Before we left for our camping trip I had visions of Isla scootering and riding her bike around the campground following behind her big sisters and her friends acting like a typical “kiwi” kid. However she chose to spend the majority of the time in the safe haven of her virtual world. Don’t get me wrong we went to the beach, we made sandcastles, had chats in the shower and on the beach (she sure can ask a lot of questions) and scootered and biked around a little bit but at any given opportunity she would pick up the iPad to be in her happy place.
I was hoping the offerings of the camping ground would be enough to encourage her to forget the screen for a bit as she is particularly obsessed by Minecraft at the moment. She loves to watch Stampy videos and then spends the rest of the time creating, building and exploring. It amazes me how much she has learnt and how she has mastered it so well which is a plus although distracting her to something else requires a lot of effort and she won’t last long without trying to find the iPad or someone’s phone and sneaking off with it so she can get back on Minecraft.
It’s not just as easy as just taking the iPad away from her either. One morning I tried and it resulted in an hour long meltdown and we had to take her for a drive to calm her down and give our camping neighbours a break. Also without something to ground her she needs one on one attention as will go around touching, dismantling, unscrewing and tripping over things. However it’s not all bad. She managed to hold it together while there was a huge water balloon fight that blocked the way back to our tent and accepted we would have to go back another way, she got back into the ocean even after being knocked down by a couple of waves and she slept well in her bed which was different from home and coped with all the noise when going to sleep (with a little help from our friend melatonin). She tripped over the tent ropes more times than I can count but picked herself up without a fuss, even on New Years Day which is also her birthday she accepted that we wouldn’t be opening her presents before we had packed everything up in the rush to beat the storm.
Camping isn’t the easiest thing with an autistic child. There are the showers and the nightmare of trying not to get her to put the basin plugs in her mouth and lick and touch everything in the communal shower and play with the water that fascinates her that flows from other people’s showers through yours (yuck!). Trying to stop her from turning on all the basin tapes so she can watch the water flowing in the channel below. Taking the stool, toilet seat and iPad to the toilet and having to wait for half an hour while she does her business with other people giving you strange looks…”it’s a sign of the times I guess” one lady said. I couldn’t be bothered explaining myself on that one although I felt like I should and wish I had. All in all though Isla surprised us again by taking it all in her stride and although I was constantly frustrated by her being on the iPad it meant that her sisters had a great Kiwi camping holiday and we got a holiday too.
There were quite a few Isla moments that made me smile. Asking me “when are our visitors going home as they are making a terrible racket and I can’t go to sleep”, singing “happy New Year’s Day” at the top of her voice in the shower, wanting to stay cuddled up on the beach with me and practice singing happy birthday and counting how many hip hip hoorays she could do. Playing teacher with all the kids using the bike bell as the school bell. I think I have become one of those mums that talks about my daughter all the time (sorry friends) but I just can’t help it as I just find her so fascinating and gorgeous and I am so lucky to be her mum.