If we find something that works in dealing with her tremendous sadness from tonight, you can bet that it will be put into our mental notebooks and we will at least have a foundation for the next time this happens. Because one thing is for sure, it will happen again.
And for the record, we are not sure where she picked up “pooth,” or how she came about using it. But we have surmised that she uses it to express sadness, frustration, surprise, and pretty much any other emotion.