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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Carousels

The calliope sings its tune, beckoning all to join it for a ride back into time, to simpler days filled with whoops of delight, mouths full of cotton candy and the carefree joy of a day at the amusement park, the boardwalk or the local fair.

"The carousel!" the music calls to you. "Come and take a ride on the carousel!"

Yeah. Don't let that music fool you. In our household, the scene is never simple. Carousels are one of our older son's "things." He is obsessed about them in a way only a child with autism can be. I can safely say that we support an annual $1000 carousel habit. Lucky us! Our area has them in our malls! We visit them daily. We have them ranked--some are faster, some louder. Some are just more awesome than the others.

When he hears the music of the carousel, my husband and I enter high alert status.
Our son's pace quickens as he goes in search of that music. His eyes search the scene. Where is it? Where can it be? When finally he finds his beloved carousel, WATCH OUT! Bolting is about to begin!!

Our son is a bolter. He doesn't care that we fear for his safety. He only cares about his interests. Often, he bolts to ditch us and to get into trouble. I've lost count of the number of high speed chases I've had with this child in public places. I have no ego. I have no shame. Go ahead and stare, my friends. This child is nonverbal and has no danger awareness. Yes, I am going to chase after him.

These days, he is most interested in the mechanics of the carousels, much to the horror of the operators. It all started with the buttons that controlled it. As his mother, may I ask the Powers That Be---why, oh WHY do the buttons have to be BRIGHT RED??? They would call to me as well if I were in his shoes...

Holding both of his hands and pushing him past the control panel, we make it onto the carousel. He's in Heaven! The lights! The music! I love to watch him drink it all in. Yet, soon, you can see the wheels of his mind turning. He's plotting his next move. You see, he knows that the button on the control panel activates the carousel, but that button isn't what actually makes it MOVE. And what makes it move, he has surmised, must be in the center of these carousels, past the fence and behind the closed door that few people actually notice.

Oddly enough, that closed door is rarely locked. We know this because our son has jumped the gate and run into the center of the carousels a few times. Ahhhhh, the allure of the forbidden fruit.

Sometimes, he'll just lie down on the floor and look underneath the carousel to try to catch a glimpse of its underside. I'm over the embarrassment. If I can move past the fatigue created by trying to reign him in, I actually find the way his mind works to be fascinating. And, I wish he could talk to me about what he's thinking.

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