He’s been clear from the very start. Outdoor Science School is a valuable experience. For other kids.
Beernut: We saw a video today about Outdoor Science School. I’m not going.
FrumeSarah: Why aren’t you going?
Beernut: Mo-om! There’s hiking at Science School. You know I don’t hike. And I don’t like being outdoors.
Now there’s hiking and then there’s hiking. According to the Outdoor Science School website, “our classrooms are outdoors on well-marked trails.” And the schedule does include a lot of hikes. Anywhere from one to THREE hikes each day. So for a self-proclaimed non-hiker, and one who doesn’t like being outside, this might be a problem.
One of the difficulties of having Asperger’s is that there is an illusion of competency. To the outside adult world, Beernut seems like a well-mannered, interesting young man. What the majority don’t see is he completely falls apart as soon as the school day ends. And that is already a vast improvement over last school year when the meltdowns often occurred at school.
Poppyseed: Well if Beernut isn’t going to Science School, then I’m not going when I’m in the fifth grade.
Beernut: No, Poppyseed, you’re going to go. It’s really interesting and you’ll have a lot of fun. It’s just not the right thing for me.
With three summers of camp under his belt, Beernut has a pretty good idea of what to expect while at Science School and while this is only a four day program, it is four, twenty-four hour days. Meaning — no down time from the constant barrage of sounds, expectations, new surroundings, and other external stimuli that can make life overwhelming for those on the Spectrum.
As his mother, I know that part of my job is to pry Beernut loose from his comfort zone and help him expand beyond that very limited place. It is also my job to protect him. And respect his emerging self-awareness. And not get caught up in the never-ending grief process of mourning the “normalcy” that is not to be.
How do I know what is the right decision?