Our big boy loves big cars

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Mom’s old car was sold 10-12 days ago. A new one came less than a week back. Rather than get upset with the change, he absolutely adored the new car. It’s big, spacious and high enough for him to peer out the window when we’re cruising on the hot Dubai roads, just like the previous car we had. I was informed that when they went car hunting, he got into this car at the showroom happily, but refused to clamber into a smaller car. He’s a space junkie for sure.

When he got into the car, he couldn’t stop grinning, and laughing a bit towards the end of his first drive in the new car. Just seeing the happiness and excitement on his face made our day.

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The One with the Taxi: Karan’s Big Adventure Part 4

Guest post by Adita Divecha, Karan’s mother

Once we had to go to Madhavi’s (Rajiv’s sister) place by cab since the car wasnt available. So we we left our house and went downstairs to get a cab. Luckily, there’s always a long line of Fiat taxis – the black and yellow ones – just below our house. We, ie myself, Karan and Rajiv, hailed a cab.

The thing with these taxis is that the doors don’t open all the way. I told Karan to get into the taxi, but he refused. He kept staring at the taxi for a while. Then he put his head in and looked at the seat and then he came out again. It was quite comical. Then he stood there looking at me with a frown on his face. Rajiv kept telling him, “Go inside” but he refused and kept doing the same thing around 3-4 times.

Then he slowly put one leg in and then brought it back out. Finally I got into the taxi and told him to come in. I said, “Come in, see Mummy is also sitting here”. Still he refused. Then I showed him his koosh ball (which he likes)…and he finally got into the taxi. Then Rajiv sat in the front passenger seat.

Karan was staring at the taxi driver. The taxi driver was, in turn, staring at us wondering what was going on, wondering why such a grown-up looking boy wasn’t getting into the taxi. Karan was constantly making the sounds “AAH! AAH! AAAH!” and held on to my hand tightly, with a look that felt as though he was wondering where his mother was taking him.¬†When the taxi reached its destination, Rajiv opened the door and Karan couldn’t get out of the taxi fast enough.

We didn’t sit in a taxi again.

Clearly my son was born in a 4WD (he’s recently been refusing to get into any other kind of car, and if he does, with some hesitation).

Backtrack to: The One with the Flight (Part 1), The One Where Karan Goes to a Dentist and Pets a Dog (Part 2) and The One with the Road Trip (Part 3).

Autistic children get trial run for air travel

I think this is a brilliant initiative, and I urge authorities in the UAE to look into the same.

 

PHILADELPHIA – At 8 p.m. on a recent Saturday, Southwest Airlines Flight 2149 was poised to push back from the gate. Flight attendants gave fasten-seat belt instructions, and First Officer Peter Hayes announced, “There’s 25 minutes of flight time until we touch down in Philadelphia.” Capt. Todd Siems said the Boeing airliner was cruising at 37,000 feet. And after he turned off the seat belt sign, the young passengers were served complimentary Sprite, cranberry apple juice and airplane-shaped crackers.

Flight 2149 never left the gate at Philadelphia International Airport, though. It was a practice exercise for children with autism and their families to become familiar with air travel – carrying bags, getting boarding passes, going through security, waiting at the gate and sitting on the plane.

“I’m going to China, but we won’t really,” said an imaginative Gena Catanese, 5, of North Wales, Pa., accompanied by her parents and sisters Isabella, 6, and Emma, 3.

Just 18 months ago, Gena had a traumatic travel experience on vacation in Orlando. She expected to pre-board the plane with her family, but the protocol was she could pre-board only with one parent.

Gena became agitated and “over-stimulated,” her mother, Melanie Catanese, said. “There was no way she was able to fly home that day.” After receiving a frantic call, Gena’s pediatrician, Wendy Ross at Albert Einstein Medical Center, phoned and faxed letters to the Orlando airport.

“I thought, ‘This can never happen to one of my families again,’ ” Ross said. She contacted Philadelphia airport and Rick Dempsey, head of the airport’s Americans With Disabilities Act review committee.

“She wanted to bring a simulated airport experience for children with autism and their families,” Dempsey recalled. “The committee thought it was a great idea. The TSA bought into it. We even got an airline, Southwest, to buy into the idea.” Since then, there have been three “mock” flights.

“We asked the crews if they would mind sticking around for 30 to 40 minutes and go through a mock turnaround on a flight, as if we were flying somewhere,” said John Minor, Southwest’s local station manager.

“We let them know that autistic children are very literal, so we don’t want to say, ‘We’re flying to Disneyland,’ ” Minor said. “We just say, ‘This is a test run.’ ” Frontier Airlines plans to host a simulated flight for autistic children Dec. 11, and US Airways Group has one planned for January. British Airways also has expressed interest, Dempsey said.

In the spring, Ross trained 130 airport and airline employees about autism, a condition diagnosed in one in 100 children annually.

“It’s not something you outgrow, but if you get really good therapy you can cope better, compensate better,” Ross said.

Philadelphia Inquirer

 

 

Karan’s big adventure – Part 1

Guest post by Adita Divecha, Karan’s mother

Both Karan and I have not been out of Dubai for the past eight years. Sometimes because I did not want to go and sometimes because there was no one to travel with me as I felt it was a bit difficult travelling with Karan alone. Most of the time our relatives would come to Dubai to meet us. This year we finally decided to go to Mumbai for the Christmas and New Year holidays as my husband Rajiv was there with us. I had been talking to Karan about the trip for many days so as to get him prepared for it. I dont know if it registered in his mind as there was no response from him but I like to think that it did.

The day finally dawned and we left for the airport. He was very calm and walked through all the checks and we were finally sitting in the business class lounge. He refused to eat anything there and as the time to departure came closer, Rajiv took him to the toilet. It is impossible for me to take Karan to the ladies toilet now as he towers over me. He is 172 cms tall and I am just 155 cms. And he cannot be sent to the toilet alone so I have to have a male presence with me. Anyway, the departure gate for our flight was very far from the lounge and when we mentioned that Karan was autistic and might get upset because of the crowd and the long walk, the Emirates airline ground staff arranged a buggy to drive us there. This was really excellent but Karan refused to get into the buggy. When we tried to push him in he started jumping up and down and screaming at the top of his voice. We got many stares by the people around us: some amazed, some compassionate and some disgusted….something I am very used to. It does not bother me anymore. Finally, I got into the buggy and held out his favourite koosh ball and after hesitating a few times he got in and then Rajiv got in after him so that Karan could not jump out again. Karan was ok after that and we finally boarded the flight.

Karan was very good throughout the flight. He sat between Rajiv and me and kept playing with his ball. Only while taking off and landing, he held my hand tightly as the noise was deafening and I guess he was frightened as he had his scared-deer look on his face. I had made sandwiches for him incase he would not eat anything on the flight but the main course for lunch was his favourite tandoori grilled chicken. So he enjoyed eating that and did not want to eat the sandwiches. But he refused to enter the toilet on the plane. I guess this was because it was too tiny and looked different from what he is used to. He went to the toilet only after we landed at Mumbai airport.

However by this time he was very exhausted and the noise of the people around him had started to irritate him and he started his whining and crying.We did not have to wait a long time for the luggage which came quickly. The customs officer took one look at Karan crying and stomping his feet and just waved us through which was a blessing. Karan calmed down once we were sitting in the car on our way home with his favourite songs playing on my phone.

All in all, the journey was quite good but i dont know how he will be able to cope if the flight is a longer one. Anyway, this was a good start and I hope it will get better and better.

Devina: I’m quite excited that Karan is on this trip…I think it shows how much he’s progressed over the years. I don’t think he would’ve handled it this well a few years ago. I’m so proud of you Karan!!!