When Nathan was small, he couldn't say Autistic very well. He kept telling people he needed to wear earplugs because he's Artistic. Good enough--we knew what he meant.
We've spent his whole life trying to heap on therapies that might help him out, working with him to get through anxiety and sensory issues, while at the same time trying to pretend that he can do everything we do and 'force' him to learn to cope in difficult situations.
We're big museum goers. I love museums--and I REALLY love obscure museums. And it doesn't have to be obscure to qualify--just obscure to me. Take the Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame. That's an internationally known and loved museum. But I'm not a rodeo fan...so I qualified it as obscure to us. So his whole life, he's been forced to learn to cope with the sensory issues at museums. Some are very loud. Some smell funny. Some have weird lighting. Museums can really bombard a kid living on the edge of sensory overload.
Imagine life where everything is magnified 10 times. So a whisper is as loud as a shout to you. The rotten garbage smell can keep you awake (and nauseous) at night. And then add people. People can be loud, they can smell, there's a lot of hidden social rules that don't make sense.
Museums are not always fun for Nathan. But neither are restaurants, amusement parks, the regular park, school, home or anything you can think of--depending on the day. Yet, since we've always made this a part of every trip, every vacation and every school break, it's something he has learned to enjoy. We take it slower (or faster if it's rough going). We take earplugs and sometimes use them. We take long bathroom breaks (which is a little sensory time out for Nathan) and we give him snacks every so often.
Now, he even suggests museums to go to. And when I watch him work through sensory situations that in the past would have driven him over the edge, I realize it's true...
Autism is Nathan's Super-Power!