Have you ever been fascinated by something that scares you to death? That’s fireworks for Jake. I’m not sure exactly what goes on in his head, but he’s both amazed and afraid of them.
Take our trip to Disney a few years back. He wouldn’t go anywhere near any of the “fireworks” displays. The one at Magic Kingdom over Cinderella’s castle is legendary. Jake wouldn’t let us stay out that late. He panics. We spent quite a bit of time at Magic Kingdom over those two weeks, but not once did anybody get to see the big show. That being said, he watched them on Youtube nearly every day for a month after we got back.
If any of you readers are local to our little Maine burg, you’re no doubt aware that the town’s fireworks performance takes place down in the mill yard, and half the town gathers on the hill by the war memorial to watch. Jake’s never been. I usually take the other two, and he sits in his room (which generally faces the show), and watches with his Mom while clutching his headphones. If I video tape them, he’s eager to see them when I get home. He can see a few of the flares over the tops of the big maple trees across the street, but it’s mostly noise with a few flashes of light.
Thankfully (there’s no sarcastic font, I looked), Maine passed laws that allow average citizens to set of fireworks at any time on any date. Where once we could isolate Jake’s exposure to fireworks to a day or two a year, now it happens randomly throughout his world. Our neighbors seem especially fond of firecrackers and bottle rockets and whatever else they can get their hands on. Most popular time to light them off? Shortly after Jake’s settled in for the night. I can’t tell you how many times he’s come running down over the steps in a panic, wanting to huddle in on the couch with us until it passes.
So, on the one hand, he’s fascinated and wants to watch on his terms and at his choice of volume. On the other, he’s deathly afraid and doesn’t want to be in the same county as the things. Normal? Doubtful. Normal for us? You bet.
As we approach sunset on July 4th, and fearfully await every jack-wagon with a bottle rocket to head out into the backyard and begin their sensory onslaught, keep Jake in mind as he huddles under his blankets with Winchester headphones on. It’s the classic autism catch-22. He so desperately wants to experience this, but he’s too afraid to do it head-on.
For now, I guess we settle for Youtube videos with the volume turned down. Hey, it’s a start.