Whenever we want to do something big and fun that typical kids get to do, it takes careful planning. We spend most of the time wondering if we’re crazy for making her do some of these things, and the rest of the time worrying that she’ll hate it. But we’re dedicated to making sure her childhood is no different than anyone else’s childhood. So, if it creates a little more stress for us, so be it.
One of her favorite radio stations is the Kidz Bop station. It’s current songs covered by kids. It’s not awful, it allows us to stay up to date with current music, and Maggie loves it. They started announcing upcoming concerts a few months ago and we knew we had to take her. But, Maggie doesn’t love crowds. Or loud music. She wouldn’t stay in her seat and she might melt down requiring us to leave, wasting whatever money tickets would be. The concert is late, past her bedtime, and if she’s too tired, too hot or too frustrated, she may experience some seizure activity. Plus the venue is outdoors in the sun. These are some of our worries for something as simple as a two hour show intended for kids.
We take it one step at a time. Before mentioning anything about it to Maggie, we research – the venue, the space, wondering what our options. As it turns out tickets are available for handicapped kids at a discounted rate. Though Maggie isn’t in a wheelchair, her push chair acts as one on intense outings, so we can make use of wheelchair seating. Taking a look at the map of the venue, there’s seats out of the way, back in the mezzanine, where volume is less likely to be a concern. Double check.
We started using ear plugs at crowded events, and that’s really helped mitigate her frustration, but even so, 1000 screaming children is at a decibel level that can pierce through almost anything and there’s only one real cure for Maggie in those situations – french fries. Looking at the menu from the venue, that’s on the list! Triple check. Maybe we can go to this after all!
We check the weather app – a perfect 70 degrees at the time of the show. OK fine! Let’s tell Maggie. For weeks we talk to her about it, explain to her what she should expect and every day it’s palpable how she’s getting more and more excited. We push her bedtime a little here and there so staying up late isn’t an issue. And concert day, what would you know, she could not stop screaming in joy.
It seems to us the key to a successful outing with a special needs kid – preparation. You have to prepare the kid for what’s about to happen, prepare with all the gear and adaptive equipment you might need, and prepare yourself that the kid might have the time of their life!