Occasionally I find random photos of Joe on my phone that make me smile and think. Today I have found one of these photos.
The photo shows Joe smiling and you could be forgiven for thinking that the day was all plain sailing.
That day, Joe was taking part in a children’s reenactment of the Battle of Hastings. This was to commemorate the 950th anniversary of the battle. All the children taking part were given a plastic helmet and a foam sword to use. Joe really enjoyed dressing up and his smile lit up what a savage battleground 950 years previously.
The battle leader’s first command was for all children to line up on the battlefield. Joe was fairly sheepish about this so I was forced to join in. Luckily there are no photos of me from the day!
All of the children thoroughly enjoyed being yelled at and riled up before battle commenced. However there was one child who was not excited and instead was clinging to my leg. That child was Joe.
Joe is very sensitive to loud noise (see ‘Smoke alarms and hoovers’) and was quite put out by the commotion. One of the organisers obviously felt guilty and decided to try and cheer Joe up by whacking me repeatedly with his foam sword. Joe was having none of it and we retreated to watch from the side lines. While there we discussed what was happening and that everyone was simply playing.
It might be that Joe is a pacifist.
I think it is more likely that Joe liked the dressing up, the thought of role play but not the conflict itself. This day rather sums Joe up. He is an incredibly gentle boy who wishes no harm to anyone else.
The National Autistic Society (www.autism.org.uk/sensory) has some very interesting information relating to ‘sensory differences’. Often people associate a sensory overload with a person having a meltdown. It is true that sometimes this is the case. However there are occasions where a person will simply ‘shut down’ and retreat into themselves.
On this day of battle, Joe was anxious and overwhelmed and he looked for support. Luckily he found it. If Joe was able to articulate what it feels like when he is overloaded I wonder what he would say. I imagine he would say he gets frightened, anxious and feels physical pain.
I think back to the lady that shook her head at us in the supermarket I spoke about in a earlier blog. I would love absolutely everybody to be sympathetic to the sensory needs of Joe but the reality is that probably won’t happen any time soon.
As long as Joe matures into a young man that communicates his needs in the most appropriate way and never resorts to a sword of any type, his family will be proud of him.
I shall make sure I don’t include any more Medieval brutality when spending time with Joe in the future.