Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Noises, and Bright Lights, and Lines~ OH MY!!!!

Oh, the joys of holiday shopping!  I don't take Evie out with me on Black Friday because she doesn't even like shopping on a regular day, let alone the biggest shopping day of the year.  However, I have had my share of long lines with Evie, and have had to take her shopping when I have no other choice.  Today's assignment for WEGO Health's National Health Blog Post Month is to tell you about the things that I have done to make the experience a little less painful for all of us.

My friend, Jenny, who also has WAGR (the same syndrome Evie has) told me that the noise and bright lights in the stores unnerve her.  Based on that information, I tried putting music on my iPhone when we would go through Target or other stores.  She and I would sing along while we walked down the aisles.  It was a tremendous help.  Even better, we add headphones when we know that the volume would need to be too loud in order to help her; so as not to offend any of our fellow shoppers.   

Another thing to remember with a person with WAGR is that she or he may have sensory issues.  Pushing and pulling heavy things can help, so I will ask Evie to push the cart (I believe in some countries this is called a "trolley").  Giving her a task keeps her busy too!  One year when we DID brave the holiday crowds, I gave her a mall-wide scavenger hunt.  I listed different stores, and various items to find in those stores.  She and my husband would go looking for the things in the stores, and she'd get to put a sticker on her tracking sheet when she located them.  Then we gave her a reward at the end of the shopping trip. 

Those are the things that help when we are on the move and shopping, but how about when we get to the lines?  Two summers ago, I got Evie and I season passes to a waterpark.  I knew that we would have a lot of lines to stand in as we waited to get on the rides, so I told her to "put on your patient pants".  Honestly, it worked.  I don't know how or why, but whenever we would drive up to the entrance Evie would say, "I put my patient pants on."  Hilarious, and adorable...that's all I can say.

However, when the lines are extraordinarily long, I would use a couple of word\games to keep us occupied.  I call them "Going on a Picnic" and "Going to the Zoo".  One of us would say, "I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing apples."  The next person will say the same except they have to bring something that starts with the letter "B".  "Going to the Zoo" is quite similar.  "I'm going to the zoo and I'm going to see an aardvark."  Again, the next person names an animal with the next letter of the alphabet.  It's a good time waster, and it's amazing how much it exercises one's brain.

For smart phone users, or people with iPads, the MadLibs app is fabulous.  There are some free madlibs, (I rarely purchase anything on apps). Madlibs are educational as well since it requires knowledge of nouns, verbs, and adjectives.  The people around you will enjoy listening as the story is read back.  Trust me. 

When in doubt, the best thing I can do for Evie is create a 1, 2, 3 plan just like Dora the Explorer would.  "First we have to get by the grumpy old troll, then we go to Tico's tree house, and that's how we'll get to Rainbow Rock."  Of course, in non-cartoon life this sounds more like, "First we have to get a heated mattress pad at Kohl's, then we'll pick out something "Bucky Badger" for a gift exchange, and that's how we'll get to Target for all of our basic needs." 

My last "tip" is about bathrooms.  We have made many, many a trip back to my hometown which is a good 4 1/2 hour drive from where we live.  I ultimately came to the decision that stopping to go the bathroom at a restaurant is MUCH more reliable than stopping at a gas station.  When you consider the standards that restaurants are expected to meet, they HAVE to be higher than a gas station, so despite how busy they may or may not be, the bathroom in a restaurant will likely top the cleanliness range of a bathroom at a gas station.  I'm not saying this is a certainty, but the odds are in your favor.  (Now that I said, "The odds are in your favor" everyone is thinking of the Hunger Games...which makes me think that some public bathrooms really are like the Hunger Games...You're fighting over limited resources like toilet paper and paper towels, hoping to rest somewhere that the "elements" won't take you down, and the most important thing you need to find in the bathroom is a clean water source.)

And, on that note (Don't forget to tip your wait staff, I'll be here all week!), I'll say "Happy Thanksgiving Eve".  Tomorrow I get to write about the things for which I am the MOST thankful.  Oh, the suspense, the anticipation...I just can't wait!

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