Two little Ducks went swimming one day…

Arthritis / Autism / Disney / General

Do you remember that nursery rhyme? My kids both loved it. Neither have mentioned it for a few years but last week it popped back into my head.

When we decided to go to Disney again, we decided to make it a longer trip. Our last trip with the kids had been hard for Elijah. We weren’t sure if it was that there where more people, that he was more aware of his difficulties and anxiety or simply the transition out of regular routine. This time round, we knew he’d need a day or two to adapt so we made the trip longer.

In the week running up to our holiday, Elijah started to say he didn’t want to go. He was afraid of flying, he couldn’t remember what a plane was like. He didn’t feel well, he didn’t want to leave his friends and he even said he would miss school too much. His sleep was more broken than usual and as his anxiety rose so did his little tics. He would bite at his fingers more often, found it harder than usual to sit still, his moods would change more. At this point you are probably wondering why we as parents would put him through all this. This however is Elijah’s regular reaction to transition. This is what we face two weeks before every school holiday and change in routine. While we knew, and could see Elijah was anxious we knew the end result would be worth it.

The day we where travelling Elijah was anxious. The wait at the airport to board the plane was ‘interesting’ with Megan also very excited. On the plane Elijah put on his headphones and played his game for most of the flight. He clung tightly to Ben. He really didn’t like the window on the plane and as soon as we where in the air he put the shutter down. I’m not totally sure where this has come from as he used to love looking out the window. He still decided that the window seat was better than sitting beside a stranger in the middle seat. The rest of our journey was smooth and Elijah loved our first hotel. The Magic Circus hotel was a big hit with Elijah, as he is loving the Greatest Showman film.

On our first day in Disney we met up with a friend from home. Elijah, did not want to speak to anyone. I do think this was just Elijah adapting to a new situation but it wasn’t a great start. Elijah was reluctant to do anything in the park at first as he was taking in his surroundings. After a little walk with Ben and a trip to the shop to purchase an autograph book, he started to come round. An autograph book is always a good purchase for Elijah. It gives him a purpose in meeting characters and is a good starting point for interaction when social skills can be such a struggle. Thankfully we met two of his favourite characters straight away, Pluto and Stitch. Elijah was even persuaded by stitch to speak in his stitch voice.

It was on our first day that Elijah noticed the two ducks. We where walking across the park and suddenly Elijah stopped in front of the castle. We stopped with him to see what was going on. He was watching a boy and girl duck who where sitting on the grass bank. These ducks, obviously used to being fed regularly where quite tame. They happily waddled toward Elijah and Elijah happily chatted away to the ducks. It is amusing in 12 trips to Disneyland Paris I have never before noticed how many ducks there are.

Quite quickly we started spotting these ducks in various places around the park. It instantly became part of our daily routine to stop every time we saw these two ducks. Elijah was sure we where seeing the same two ducks every time. When we eventually saw bigger groups of ducks he informed us all that these where the first two ducks friends and family. Over the course of the week these ducks developed a back story, names, and a relationship. By the end of the week our whole group where as excited about the ducks as Elijah was.

This might seem silly, but those ducks became a comfort blanket to Elijah. As the temperature dropped and our days got a little more tricky to navigate, those ducks where all it took to ease Elijah’s anxiety and lift our spirits. When my son is anxious, I am anxious. This Disney trip was a treat for Megan’s 10th birthday. I did not want autism to control our trip and overshadow her experience, but I was aware I needed my son to be comfortable and at ease in order for us all to enjoy our trip.

What I realised is that Autism always shapes our trips, it is such a huge part of our everyday lives, in ways we realise and ways we don’t. In actual fact, the things about autism that change our ‘normal’ and shake our perception and journey are the things that we as a family look back on with the happiest memories. There where so many incredible magical moments on our trip that will stay in our minds for a long time to come. However those ducks and the joy the brought us will always have a very special part in my heart.

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1 Comment

  • Lou

    Lovely ?

    03/23/18 – 15:33