It is no secret that neither of my boys cope brilliantly with change and so preparing them both for their recent holidays has been ‘interesting’ to say the least.
Preparing Beeswax for his exciting week away skiing with school had proved somewhat difficult, primarily because he is a blooming teenage boy and no way, no how is he going to confess to being worried about his trip and all that this involves. Maybe this is the wrong way of saying this, but thankfully Waxy has communicated his anxiety through the leakage in his behaviour and Bumble and I have tried our best to support him (well, I say try, more like we have almost been on our knees trying to keep him from completely self-destructing and taking us all with him).
There was a limit to how much we could help Waxy because, quite honestly, we had been given even less information than Waxy and his peers about the details of the trip (we were given more details the week before his trip).
For both boys it was going to be their first experience of travelling on an aeroplane and going on the volume of questions Bumble and I were receiving, we knew this was something that both boys needed more preparation. Thank heavens for the internet and all its wonderful access to information. Bumble and I were able to direct Waxy to web pages that would give him the answers he needed and hopefully it helped allay some of his fears about flying and the expectations of conduct while travelling – he has since informed us that school staff had told the boys that if they swore or ‘kicked off’ then the flight staff would throw them off the plane and call airport police. HELPFUL!!!!!! Anyone would think they weren’t a specialist school with vulnerable pupils who experience complex social and emotional needs and, certainly in Waxy’s case, will take a threat like this quite literally.
All this being said, and after all the heartbreak in the build up to him going away, Waxy has had a ball and by the end of his trip he had been moved with another peer into a more advanced group and was skiing down red slopes and he has admitted he didn’t know why he had been so worried.
Preparing Buzzbee for his holiday has needed careful planning – military style battle plan as Bumble calls it.
In the last year Buzzbee has rapidly become more and more anxious/distressed about change, more so when it comes to visiting places he has never been before or he doesn’t recognise, so by deciding to take him on holiday to Disneyland Paris, Bumble and I were taking a huge gamble that the trip could be a complete disaster if he could not cope with it.
Anyone who have seen my messages on Twitter will know that the trip was a success and that Bumble and I were so proud of how well he did.
Unlike Waxy, who if you give him too much information, or give it to him to early, will wind himself up and fall apart before he has even experienced it, Buzzbee preparation has to be carefully handled and drip fed over several weeks. Usually, as long as he has been involved in decisions about what information he needs, this is enough to then give him the opportunity to familiarise himself just enough beforehand to cope with the transitions involved with going on holiday.
As Buzzbee is not fond of visual timetables, but is fixated on ‘how many sleeps’ there is to anything, he asked if we could make a countdown chart so he could cross the days each day building up to the holiday – for Buzz this was a fantastic tool and something he had complete control over.
As the weeks/days to our holiday drew closer, the volume of questions from Buzzbee came in thick and fast, and required more in-depth explanations and reassurance, and it got to the point where Bumble and I realised that this time, advanced preparation on its own was not going to be enough for him, Buzzbee needed something that could support him throughout his trip as well as during the build up to it. He needed something he could look at before and would take him step by step through the transitions on the day – he needed a transition book or some form of social story tailored for him and including as many of the answers to his questions as we could, and this is just what I did, although at the time I was cursing myself for taking on such a big project while trying to get ready for our holiday and home educating Buzzbee!
This book was an absolute lifeline and in the end, worth every hour I had to spend on it.
But, when it comes down to it. While Bumble and I can lay the foundations and prepare the boys as much as possible for the changes, it is the boys who had to make it work for them, and I am so proud of them for that.
Oh, before I forget…..having an extra few days apart from each other seems to at least for Buzzbee have had the desired effect. He has had the space to recover and has been able to cope so much better with his big brother coming home from his trip, extremely tired and irritable and not letting his brother’s mood trigger him.
This weeks’ #WASO theme is ‘introducing change’.