The next stop was Toys R Us. One goal was to see - if by some miracle - the new TMX Tickle Me Elmo was there. Yeah, right. No Elmo. But the other goal was met: T got to choose a toy, and something really neat happened. As we were walking by the die-cast car section, T said "Car", and as I continued on (I thought he was just identifying, not requesting) he said "NO okay!" which is his unique little way of saying NO. So we went over to the cars, and he chose one. A very nice black 1970 Thunderbird - the kid has good taste. And I love that he loves cars.
Last stop: the Indianapolis Zoo. What a great place! He's really beginning to pay attention to the animals and genuinely seems to enjoy himself. There were many happy moments; the picture above shows one - the Dolphin Adventure Dome! You are actually underwater watching the dolphins swim above & around you. T LOVED it.
Then came the carousel. A nice thing started all of this - a family had some extra ride tickets, saw that we were about to buy some to ride the carousel, and just gave us theirs. How great is that? T loved the carousel - he laughed and smiled the whole time it went 'round & 'round. In fact, he loved it so much that unfortunately he had a complete meltdown when the ride ended. Screaming, pulling my hair, pinching whatever he could grab on me...it was one of the worst tantrums he's had in a long time. But who could blame him? We were doing so many new and different things yesterday, and the meltdown came at 4:00 - past snacktime, and I had taken him off one of the coolest rides he's ever been on. And I must add that the staff at the zoo were so kind - even offered to let him ride again when I explained what was going on. But have no fear - within 10 minutes he had calmed down and was quietly enjoying a granola bar and recovering from the trauma. And we were able to have a nice time for the rest of our visit.
These moments are difficult, but I've discovered that remaining calm really diffuses the situation - even when having my hair pulled or being pinched hard. Boy is that a test when your child is hurting you. He started with these behaviors within the last year, and they really caught me off guard at first, and I'll admit I was not exactly calm when he started. But I noticed pretty quickly that if he got a reaction out of me, he'd do it more. So my experiment with not reacting and remaining calm and understanding seems to be paying off (saying "I know, you didn't want to get off the carousel. You really liked it and you wanted more, but it was all done.") . The hair pulling and pinching has decreased quite a bit. And we are very lucky - I know other kids with autism who tantrum for an hour or more. T has his moments, but never anything like that.
So all in all, a long but really great day. I think this will become a regular occurance - when he needs a haircut, we'll have a big city day.