A Date With My Son

Over our Spring Break (which was last week), I had an opportunity to go see a concert with Yanni and his Voices.

I took the opportunity to ask Spiff if he’d like to go. We try to introduce normal teen activities into his schedule, and a concert is definitely a teen activity. Granted, Yanni isn’t exactly Top 40, but it IS not as loud as a rock concert, and I thought the pace would be a good jumping off point for him to start his concert-going experiences. I was right, but with one small oversight:

I forgot to bring earplugs.

Okay, so it was actually a LARGE oversight. For school dances that he has attended, we pack a pair of earplugs in a special case to put in his pocket so he can handle the loud music and the thump-thump-thump of the bass. For pep rallys and activities inside a large building, we have found earplugs to be very helpful for Spiff to handle the noises. If we don’t bring earplugs, you will see my son do this:

Spiff at Concert

He did that for most of the concert. He could still hear it, but at a level he was comfortable with. He also does this at movie theaters too. After awhile the hands come down, but for a large part of the show, you will find him exactly like that. And that’s perfectly okay.

Here are some helpful tips and tricks we have learned to help Spiff out in these types of situations:

  • Buy earplugs. If your child is old enough, allow him or her to choose the kind of ones that work best for them. Find a case (if one is not included) that will allow your child to attach it to a belt loop or stick in their pocket. We have found the ones that attach to a belt loop work better for Spiff, but it is a personal preference.
  • Go early. If you can, try to go a half-hour to an hour before the event starts. Get the lay of the land. FInd the bathrooms. Scope out the concessions. Talk to the ushers and security staff near to where you will be sitting (if possible). Let them know the situation regarding your child. They can be a great ally in places like these, especially in a quick exit situation or if your child starts to meltdown.
  • Aisle or Window? Allow your child to choose their seat. If you are attending with a group or family, have the child sit either on the aisle or in-between family members you trust and they are most comfortable with. If you discover the seat (or two) next to you are vacant, your child might enjoy sitting near those seats. Mine sure did!
  • Nosebleed or Right in the Center of it all? Most times you don’t get to choose the seats you buy at a concert because it is automatically chosen for you. However, you can specify Handicapped seating or if you want to go with the luck of the draw, that’s fine too. The seats I had were at floor level, and we were 8 rows away from the stage. Spiff did fine, but a seat further back might have been a little bit better for a show with no intermission.
  • Spill the Beans. While I want my son to act as normal as possible in social situations, I know that the reality is he does the best he can with what he has. If we find ourselves surrounded by other strangers in the seats, I will introduce myself to the person sitting on the other side of my son and explain some of my son’s quirks to them. This way, they are warned, and they can tell me if it gets to be too much so I know to switch him around. On several occasions, the person is pleased I have said something and will even politely ask if there is anything they can do to help. That happens rarely though, so don’t expect it too often. But it does happen!
  • I Like to Move it! If there is an area where people can get up and dance to the music, like the aisle, go for it! Sometimes being able to move to the music helps quell those sensory issues these types of situations bring on. Just make sure your child has some space to get their groove on!
  • Practice makes perfect. If you have had a difficult experience before at a concert, outing, or event, don’t give up! Try, try again. For years I have been the one to ask Spiff if he was going to go to the school dance and I had just about given up. Now, he asks me if he can go to the dance. Believe me when I tell you we have had some EPIC meltdowns at school dances. However, that being said, he is taking the initiative to add that to his schedule now, and we couldn’t be more pleased.
Oh, and FYI? My son was the perfect date. We had a great time.
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