I’m sure I speak for many autism moms when I say: damn the balloons.
Obviously Disneyland is full of balloons. And for the most part, Justin’s been OK with that; he doesn’t seem bothered by kids holding giant Mickey balloons on a string. But he had a mini-meltdown in the middle of the Muppet Vision 3D show when a 3D fly puffed up like a balloon and then exploded (it was going so well up until then!) We didn’t actually have to leave the theatre, but he was clearly traumatized, and spent the next hour complaining that Muppets are evil (sigh).
Then later, as we were leaving the park, a girl walking next to Justin had a balloon animal and a stick, and she kept popping the pieces. To his credit, he didn’t flip out; but he did have to walk with his hands over his ears, and he was quite relieved when she finally put the thing in the garbage.
The balloon phobia reared its ugly head again at dinner time. A very talented balloon artist was making the rounds of the restaurant, creating extraordinary animals for the kids. The sound of the twisting balloons was clearly bothering Justin (who, like so many kids on the spectrum, has super sensitive hearing). Again, he didn’t melt down, but he covered his ears and looked quite uncomfortable. Then the guy arrived at our table and offered to make animals for the boys. I’m sure Brayden would’ve liked one, but he knew that was a no-go. We just explained that balloons make Justin quite anxious; the guy apologized and left, and Justin could finally relax. Whew.
Despite all that, we did have a good day. We walked on to our first three rides with no waiting, then had lunch at ESPN Zone and let the boys play in the arcade for a bit. Then came the unfortunate Muppet experience, but we recovered by riding Monsters Inc, having some ice cream and doing Splash Mountain (which was especially nice as the temperature was well above 30). Harmony was restored.
Chris and the kids are shopping right now (back to the Lego store!) and then I think they might hit the pool for a bit before bed. One more day…