Geocaching is something you play; for most people it is a game. To my son and I it’s an everyday adventure. For you to understand why I call it an everyday adventure I think I need to explain how it all started. This is how we got to level on, as I call it.
My son was born in the spring of 2000, and I remember being a proud father. I imagine that the first years were more or less similar to what most parents experience, but with time we started to realise that something wasn’t following the “normal” development path of children. One day our son’s day-care asked if we should have a doctor to check up on his hearing, and that’s when we left the well-known path and started a journey that many parents of children with autism spectrum disorder probably will recognise parts of.
As you might understand there was nothing wrong with my sons hearing. One thing lead to another, and by 2005 my son was diagnosed with severe autism spectrum disorder and as intellectually challenged. Asthma, epilepsy and hyperactivity were added to these a little later. As parents we were sent straight out into unknown territory and we got completely lost. Everyone knew a little and more than happily shared their knowledge even if we didn’t want it. Later on we have understood that a lot of the helping hands we were offered didn’t help at all. We read everything we could find, both old and new information, which was another mistake unless you are expert enough to filter out all the old information based on beliefs instead of facts. Our son’s disorder turned out to be so severe that we couldn’t leave him for even short moments alone, and combined with the fact that his sleeping habits was not compatible with his parents’ made us tired. I’ve never been so tired before, not even during my time in the military. One of the most vivid memories I have from this time in my life is how I was out walking with my son in his stroller at 3:30-4:00 in the morning just so the rest of the family could get some sleep.
When you are tired you start to remove things from your life that require energy. In our case it was friends and social life that was removed first, and the strange thing is that we thought we were doing ourselves and our son a favour. After a few years we had become a family so concentrated on our son and his disability, that we didn’t see that we were missing a lot of things that normal families have and do. In a way we became dysfunctional as a family. We even built a house in the countryside and moved out there for our kids’ sake, without thinking about how we further isolated ourselves from our friends. And so I (my wife has her own story) continued further and further down the spiral. At one time in our Life, my son’s sleeping disorder made him wake and scream almost every night between midnight and 4-5 in the morning, forcing me and my wife to take turns to sit with him alternate nights while the other parent got some sleep. As many parents in our situation find, one learns what works and what doesn’t work and in our case we noticed that my son loved to sit in the car and be driven around. There was something about the visual input that made him calmer, so driving around rapidly became our way to spend the time between work and sleep and some days I was driving for hours without a destination.
Then came the day when we reached level one. I remember reading a short article on geocaching on my son’s birthday in 2008. It was on Good Friday, and we were home from work and school. Once it was time to go for a ride to keep my son satisfied, we drove 5 minutes instead of driving around for an hour, got out of the car on a parking place next to our Church, and spent 40 minutes searching for a geocache. When I now look back at that time, I think my son wanted the stimuli from being out and moving around rather than the car trip.
This is where myeand my son’s life took a new turn. We broke the downward spiral and started our everyday adventure.
The dark ages were over for this time and in my next post I’ll let you know how me and my son created something worth so much more than the sum of the components.
Let the game begin!