TRAVELOGUE

A travelogue can be described in a variety of terms. It can be a film or show describing travel. A work of literature in narrative form recounting travel is another form, or it can simply be a journal of everyday events written during a journey.
I suppose in one sense this blog could be considered a travelogue. If that is the case, then based on what I have learned about the journey I would suggest a new name for this journal. I suggest…
An E-ticket ride on the Acronym Highway!
Much like the interwoven maze of off-ramps and interchanges on the Jersey Turnpike, the road of Autism is a tangle of ups, downs, dead ends, roundabouts, high-speed lanes, construction zones, toll roads, and occasional bypasses down sentimental side streets. Unlike the Jersey Turnpike, you wont cross the Pennsylvania Turnpike, enter Goethals Bridge, set your cruise control on the Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway, pull off at any AAA rated rest area, drive through the Lincoln Tunnel, or access any E-ZPass toll booths!
On the contrary you will see lanes marked:
- ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) – that’s normally a high-speed lane!
- OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) – traditionally a curb lane, with backing and sudden stops allowed.
There will be stretches of the road where the lanes are constricted by:
- GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) – these are sometimes very long tunnels
- SID (Sensory Integration Dysfunction) – similar to roundabouts, but with speed bumps, cattle guards, potholes, ruts, and anything else to add to the feeling of the road!
Rest stops are replaced by Respite Care, but are often spread widely throughout the journey depending on your DDD (Department of Developmental Disability) coverage.
Construction zones are frequent. Warnings such as “Congestion Ahead,” “Be Prepared to Stop,” “No Outlet,” “Bump,” “Dip,” “Uneven Lanes,” “Flying Rock,” “Fresh Oil,” “Rough Road,” and my personal favorite “Flooded” are seen repeatedly.
Let me give you an example

DAY ONE:  P-p-p-poker Face
Veteran’s Day and everybody is home. Sounds like a great time to go out to eat as a family.

"Everybody in the car, we're going out to eat!"

With six people in the mix, it gets a little difficult picking a place to eat. For Ethan however it is rather simple: McDonalds, Burger King, Dominos, or Papa Johns.
So that’s what we do. When we go out to eat, we drive by one of those restaurants and grab him his favorite meal, and head to the restaurant the rest of the family has picked.
Of course picking the restaurant is the hard part. MoKo likes Oregano’s – though it is 20 miles away, or BBQ – but without sauce. Michael likes anything as long as it comes in bulk. Baby likes Olive Garden, but I can’t seem to qualify it as Italian Food, and somebody who shall remain nameless sweats garlic like her father; I’m just saying! So this is where the difficulty comes in: picking out a restaurant.
We’ll, genius that I am, I suggested we go to Buffalo Wild Wings. It has a variety of menu items, it’s a nice day, and we can eat on the patio.
"All in Favor?"
Dad: Aye,
Mom: Aye,
Michael: Aye,
MoKo: Aye,
Baby: Aye,
Ethan: No thanks, I’m fine!
Dad: Excellent, it’s unanimous!
We had already picked up two cheeseburgers from McDonald’s with No Pickle, No Onion, No Mustard, No Seeds, Ketchup Only! So off we go.
We enter the restaurant, are seated in the patio, and are given menus. Unbeknown to us, Ethan, since exiting the car, has been collecting saliva in his mouth. Of course, being on the patio, we don’t have any napkin dispensers on the tables. However, after a few minutes, the waitress brings us our drinks and six single-ply pieces of tissue disguised as cocktail napkins.
It’s at this point that I realize Ethan has spit in his mouth – this tic is a common occurrence in our house so we are quite adept at recognizing the signs and symptoms. There is no polite place for him to go and spit, he’s starting to gag, so we won’t make it inside to the bathroom, so I quickly grab a few of the napkins to offer him a chance to relieve himself.
Did you know that in just ten short minutes a small 14-year-old boy could collect what appear to be gallons of spit in his mouth? Okay, so I exaggerate slightly, but I will tell you that six cocktail napkins do not have the same absorbency capacity of a beach towel. Which is exactly what I needed at the time.
So, there we sit. Ethan free from the liter of spit, and me holding six saliva-dripping napkins unable to contain their watery prize, which is now running down my wrists! Several wet wipes later we cleanup the collateral damage, just in time for Ethan to decide he needs his cheeseburgers post haste, or he will melt away from hunger.
We pull out the cheeseburgers, and get them prepped for eating, i.e. pick off the small corners of cheese that hang outside the circumference of the bun, reposition the bun so that both buns and the burger are in alignment, etc.
Why isn’t he eating?
Is there a morsel of cheese we missed?
Did they accidentally put something other then ketchup on them?
No! We forgot extra ketchup for him to dip them in.
As we wait for the waitress to return, since they apparently don’t have ketchup on their tables, Ethan draws closer and closer to starvation! After what seems like an eternity, she returns and we ask for the ketchup. Pleasantly she obliges and off she heads inside to hopefully return soon with the goods.
No such luck! She brings it shortly before our order is cooked. In the meantime the tears have started, and the meltdown is brewing.
The ketchup is successfully dispensed in a heaping gob on his cheeseburger wrapper! The eating can begin.
First cheeseburger down in three bites! Success! Second cheeseburger started. Bite one, down. Bite two, down, Bite three . . . chewed, chewed, and chewed some more.
Sirens begin to sound! Danger, Danger Will Robinson!!! Quick, grab more cocktail napkins! There aren’t any! Grab anything!
Just in the nick of time, I reach him as he spits out a nicely chewed, warm, and saliva drenched glob of cheeseburger into my hands. Coincidentally it was about this time that my children and wife discovered that I do not possess a poker face!
Personally I think they were exaggerating. Come on. After dispensing the warm remains of a cheeseburger, I was just simply holding my face in my hands, as I deeply rubbed my eyes and temples with the tips of my fingers, while slowly shaking my head from side to side.
Who says I don’t have a poker face?

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