This year Spring Break, Autism Awareness Month and April Fools Day fell in the same week. Coincidence? I don't think so. Our adventures during these crazy 10 days speak volumes about struggle, success, helpfulness and a whole lot of warm and fuzzy feelings.
I decided to take my son to Tropicana Hotel and Casino for a few days during the Spring Break. Artie had really never experienced an extended hotel stay (extended meaning 3 nights and 4 days) and I thought that it would help to be close to home JUST IN CASE. Every Autism Mom will understand the phrase JUST IN CASE. I have to admit that I was scared to death of Artie wandering off and being used in a Human Trafficking Situation or something terrible. Atlantic City isn't the safest place on earth, but it isn't terrible either.
We checked in and went to dinner, which was an experience all in itself. Seeing Artie order his own food, wait patiently (quite the understatement) and then carry it outside on his own was definitely a liberating feeling. As we sat outside with the 40 MPH winds I thought to myself that this was pretty symbolic of the week, blowing in the wind without direction or thought. He chose to sit outside, so outside we sat. This vacation was about him, not me. Turned out to be a wonderful choice as Artie started dancing to the music that was playing on the outside speakers. What a wonderful feeling to have your child so thoroughly happy.
The pool might have been a mistake. A serious mistake! My best friend joined us for some pool time and was coaxing Artie into the pool. There were approximately 60 children stuffed into this ridiculously undersized swimming pool screaming to beat the band. With much trepidation, Artie decided that he wasn't interested in swimming and as he made the decision I thought to myself how difficult it was for me to be in the pool area with all of the screaming but he was behaving like a gentleman through it all. He was less concerned than I. His decision was confirmed when the lifeguard ordered everyone out of the pool because someone had vomited. The timing was excellent as he never stuck his toe into the pool!
I cannot tell you how proud I was of my son when I became stuck in the bathroom at the Hotel. Only me... The pocket door came off track trapping me inside of the bathroom. Fortunately, it was a large bathroom full of marble and it wasn't such a bad place to be stuck. What is unfortunate is the fact that when Artie did exactly what I directed him to do by calling the front desk and using the buttons on the phone to get help they hung up on him repeatedly thinking he was making prank phone calls. You see, he doesn't have age appropriate speech so they thought that he was a very young child messing with the phone. After about 30 minutes I began to panic when I realized that if he went into the hallway that the door would automatically shut and he cannot read or communicate well. Fortunately, he stretched the phone just far enough for me to yell to the security office to come and help.
"Watch the Tram Car" became our favorite saying. Artie has never been on the Tram Car and neither had I! We purchased all day tickets and started riding. What a wonderful adventure as we met people on the Tram that loved hearing Artie's stories of adventure and how he saved his Mom from the bathroom. We rode the Tram to almost the end of the Boardwalk and dined with a dear friend, laughing and talking without a care in the world. Artie was incredible through all of it and while we were walking back to the hotel and was sharing stories with complete strangers of his adventures.
I learned how to step back a bit and let him make some decisions. It's so hard to do but watching him smile and dance and interact with others was eyeopening. Even the casino staff stopped to talk with him while we were walking through.
We checked out and Artie was able to help the Bell Hop push the cart to Valet. You can see how serious he was about this job which completely makes me smile. He's growing up and into a true gentleman. I am one proud Mom!
Some Highlight Footage of our amazing adventure: