Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Great Stroller Hunt

The great stroller hunt has commenced. Micah is getting too tall for a
standard stroller. They have that little bar across the front to keep
the child from falling out. If Micah is wearing shoes, it is hard to
get him in and out of the stroller. We had an umbrella type of stroller
but he always looked squished across the shoulders in it. He never
liked it and gave a fuss when put in one.

Now, I am in a bit of a quandary. He is getting too long legged to
easily be put into the seat area of a shopping cart. Like with the
strollers, his feet are hard to thread through the opening when he is
wearing shoes especially. I can't have him walk with me all the time.
He wanders off easily if he is distracted by something that interests
him. We have a wearable ID on him whenever we are out just in case he
wanders, but I am buying a backpack-type harness that he can wear to
help keep him close. That will work in short spurts, but not all of the
time. We are wanting to take the kids to the zoo and other places this
autumn when temps are cooler. Micah just can't walk that far. He needs
a stroller for the all-day outings and even shopping trips. So, begins
the search.

I started by looking at the strollers in the local stores. They are not
sized for older toddlers/preschoolers. I am thinking of getting one
similar to those used by joggers, but am not sure how large of a child
they can handle. It is frustrating. He hates feeling too closed in,
which the umbrella strollers have a habit of doing. If it were only a
matter of making him obey when I tell him to stay near me, it would be
one thing. For Micah though, it is a safety issue since he is so
delayed cognitively and doesn't even begin to understand what I am
saying when I ask him to stay with me. He is also very quick at getting
out of those velcro-type straps used on the baby tethers that you see
Mums use to keep their little ones close.

Life was so much easier in this arena when he was still small enough
that I could use the baby sling. Now that he is 3 yrs old, he is harder
for me to carry for very long. I know that there is a solution out
there, but where? Considering the way he wanders at every opportunity
and that he doesn't have the stamina to walk for long periods, I am
expecting to have to use a stroller at least part time until he is
nearly 6 yrs old. Much of it will depend on his ability to understand
the concept of staying near and not wandering away when we are out
running errands. I really need something that will work for that length
of time.

The other issue that the stroller will help is the stimuli overloads in
crowds or very energetic public places. I have noticed that often Micah
will be able to cope much easier with things around him if he is seated
in a "safe" spot where he can't be jostled or startled by someone
walking too closely to him. Many times I have watched him jump from
being startled by someone walking past him. Micah will bring both hands
up to his face and his expression is one of absolute fear. For him,
being startled like that is not the mild thing it is to most people. It
resonates much deeper in him. There are often times when he will become
startled to the point of having to hold strongly onto me as I carry him
in my arms. His little body trembling as he screams in fright. It
always brings home to me just how much courage he has to be able to go
out each time I take him on an outing. We are away from home 1-2 days a
week. Each time, Micah is exposed to the very things that can by turns,
either bring enjoyment or bring terror to him. This is typical for
Micah and autism. He can be having a load of fun, then suddenly as if
someone had flipped a switch, something can turn that joy into a deeply
felt fear.

Having a stroller will help to ease that fear as well as keep him much
safer while doing activities that he may otherwise be unable to do. We
want to open up the world to Micah and see this as a way to help him
feel secure enough to enjoy it. This will also give us the security of
knowing that he is strapped into the stroller and less likely to simply
vanish when he sees something that draws his attention. We know that
the Lord will provide what Micah needs. It is simply a matter of
praying for the answers and waiting on Him to reply in His timing.