* I’m still in catching up mode. If you are a loyal follower of this blog, I offer my deepest apologies for not having posted regularly for about 10 weeks. See, about that time, I took on a new adventure of being a full-time substitute for an amazing high school social studies teacher who was on maternity leave. Clearly, some things had to go just to keep up with everything between school, our family, my photography, and my part-time work with our church. There just weren’t enough hours in the day to continue everything, so blog-posting was one that had to go on the back burner. However, I kept writing. It’s one of those things that I find I simply can’t not do. It just happens. So while I wasn’t posting, I was still writing. It’s time now to catch up. Thank you for sticking with me! 🙂 Here’s “A Glimpse Into His World” from July 9, 2015.
.A GLIMPSE INTO HIS WORLD
I’ve often wondered what Ben was thinking, especially in his most challenging moments. What is creating the challenge? What is the most difficult thing about the present situation? And of course, what, if anything, can I possibly do to help him work through it?
Ben has long loved to watch videos of fireworks either via YouTube, Facebook, or the in the introduction of various videos and DVDs. While he loves the idea of fireworks, he has never been able to fully enjoy them as they simply were too loud. The sound was overwhelming, causing him to curl up as tight as he possibly could and bury his face into whoever he was sitting with. This practice became known to all as “Watching Fireworks with My Eyes Closed,” yet another situation in which I wondered what we could do to make it possible for him to open his eyes.
We had tried talking him through it. We tried holding his head covering his ears. We tried wrapping in blankets, singing, rocking, watching from the car (Not so good if family time is what you’re after. And it gets extremely warm on most July nights!), and even headphones to drown out the sound, all to no avail.
However, last year for his birthday, Ben received a gift as close to perfect for him as could possibly be from his grandparents: Noise Reduction Headphones. What is this amazing creation I’d never heard of? Turns out they’re quite common among hunters, marksmen, and special needs individual with sensory challenges. Who knew!?
What a dream they are! They turned a much too loud and scary gymnasium during his brother’s championship regional basketball game into just another night in a gym, so we were anxious to give them a try on fireworks.
July 4th was a relatively normal day in our home including continued flood recovery work, photo editing, and lots of times for games, drawing, singing, dancing, tickling, and talking trying to prepare Ben for the upcoming fireworks at which we’d meet his grandpa and older siblings after a couple of days apart. When he realized the day had come, he jumped up and excitedly exclaimed, “And I can watch fireworks with my eyes closed. I can do THAT!”
My heart sank. “Not again,” ran through my mind as the pity party set into my heart and the questions began – Is it the noise? Is it too loud? Too bright? Too hot? Too late? Too long? Too what? And of course, how can we help?
We let him play through the morning and discussed timeframes and such over lunch. He clued into the conversation and realized we were talking about fireworks. He said, “No thank you. I don’t no want to go. Too loud. FIREWORKS ARE SCARY!” and so I had an answer: too loud and scary.
No kidding! All those words together! And yet, there really wasn’t any way around it without altering plans and creating an extra hour of drive time in an already long day for the others, not to mention giving up a family tradition that the rest of us thoroughly enjoy, look forward to all year long, and desperately want to share as a family. So I reminded him of the headphones he wore in the way too loud gym while Tom played basketball and how they made the gym not so scary anymore. He actually seemed to remember and said okay. We were back on track!
On the way over to our local display, the pleas of watching with his eyes closed began again. We agreed, but offered to put the headphones on once we arrived anyway. He took us up on that offer, and after a lot of coaxing to open his eyes so he could see where he was walking, we were off. He even played at the park while we waited for the fireworks, ran to greet his siblings and grandpa, and enjoyed a little marker time. It was a great start and because random fireworks had been going off throughout the town, it seemed we may be in for a good night. And a good night it was!
Our biggest surprise came with a glimpse into his world. Once the fireworks got started, his eyes grew to nearly half the size of his little face and in a voice so full of wonder we could barely hear him, he whispered, “Wow – fireworks are so colorful!”
And there we had it – a look at the world through his eyes. He had never been able to keep his eyes open for real fireworks, so he didn’t even realize they were so colorful. I asked him if he knew they were colored or if he thought they were all white. A single word answer, “White.”
Later in the evening, we went for a walk. I asked him if he was enjoying the fireworks.
“Yes. Fireworks are colorful, Mommy. Look at that! There are lots of colors!”
Indeed there are. I got to thinking, wondering about how many times I think he knows something or understands exactly how something is or works, but only because I know how it is. I wondered how many other things in his life will be “so colorful” once he is able to process everything going on around him, and I was so thankful for those headphones I never knew existed, but are so completely common to so many around me. Seems we learn a lot from each other these days and I wouldn’t have it any other way.