Summer has got off to a crazily busy start for our family. May saw our baby girl Indigo Tempest turn a year old, Alex organise his first gig locally for a band from Norway that we have both loved for years, a lovely visit from a beautiful friend from Alex’s uni days and a family wedding.
June has already been busier as we have just returned from our holiday in Disneyland Paris! I hadn’t given much thought to our holiday since we booked it because Christmas and moving house distracted me. However, in the weeks coming up to the trip I did start to feel concerned about what we were letting ourselves in for. We have had a few frazzled day trips recently where I have been seriously relieved to get back home at the end of the day and the thought of being ‘trapped’ in France was making me more than a little nervous! I tried to be organised but May was so busy that I really had to just pack and go without too much thought!
For months beforehand, Thurston had been adamant that he would not be joining us on holiday. He maintained that he would be perfectly fine staying home alone as long as Grandma popped over with dinner every evening! We watched our home movie of our last trip to Disney, school made him a Social Story about holidays and we promised to buy him cars in the gift shop but nothing would make him change his mind.
Somehow, when the day came, he was fine with it and got in the car without a second thought. He happily sat aboard the Eurostar without any problem at all and kept himself entertained without any bother. It seemed too good to be true!
Once we arrived in the park, we had told Thurston that we would pop to the Disney Store and then eat lunch. Something in the Disney Store had sent Thurston into meltdown and it seemed like there was no going back. He was very grumpy, tearful and asked several times to go home. My heart sank and I wondered if I would be stuck with this for 5 days. However, once we had ploughed through 6/7 more Disney Stores and he realised that things were just a little different, he completely turned around! He was even happier when we found the McDonalds!
For the rest of our holiday, I can honestly say that Thurston was a complete angel. I was so so proud of him. There were several things that really saved our skin while we were away:
Alex went to Guest Services when we arrived and took Thurston’s Blue Badge and a Doctor’s report so that he could get a Priority Access card. This not only meant that Thurston never had to queue for a ride but also that he could take 4 other people with him. On certain rides it also meant that they would turn the noise down, slow the ride down or stop the travelator while you board. I think it’s so amazing that they have really thought about the implications of Autistic children and their sensory difficulties. Thurston wasn’t too sure about trying rides at first but the Priority Access meant that he didn’t have too much time to dwell on it and he ended up trying at least 7 different rides! His favourite by far was the Toy Story Slinky Dog ride and he rode several times a day. By day 5 the Disney staff knew him by name and welcomed him warmly “oh Thurston, you are back again!”. He felt so at home and Disney really bent over backwards for him!
My mum gave the other children some Euros for the gift shop and for Thurston she bought him a set of his favourite school books from the Biff, Chip & Kipper series. The familiarity of these stories helped Thurston enormously whenever he needed comforting. They were also brilliant for passing the time whenever the rest of our group were on a ride that wasn’t suitable for Thurston or Indigo.
Indigo is obviously still at an age where she needs to nap, twice a day for an hour each time in fact! She generally loves to be rocked to sleep which I knew was seriously going to cut into our time. I had seen my friend Kate use an Ergobaby carrier on our recent trip to London with her similarly-sized baby and so I hopped onto Ebay and got one for Indigo and I. It was an absolute lifesaver! I have never ever in 10 years enjoyed using a baby carrier and I wish I’d found this sooner. She napped away while we all continued with our day and I still got to hold and comfort her just like at home. The hood that supports her head while she naps and shields her from the sun is such a useful addition too!
The Bumbleride Indie stroller could not have been better for Thurston. We were sent this buggy a couple of years ago for Thurston and have used it on and off whenever we needed something to tackle all-terrain. I was initially concerned about how we would get around the parks as Thurston has hypermobile joints and low muscle tone and really struggles over any distance. However, he is almost 6 and although he is small for his age, he is quite gangly and loves to wedge his feet under the wheels of normal buggies which is a nightmare! He was so well supported in the Bumbleride Indie. He was high up so could see everything, the huge sunshade hid him from the sun/the Disney parade/other people! The seat is big enough that he could actually sit in it cross-legged! The seat also laid completely flat which was great for when he needed a rest. Also, it is so easy to push that I regularly had to solve disputes between my 10 & 7 year olds over who got to push him around!! It was also completely interchangeable between Thurston and Indigo and she was equally comfortable and happy in the stroller!
Finally, the other thing that kept Thurston (and the other children) occupied and amused all week was our Simon Cowell puppet! My son Zeke got a puppet from his Auntie for his 6th birthday and has insisted ever since that it is Simone Cowell! It goes everywhere with us and became our extra family member on holiday. Finding new and funny ways of photographing Simon on his hols became a great family game and all of us (especially Auntie Rachel) were constantly amused by his little face popping up everywhere!
By the time we got back I was utterly shattered, but so pleased with how the holiday went. In fact, the following day we went to the beautiful wedding of 2 of our best friends and Thurston was just as angelic through the day for that too! He has his moments but this month he has really done me proud!