So……… this is not a regular trip report.
We just got back from our weekend away in Melbourne, which was interesting to say the least….BUT the ‘interesting’ had nothing to do with Touristo, or the Princess for that matter. Anyone who follows our Facebook or Instagram stream would see that Touristo and the Princess were complete champs. He managed the plane like a boss on both flights, and the issues we encountered had nothing to do with him.
The start of the trip was as planned. The flight down was amazing, we went to Sea Life Melbourne, St Kilda, rode the trams, walked through the city and I even had some time to have high tea in the lounge. Then we found ourselves in somewhat of an intense situation where I was responsible for ensuring someone else’s personal safety. As a result Touristo got dragged around the streets of Melbourne totally confused but compliant, with my husband and I crisis managing and the Princess completely confused but just getting on with it. I could not be more proud of my children if I tried. They were freaking champs in a totally unexpected situation that they couldn’t possibly begin to comprehend.
By the time we sat down to have breakfast on the last morning, and also pack our bags to return home, Touristo was acting a little bit out of character. I put this down to the trip not going the way I had planned. I had planned on getting out and about more, getting more sleep and sightseeing. Instead we spent a big chunk of the weekend weaving through the streets on foot, and being holed up in the hotel waiting for people.
So we finished packing, made our way to the airport and boarded our flight which was uneventful. Next step was finding our car and driving home……which was also uneventful until we pulled into our driveway……
Touristo started sobbing a sob I had never heard before. He was able to get out the words “Disneyland is not in Melbourne” over and over and over. Touristo has been helping me plan the big trip (in his own way) to Korea and Japan at Christmas, where we will visit Tokyo Disneyland (his favourite place on earth). He had been expecting that when we got on the plane, we would be going to Disneyland at some point during the trip. When he realised this was not happening……….total despair. I was able to explain to him that we are going there at Christmas-time and he eventually calmed (after a bribery trip to KFC to get a drumstick, and more explanation). So the real reason he had been acting out of character was that the reality of the weekend didn’t match his expectation of what was going to happen. Our expectations weren’t even slightly aligned.
I had primed him before going about why we were going to Melbourne and what we would be doing in Melbourne, but the confusion must have come about because he thought we were going because [the reason I gave] AS WELL as Disneyland. This morning he woke up hoping that today would be ‘Christmas-time’ and it was not…….more disappointment……so I am going to create a visual calendar with a picture of what we are going to be doing on each day during the lead up. Then I will have a picture of Touristo that we can move from one day to the next and cross out the days behind us……hopefully this helps.
I know this seems like he is having a massive first world whine, but it’s not even about Disneyland as much as it is about expectation not matching reality, and not being able to communicate that. For a kid with autism this is really, really hard. For 4 days he had been expecting his favourite thing in the world – keenly anticipating when this would happen. The build up would have been huge! He had no way of communicating his expectations as he is only minimally verbal, so the let down when he realised that this very huge expectation wasn’t eventuating would have been truly and genuinely devastating for a 5 year old.
So all in all, the trip was a bit of a bust. But my little buddies and I spent an amazing hour on Qantas’ amazing business class product and that was unbelievably cool…..they also got to splash in a reallllllyyyyy nice hotel pool and visit St Kilda Beach…..even though that outing got cut short due to said emergency. Even though the short break did not really live up to anyone in the family’s expectation, it was also a really great trial run for the big trip and we learned a lot from it, some of which I will elaborate on in future posts. We learned that disability services at the domestic airport is not useful for us, the pram is still necessary for us on a longer trip, we need to research parks and play areas ahead of time, a portable toddler toilet insert is a must not a ‘nice to have’, and it gave me confidence that no matter what happens, as a family we can manage and the kids are pretty tough especially the Princess.