We left Echuca and our small support team behind, we had just got out of the Caravan park and thought the caravan seemed to be rattling more than usual, we drove on but my better judgement stopped me and I got out to check the coupling over the car tow-ball, in our rush to get the job done we hadn’t locked the coupling over the tow ball, this could have been a disaster!! With a great sigh of relief and another complete check around the van we headed for Swan Hill. Swan Hill is about an hour and a half from Echuca. Because we stayed on an extra day in Echuca we had already visited many of the towns around the area, so Swan Hill was a pretty straight run.
So in our office, the car, Scott and I got to work with writing down some check lists to be followed with the van on arrival and when we leave. Scott loves check lists and with great dexterity he numbered and briefed every action. Although Geoff had gone over all the procedures and rehearsed them with Scott before we left and they were endorsed again by Phil at the first caravan park, he still wasn’t taking any responsibility for the van when we arrived or when we were packing up to leave.
He was anxious on each occasion and become irritable and impatient. I think his anxiety was coming from me giving him the responsibility, but he doubted what he had to do and you don’t have to be autistic to have the same issues. Admittedly I was quietly doubting and feeling anxious every time we’ve had to move on or settle into another new camp site.
Considering Scott is not crazy about change, this is very traumatic for him. He gets very anxious whenever we have to pack up and move on and again when we arrive and unpack and as we are moving nearly every second or third day his anxiety makes him very irritable and twitchy.
Interesting thing when we got on the road, I asked Scott if he had put the jockey wheel back in the cupboard of the van. Immediate with great confidence the answer was yes all done, no doubts. I would have to go back and check, and doubt myself, imagining that I had left it on the grass, you know that feeling when you think you’ve left the iron on, you just have to go back. But I trusted him completely, as he has no emotional ties to the action and his mind is clear and confident about what’s been done, I envy that confidence.
At home everyday Scott says “it’s boring” or “that was boring” after almost everything he does. Being bored is very limiting, how can one stretch your imagination and explore if you’re bored? Because Scott has not been able to find a job and he would dearly love one, his routine as with many challenged people is established on a day-to-day basis and then nobody visits it again to see if anything has changed or if anything new been learnt. That doesn’t mean going to the shopping centre or a picnic lunch at the park or other fruitless ventures, most of us fear we will face that in a nursing home one day.
Since travelling with Scott I really appreciate everybody, no matter how limited, wants routine but they also want variety and need to be confronted at many levels to make changes and learn. I see Scott like a dry sponge, a sponge just sits, because nothing is made available for it to do, then you put the sponge near some water and very quickly because the sponge can absorb the water it grows bigger and has a new purpose, think of all the things you can do with a wet sponge? Scott loves to learn, listen and grow, but his disability is other people, he needs people to keep introducing new experiences because his autism limits his ability to draw the water in himself, but once he is introduced to the water he absorbs it with gusto and uses the information to better his world. This trip is delivering a water fall of information and Scott is flourishing.
Joanne a dear friend phoned us to see how we’re going and to hear about our adventures, Jo knows Scott very well and often interacts with him, but their conversation can be difficult as discussion requires recall and some interesting things that you have in common to talk about. Scott knew it was Jo and he wanted to speak to her and for the first time they had a very normal and interactive discussion, because Scott’s world has been expanded and he has something to say and he wants to impress Jo.
Jo couldn’t believe the conversion on the phone, and she could hear confidence and the changes.