FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

McDonald’s (again)

Written By: Scot Butwell - Jan• 20•13

mcd cool (2)I should have known. This wasn’t a good day to go to McDonald’s. There wasn’t an empty seat in the Play Place. The ear-piercing squeals and screams were louder than usual. Both of these should have been warning signs.

But I chose to ignore them.

I thought about making up a phony excuse to tell D why we had to leave. But he disappeared into the play structure, and I ignored the voice inside me saying, “this is not a good day to come to McDonald’s.”

D has trouble regulating his body in extra loud environments with a lot of stimulating activity, so I knew the extra audio-visual input might wreak havoc on his sensory system.

And then I heard it. A long wailing cry from the yellow octagon above me. I knew D was the cause of the crying, but I knew I was responsible too since I had ignored the warning signs.

I followed the sound to the yellow octagon. A mother beat me there and was holding her daughter. I asked her if she knew what happened and the details she gave confirmed my suspicion that D was responsible.

“It was a boy.”

“Do you know which one?”

“The one with the hood.”

My son. The mom said he was on top of her daughter, and when I found D in a nearby tunnel, he admitted to having been on top of her, so we left and I pondered this question, “Should I keep bringing my son to McDonald’s?”

There was a previous incident when D pushed a younger boy into a wall, leaving a huge bump on his forehead. There were a few other “close calls,” and there have been many good days.

D is fine when there are fewer kids at McDonald’s. This means my discretion is critical to decide when is a good time to come to McDonalds, and when it is better to stay at home.

Thus, when I heard double the usual amount of squeals and screams, I should have heeded this warning sign. But I rationalized the extra noise would provide a sensory test for him.

So I’m torn.

I want D to practice regulating his body, even in loud environments. But, at the same time, I want to be mindful of the risk to other kids when D is in an overstimulated mental state.

D does not intend to hurt others, and he loves going to McDonald’s Play Place. So this is the conclusion I reached: D deserves to keep coming to McDonald’s, just like every kid does.

D is learning to regulate his body, just as all kids are learning different things, and to the mom of the girl in the yellow octagon, I wish I could explain how D’s sensory system is not the same as other kids.

But how do you explain this to a parent of a neuro-typical kid, who probably doesn’t even understand there is such a thing as a kid with a neuro-atypical sensory system?

I didn’t know about the vestibular system–tiny canals in our ears responsible for integrating external information–until D’s occupational therapist told me D’s is out of whack.

I had no clue our five senses depend on the vestibular system to integrate external information, and if D’s isn’t functioning correctly, it can cause him to have trouble tegulating his body.

Or even feeling his body when his vestibular system is out of whack, perhaps, from sensory overload.

See what I mean? It is impossible to explain to a neuro-typical parent how a child’s sensory system is atypical; it’s so much easier to be critical of a child like D for his sensory behavior.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.