So, we did a short four day "kind of" staycation to Kaua'i. Yes, it did involve a short 30 minute flight from O'ahu to Kaua'i and it did require that we rent a car and book a place to stay, normally at a small cottage out of the way of the typical tourist destinations. But, it always feels like going home since that is where most of my family still lives and where I was raised.
It was a great time, relatives (like us) who no longer call Kaua'i there permanent place of residence, came "home". So it was time to have family gatherings, which involved of course lots of authentic Hawaiian food. My wife spent one short afternoon tying up lau lau for the imu. However, most of our days were spent at the beach or hiking trails (lots of outdoor activity, as is always the case for Kaua'i). I even borrowed one of my brother's boards to catch a surf session at Pakala beach (like riding a bicycle). I even took my youngest son out to teach him. We did lots of others things that included the whole family, swimming in the ocean closer to shore and fishing (and yes we caught fish). It was a full weekend plus some. It wore all of us out, but in a good way.
Kenji, had a great time, but by the time we were ready to go, he was tired and likely overly stimulated. We normally check in at the airport during lull times, that is we check the flight schedule and anticipate most people arrive around 75 to 60 minutes prior to any flight. So, understanding the schedule is important for us and we look at a 120 - 90 minute window so that the check in at the kiosk and security stations are not populated with too many people. However, we did little to prepare him, since I was able to get all on the pre-TSA approved list
which meant not
taking off of foot ware as is normally required. My son instinctively took off his shoes, and to top it off his number came up to randomly check him. Wow, thank you TSA
We did at that point tell them he was autistic and thus they then asked us lots of approval questions and whether he would cooperate with certain procedures. I said yes, but that still did not sit well with him and all this new stuff just overwhelmed him. I also did not do respond well as I tried to hurry him along through TSAs procedures (he needs time to process new things). He lost it. When we got through the last of the screening, he had a full No Hold Bar
ASD meltdown. Now for those of you who are not familiar, ASD kids don't do meltdowns to manipulate parents, they don't try to get something from or to key in on getting parents to change their immediate actions. The cool down procedure is best facilitated by placing the individual in a quiet place for them to reset their mind. Of course no place like that truly exist in an airport setting. And, no giving or taking away things helps and often will make it worse since it is more stimuli and added stress. Anyways at that immediate moment, it was not good
. We did attract the attention of security, which in an airport is never a good deal. We had cards that we handed out to the security in the surrounding area. A few of them rolled their eyes, but one guy got it and understood. Told the others to leave and he helped us through the situation. Finally 15 minute prior to boarding my son was back to his self and all was good. BTW, we did thank that security guard, got his name and I plan on writing a favorable letter on his behalf.
I am sure it was just a combination of things (long weekend of lots of activities and people - family but still a lot of them) and the new TSA procedures that were placed on him. This morning when the boys were still sleeping my wife and I did a debriefing to figure out what we could have done and where it all went wrong to again not place ourselves in that situation again. As always, it comes back to one big thing, spending the time to prepare Kenji for how things were going to proceed at the airport even before we get there. A tough lesson to learn and as always a humbling experience to just have me realize I have so much more to learn about being a dad.