My son's preschool had a field trip to Historic Wheeler Farm yesterday, and as I was pretty much done preparing for my class on Monday, I took some time off to go. I haven't spent time at my son's school since I can rarely justify the time off, but this time I needed the experience.
We met at his preschool at 8:40 AM, and my son got to spend a lot of time in the playground. He immediately took off running, heading out of the playground and toward the parking lot. Both my wife and I chased after him, and caught him. He, of course, thought it was a game, and laughed like crazy. Finally they opened the door and I got to see his beginning routine as they tried to keep the routine as close to normal as possible.
We then headed out into the hall and toward the bus. There were two, because the field trip was for both the Autistic class and the regular preschool class that meets at the same school. We traveled with the regular class, and I sat with a couple of other kids while my son sat with my wife.
Once there, my son again took off and ran into a paddock with only one gate, making it easy to keep track of him. I think he just wanted the exercise out in the sun. Anyway, I gathered him up quickly and we took the tour with his class.
My son didn't seem that interested in the animals, so I carried him mostly on my shoulders so I knew he wasn't down by the river playing in the water (it was running really fast). So I took the time to look at the other parents and how they acted.
It was odd, being with other parents of autistic children. We were all very protective of our children, wanting to keep close tabs on them, and very anxious with their behavior. That is only to be expected, though, as some children had melt-downs when they were asked to sit without anything happening to keep their attention, or getting on the bus at a time when they didn't expect to be on the bus (thinking they were going home early). It comes with the job of being an parent of an autistic child.
One thing was interesting was a mother of a child that was a year older than our son. She has an older daughter that is not autistic, and decided to stop at having just two children. She also defended the decision immediately, trying to explain why she made it to us. She didn't, need to, because we had come to the same conclusion after we found out our son was Autistic. The attention required to help your autistic child develop and learn is intensive, so having several siblings can be taxing on the parents.
What was interesting is that we ran into the same sort of questioning after we made that decision: often people would ask when we would have our next one, how many we were planning on having, etc. We had initially planned for 4 kids' names (two boys and two girls), but when we found that our first son was autistic (shortly after we found out we were expecting our second), we had made the decision that his welfare was important enough to hold off having more children.
Anyway, the field trip was a success, and the teachers and aides were thrilled to have little to do, as there were plenty of parents there to help. The only regret that I have is that we didn't drive there to Wheeler Farm, as the bus ride was cramped and uncomfortable on the way there and we could have gone home directly after the field trip.
But it was still a great experience, and a great feeling of community the experience provided for us.