Sunday, February 3, 2008

"No Kiss Goodbye"

Yesterday, Andy and I drove down to Baltimore to visit Jonah. We've been going every week, sometimes twice, since he was admitted in the middle of January. And he appears to have settled in. His behavior specialist, who we pester by phone almost every day, told us recently that Jonah only says, "Go home," a couple of times a day, instead of the constant barrage she faced when he first arrived. And, for the first time, he didn't pitch a fit when we left - although he did repeat over and over, as it got later, "No kiss goodbye."

We're allowed to take Jonah out for four-hour stretches, but I have to say, we're struggling to find interesting places to go. Baltimore - with the exception of the inner harbor - is quite a pit. Block after block of boarded up rowhomes, abandoned shops, and liquor stores. At least, that's been our experience, although we welcome any suggestions from anyone who knows the area. A social worker at the hospital had recommended a Chuckie Cheese-style establishment called Jeepers, which she told us had a little indoor roller coaster, so we made the twenty-minute drive and found when we got there . . . another empty storefront. Jeepers, a sign on the door announced, was closed effective June 17. It seemed to me that the social worker should have been on top of this, seeing as there aren't an abundance of fun places in the vicinity of the hospital for parents to take their kids. It made me sad to think that maybe she didn't know because the parents of the kids on the unit don't visit very often - or if they do, maybe they don't take their kids out. I have seen parents of three of the other kids, and although I don't know for sure they haven't left the hospital, I never saw them go.

We ended up having a nice evening, even if it did involve making the trek across town, back to the inner harbor. We ate dinner at the ESPN Sports Zone, and Jonah attacked the childrens' menu with the complimentary crayons like any other kid (although most other kids probably wouldn't have used their crayons to write out the titles of Sesame Street videos). When he got tired of the crayons, I showed him the book I made for him on IPhoto - 40 pages of pictures of all his favorite people, doing all the things he loves to do. He especially loved the pages of pictures from "the water park and the roller coaster park." We left the book at the hospital so Jonah can look at it whenever he feels homesick and, hopefully, begin to understand that he won't be in the hospital forever, and that his life at home will be waiting for him when he gets back.

2 comments:

Laundry & Children said...

My husband's family is from Baltimore and here are some of the things that we have done with our kids. There is a great deli call Attman's Deli (www.attmansdeli.com). You can also go to the Aquarium. Paddling the boats around the inner harbor is fun. The baseball stadium gives tours when the O's aren't playing. I suspect there is a similar tour at the Raven's stadium. Hope that helps.

TexasPatrick said...

And now that I see Jonah was born in 1999, he's the same age as my son (who also has autism). What good parents you are.

I know also the sheer struggle to find things that our son really really enjoys. I can't count the number of times I've had to answer a question about that and really not had a good answer. And of course, you're probably very familar with how sometimes you don't know what he likes 'till after it's over. :-)

Good luck on your journey.