Autism and Tent Camping
Jess is autistic, blind, and developmentally disabled. We have been on a camping adventure. She is a good traveler and can talk me through an entire 10 hour drive. I mean like, talk, constantly. It becomes like a chant and hard to pay attention to. Almost every group of comments ends in a question that is basically worded to get an affirmation. I get pretty good at anticipating whether to say, yes, or no, or mumble, uh huh, or huh uh.
For a week now, this has been my peaceful waking morning view.
Jess is an experienced camper. She has been camping all her life. Most of that was in a camper, but I sold the camper a few years ago due to my fatigue with independently managing the hook up, set up and the reverse of that.
Most of the time she is sort of resistant to the idea of tent camping. Many campsites can be difficult to navigate due to her cortical blindness. Some campgrounds we go to don’t even have electricity. But this time, she has been happy with the trip.
Maybe it’s because I have all of her important belongings within reach so that she can do her routine check 10 times to make sure it hasn’t magically moved elsewhere.
I have a little table beside her that has her deck of cards in a bag, her iPad, and her headphones. Her phone is hanging in a pocket above her, and her charger is plugged in so the unthinkable, a dead battery, won’t happen.
We have seen some beautiful beaches and great sunsets.
We certainly had our moments, such as this when we waited too long to eat and she had a serious hangry moment while waiting on our delicious NY Pizza.
Other than a few rough moments, she stayed pretty happy like when she was flipping her cards while I got a little work done.
The best part was getting to spend time with Nonnie and Granddad.
However, all good things must end, and I am ready to go home. It does become pretty tiring to be woken up one or twice a night by a sweet little voice saying, “Mama, I need to go pee.”
When I try to put her off, she repeatedly says, “Mama, I really need to pee.” So, I eventually wake up enough to climb out of the tent.
I have always tried to not let Jessica’s disabilities keep me from doing regular kinds of things. We travel, including camping, two or three times a year. It takes a little extra patience, a little extra energy, and a little extra planning. Sometimes in the midst of a trip, I might have a moment (or two or three) where I question whether or not it’s worth it. But, when looking back, I always feel like it was worth it.
Pray for our safety (and my sanity) as we head north today.