When September rolls around each year there are a few givens; the new school year begins, the Twin’s and Grammy’s birthdays take place, the season officially changes from summer to fall and our family talks about when we will go to King Richard’s Faire. All great things, right? Well, not exactly, as for this mama, the Faire is a source of great stress. Why? Well as my husband says, “You must be the only theatre actor that doesn’t like to dress up.” Well, I don’t know about the entire population of theatrical actors, but he is correct, I hate it. But, alas, I do it to please my family and to be a good role model for Remy.
This year, however, was slightly better as I purchased a dress that I actually liked and felt comfortable in. Remy, on the other hand, had out-grown the costumes I had made for him over the years and I have been so wrapped up in getting this site up and off the ground that making a new outfit slipped my mind. Thankfully, we had planned to go on the Harry Potter ™ themed weekend and like any good Potter Heads, we have Gryffindor robes, a neck-tie, grey slacks, white button down, glasses and BAM! We have our little Harry Potter!
The best part is that he loved wearing it! I’ll talk about it more in a future blog post but we have been fortunate that Remy hasn’t had any clothing aversions to date. He will wear anything you hand him with the exception of ripped jeans because, as he says, “ Pants are broken Mama”.
Once we were all dressed and ready to go, we loaded into the car and set off for “Carvershire” for our day in the Renaissance. Since Remy has significant delays in both receptive and expressive language, we were not sure if he understood where we were going. He mentioned quite a few times “Halloween”, which made perfect sense as we were dressed in costume, but we did explain that, no, it wasn’t Halloween yet .
When we arrived at our destination, it still wasn’t clear if he had any memory of being at the faire the previous year. He definitely was curious, admiring all the unique accoutrements that adorned the eager visitors. He was particularly interested in a person with a bright multicolored mohawk and very large ear gauges as it’s not something he sees everyday on Cape Cod. We shuffled through the throng of people, handed over our tickets and stepped into the alternate realm when Remy’s eyes lit up and he promptly said “May I have horses please”. Rob and I looked at each other, smiled and something changed within us. Going to the faire was no longer about our personal enjoyment but about his. It was clear that not only did he remember, (which to be honest, the kids brain is a steel trap so we should never have doubted) but he had fond memories and was pleased to be there.
Last year, as we wandered around the fair grounds, we passed by horse rides and Remy pointed to them. You see, Remy had not touched any animal, except the occasional pat on our dog Nessie, since he was nipped by a chicken during a field trip 2 years prior. Needless to say, we didn’t think he would actually get on the horse to ride it, but we always try. To our complete astonishment, he did indeed mount the horse with some trepidation but with a mission in mind that was clearly written across his face. They sat him on a white horse that had a unicorn horn cleverly strapped to it’s head. Remy squealed saying “Cornica”. It was then that everything became clear. To make a long story short, Cornica is a “sea-unicorn” from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” on Disney Junior. He absolutely loved the episode in which she appears and watched it over and over at the time.
This year Remy walked up onto the mounting platform and waited for a horse. He chose the biggest one available and like a pro, hopped on with Rob’s assistance. Like last year, he grabbed onto the saddle horn with one hand and grabbed the handlers hand with the other. She graciously obliged without a second thought. All of the handlers have always been very nice and accommodating.
Jumping a little ahead, I’ll mention that after lunch Remy requested “May I have horses, 1 more time, please”. We, of course, obliged, without hesitation, as watching him enjoy something so thoroughly, is priceless. When we returned, he immediately spotted his old pal “Cornica” who wasn’t present in the morning. He asked for her by name and while the handler was very confused, the horn-laden horse was next in line and Remy’s sheer excitement told the handler all she needed to know.
One thing is clear, this boy is going to start horse back riding lessons, pronto! Now if the farm would only return my call! Once the first horse ride was completed he asked for a swing. We realized that he was following the same order of activities that he did last year, so we knew that the maze/slide and the game where you wack a piece of wood to launch a stuffie trying to make a basket, was going to be on the activity itinerary. I wish I could convey his excitement through my words, as his joy was palpable. The bonus was that all the activities gave a sensory experience, which can be important in an autist’s life.
Now the word “typical” doesn’t usually go along with autism, but there are some characteristics which are very common and sensory-seeking and avoiding is one of them. Remy, on the other hand, is a bit “atypical” in this area. He does enjoy various sensory experiences and will bounce to his heart’s content or play tag at a drop of a hat, but he doesn’t sensory-seek in the same way that I have experienced with other child autists. For one, it doesn’t seem to be a response to anxiety and if you ask him to stop, he doesn’t respond with anxiety either. He will simply stop and move onto another activity. With that said, he really enjoys things like going really fast in a boat or the feeling of going down a big slide. He loves to swing and is elated when he can go really high like he did at the faire.
Rob took him onto this swing where each side has a rope they can pull to get the swing flying high. Remy of course doesn’t have the body mass to have an impact so he just enjoys the ride as Rob pulls that cord. Like any great father, Rob pulled that cord with all his might so his son could have the best experience ever. He got a great arm work out for sure because, of course, we had to do the swing twice!
I want to mention the “Slide”. You have to make your way through a maze in order to get to the slide. The first go around, Rob took Remy and let him make all the decisions without his input. He did pretty well, a few dead ends, but he didn’t get frustrated and eventually made it to the slide. The second go around, I took him. The little bugger memorized the layout! He swiftly and accurately made his way around and made it to the slide in no time. Now, one thing he gets a kick out of is watching us go down the slide and boy did he get a treat. Remember that dress I mentioned earlier? Well it’s a very slippery, synthetic fabric, which made me fly down the slide so fast that I over-shot the landing pad. Thankfully, I got my feet beneath me and stood up at the last second, narrowly missing taking out my little man. He, of course, thought it was hysterical.
We had such a fun day, experiencing the fair through Remy’s eyes. We got to: see him eat his first soft serve ice cream out of a cone, his delight as he watched a 13 week old African Serval bounce around its enclosure, cautiously take a photo with a gargoyle, cheer for our assigned knight at the joust and much more. At about 3:30, it was clear that both Remy and Grammy were wiped out, so Grammy volunteered to take him home and let us stay at the fair until the final performance was over. Rob and I walked around and rather than bask in the solitude and lack of responsibility, we instead recounted our day and vocalized that the faire wasn’t what it used to be to us. It was now about Remy and his experiences attending the fair year after year and our pride, watching the progress he makes along the way. The fair isn’t what it used to be; it’s so much better.