Thursday, August 16, 2012

The STL Staycation Learning Experience

There is certainly a lot to see in St. Louis!  So when my hubby's older brother and family came to town from Wisconsin for the past few days, we wanted to show them as much as we could.  You know, do the typical tourist type usually going to places you only visit if someone comes from out of town.  It is fun to see places that we are close to yet never pay much attention to because we live it becomes like our own "staycation" as well!

The last time we did the STL staycation thing was when his younger brother and sister came to stay with us for a couple weeks.  That was about 4 years ago... before Trey.  So this time we had some challenges.  As with many Autistic children, Trey is very sensitive to noisy places which becomes challenging when taking him to certain public places.  He is also very routine oriented and doesn't tolerate too many changes from his daily schedule.  However, we don't want him to not experience new things.. we have always had the "well, let's give it a try!" attitude with him.  If it doesn't go well, we can leave and just say we tried.  Sometimes we end up leaving.. other times Trey surprises us and does great.  We had a little of both this week.. but overall it was a really fun week.  I must say, it certainly helped having such understanding and loving  family with us!

Day 1:  First stop was the St. Louis Zoo!  This has always been one of my favorite places since I was a little kid.  It was a perfect day in the 70's and cloudy.. so all the animals were out.  Trey did great riding in his stroller (this does not happen often!) but as usual, he didn't pay much attention to the animals.  His 4 year old cousin, however,  loved the bears, giraffes, and especially the train... it was fun to see him so excited!  Then something amazing happened that day at the Penguin exhibit.. Trey seemed to connect to a little penguin.  He just sat for a bit and looked at him.  He seemed to really study him.  The little penguin didn't even move and it seemed he was looking back at Trey.  It was the first time Trey actually noticed and showed interest in an animal at the zoo.
Trey and his penguin...

Chase says "Cheese!"... Trey says "F!"

Trey didn't quite last the whole walk around the zoo.  He got a good 45 minute nap in too.

Sleepy boy and his blankie
Since the morning went so well, we decided to make our next stop the Gateway Arch.  It was so cute helping Trey walk up the big steps to the Arch.  We decided to just take pictures outside and walk through the Arch grounds.  Trey wanted to run.  I let him run a little in the open field under the Arch but then he kept wanting to run back to the big steps.  It made me pretty nervous!  I could just see him tumbling all the way down.  He didn't want me telling him "No" so he started having a meltdown.  The type of meltdown where I couldn't console him or even pick him up.  I knew people were staring wondering what was wrong with him.  Daddy finally got him calmed down enough to start our walk back to the parking lot.

Trey climbing up the Arch steps

Day 2:  Our nephew loves dinosaurs so we decided to go to the St. Louis Science Center.  It was Monday morning so not very crowded.  The stroller would have been difficult in the building so we decided to put the monkey leash on Trey and let him walk around.  It was fun seeing him interested in a few things like the tornado display and a big lighted globe.  We were able to look around for a little over an hour.. or maybe it was two.  I lost track of time in there.  It was the last stretch through a tunnel-like hallway to the space memorabilia display where Trey had enough.. another meltdown.  Daddy scooped him up sideways and we walked towards the exit as fast as we could.  I was walking behind feeling sad to see Trey so upset and watching people turn and stare towards the screams.  When he got to our van and into his seat with his favorite show on the DVD player, he was a happy boy again.
He found an activity with numbers

Then we all decided to go to the mall for lunch and look around the big Cabela's store.  Trey had a little nap on the way.  We saw the big fish tank and animal display at Cabela's.. had lunch in the food court.. then headed home.  Trey clearly had enough excitement for one day.   Hubby's brother, wife, and little guy stayed and did some shopping.  I am so glad they did.  I didn't want them to ever feel like they had to leave when we did.  I just wanted to try and take Trey to do things with them as much as he was able.

Day 3:  How about a picnic lunch on the riverfront and then stroll through the shops on Main Street?  Well.. kinda.   Trey fell asleep in the van on our way to get sub sandwiches.  So I stayed in the car and ate my sandwich... which was good for him to get a little rest.  This helped us have a nice stroll down Main Street after we ate.

That night it was dinner and games at Chuck E. Cheese!!  Trey loved the train and even rode his first ride!  He has never wanted to before... in fact, he screamed last year when I tried putting him on anything.  So it was a big deal to see him actually do it!  It may have been only because it was a big clock with lots of numbers.  Whatever it takes is ok.  We were so proud of him!

Overall it was a great staycation!!  It was wonderful visiting with our family and watching Trey experience new places and things.  We are learning how to let our son experience new places and knowing when it's time to leave.  We are learning the importance of family and friends who understand how difficult that can be sometimes and still support you.  We are learning not to let other peoples stares or judgements bother us.  We are learning how to improvise plans to make them still work.

We are learning to appreciate and cherish the little things like a penguin or a ride on a clock...

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