Tuesday, 17 May 2011

A Sneak Peek Into Date Night For Parents Of A Child With Autism (Well, at least our first date night in a long time)

It's been such a long time since Glen and I went on a date.  A looooooong time.  So long in fact, I snuck my kindle into my purse, just in case. 

We both kind of felt awkward.  Neither one of us knowing where to go or what to do.  During the last week I told him to think about where he wanted to go, letting him surprise me and asked what time to book the respite sitter for, only to be told "I don't know."  I booked the respite sitter from 6pm until 10pm. 

Finally, date night arrives, and with it, the respite sitter.  I grab my purse (my trusty kindle ready with a new book to read, just in case) and Dayton's Sensory Profile for us to review.  I know, I know...  how romantic.  But I like to be efficient.  I didn't want to review this with Glen and chance Dayton overhearing me trying to explain to Glen what it all means.  You see, I am Dayton's main care taker.  When the appointments are booked, they're booked with me - all of them.  I can count on one hand how many Occupational Therapist, child psychiatrist, Speech therapist, pediatrician, CFS, school, school division, advocacy group, social skills and doctor appointments Glen has attended during the last nine years.  When I start talking "sensory issues, picture schedules, social stories, shotty neurotransmitters, autistic behavior, phonics, behavior therapy, wait watch & wonder, floor play, etc., Glen's eyes take on a kind of glossy look.  I can tell he's not hearing or understanding what I'm talking about, but nodding his head and making grunting noises as if he understands, just to make me stop talking.  So I figure it's time for a crash course in autism lingo and hopefully an understanding of what is happening for Dayton in his world.

We jump in the truck and he asks me where we're going.  I told him he had a week to decide, "so start driving."  At this point I just want to have one meal without little fingers in my food.  He decides on Olive Garden.  Sweet!!!  My favorite restaurant!!!  I didn't think he cared...  See, we're having some "issues," seperation does that.

When we were told there was a 45 minute wait for a table, my immediate reaction was to look down to my left and begin to say "there's no way Dayton will be able to wait that long," then realized he wasn't with me.  It was just Glen and I.  I felt a pang of guilt leaving Dayton at home while I dined at the Olive Garden.  I then wondered if Glen would be able to patiently wait for 45 minutes. 

We waited outside, enjoying the sunshine and the light wind.  We talked about the weather, Glen's truck making funny noises, our camping trip we're planning for the May long weekend...  then just kind of sat there silently.  Finally our table came up!  Awesome, by now I'm starving, and getting bored to the point where I had used my blackberry to go on facebook...  We're so out of sync!  What happened to us?

We sit down, open our menus and discuss our food choices.  I feel this kick at my shin."What did momma tell you about kicking under the table babe?"  It was a knee jerk reaction.  Glen just kind of looked at me sideways.  "Sorry, I was just trying to stretch my legs.  Where's the bathroom in this place?"
"Right in front of us to the left.  Don't sit on the seat and don't forget to flush the toilet."
"Sorry, habit..."
"I'm back.  Did the waitress come by yet to take our order?"
"Not yet, I see her coming now.  Did you flush the toilet?  Did you wash your hands and turn the water off with the paper towel like momma showed you?"
"Stop it." 
"Here we are, here's your napkin, and don't forget...  Talking with your mouth full is rude buddy, so remember to chew, swallow, then talk.  Don't want you choking."
"You don't have to cut my meat for me...  Stop it!  You need help woman.  Maybe there's a momma anonymous somewhere in the city.""
"Sorry, habit...  Speaking of Dayton and habit...  I want to review his Sensory Profile with you.  You need to understand..."  You can imagine the rest.  By the end of the profile, the man actually had drool coming out the side of his mouth and his eyes were mare slits from the sheer boredom of reading the twenty page profile.  I almost felt sorry for him, but then remembered my life, and the expectations placed on it.  I remembered the crankiness, the IBS from the stress of it all.  I need to share this responsibility with him, get his input and have Glen understand that there are things he's being unfair towards Dayton with.

Just because Dayton looks typical, does not mean he understands.  Reviewing his Sensory Profile hopefully opened Glen's eyes to this.  Dayton has visual, sensory and auditory issues.  Asking Dayton what is 1+1 is difficult for Dayton to process, but writing the same question on a piece of paper helps him better understand the question.

So, in other words, our date ended up revolving around Dayton.  Go figure.  LOL.  Maybe our next date will have more focus on us as a couple.  The good news is that we both got home and no one got hurt.  No arguments, and I felt like we had a calm discussion regarding Dayton's future.

Consider yourselves hugged,


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