Me and Jacob

Me and Jacob

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Beach Woes

We're leaving for the beach in a few days and I'm starting to reminisce the previous summers leading up to this one. The summer's that Jacob was scared of the beach and everything pertaining to it. We missed out on a lot of beach fun because of his anxiety about the sand and the water. Last spring I was introduced to the movie "Temple Grandin" and it changed my outlook on Jacob's anxiety. Temple was a girl with autism and her story is remarkable, but what I learned so much from her story wasn't about her, it was about her mom and her mom's perseverance to make sure Temple was able to experience the things that every child experiences and loves. She talked about how her mom encouraged (aka forced) her to do things that she was fearful of. Temple eventually was so grateful to her mom for forcing her to do things she wasn't comfortable with. Now she has taught herself to try things even if they scare her because she might end up liking them or at least be able to tolerate them. So last spring, against everything that I had been doing with Jacob, I decided to force him onto the beach. I remember my dad carrying him across the sand, Jacob kicking and screaming the whole way, me and my mom crying and Caleb just watching as if we were strangling his brother. I debated the whole way whether or not we were doing the right thing because it felt like we were just torturing my 4 year old innocent son for no reason. It was so difficult to see him be so fearful of something that most kids love. We spent about 30 minutes out in the sand trying to get Jacob comfortable by building sandcastles like "Max and Ruby" (Jacob's favorite cartoon). He eventually quit screaming long enough to look at the sandcastle and smile for a moment. The next morning we woke up and Jacob said "I go make sandcastle's like Max Ruby." I was amazed!! So off we went back to the beach and although we had to carry him across the sand and place him on a towel so the sand wouldn't touch him, he had fun. We went home from that trip in hopes that Jacob would do even better the next time and a week later he was begging to go back!! So, my parents and I made an impromptu decision to take the boys back to the beach and we left 3 hours later. Jacob, without hesitation ran onto the beach like he'd never had a fear about it before. I couldn't believe my eyes and honestly could barely watch him enjoy it from the tears welling up inside. This year as we prepare for the beach I've had to make a calendar so he can visually count down the days till we go so he'll quit asking me when we're leaving. I never dreamed he would be begging me to take him to the beach!! So, from now on I've promised myself that I will make him endure things at least once so that maybe, just maybe, he'll learn to overcome his fears and learn to love it!!

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