Bass Pro Shop is a very cool store. Most kids…..and big kids …..like to spend an afternoon playing there. This summer Bass Pro even offered a free family program where the kids can take as many 20 min. classes as they would like in a variety of topics: archery, camping, fishing, wildlife exploration, etc. Very cool stuff!! In recent months, our middle son has really taken a liking to archery. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn more about it & have an opportunity to shoot a different style bow in their shooting range. Here’s the problem though, Peanut is terrified of Bass Pro.
Take a child with an anxiety disorder, sensory processing disorder, and probably autism, and throw him in the most overstimulating store available. Not the best mix. The best experience he’s ever had there was when he sat in line waiting for Santa with his winter coat over his head to fight the overstimulation. He is convinced the guns are loaded and a danger to all who enter the store. The screaming kids running around, the lights and sounds from the games, the funky animals in places he isn’t expecting all add up to epic meltdowns. Just mentioning the possibility of a visit to Bass Pro brings on anxiety and tears.
I told him we were going because this was an important thing for his big brother, the classes are short, and we would leave immediately after. (Of course, this went on for hours with much love and reassurance…….but to say the least he was less than thrilled!) Thankfully, this turned out to be a huge day! Finally, we had a day where I could see tangible progress in how Peanut (7) responds to overwhelming stimuli!
We talked all the way there about what to expect. You are safe. You will be with me the whole time. We pulled into our parking spot, had a pep talk and a hug. We walked in with slight flapping, but no tantrum yet. The first few minutes while his brother was listening to the archery presentation, Peanut was here:
That’s right. Snuggled, face covered with hands, inside a support beam. But he was doing it with *NO* meltdown. By the end of the archery presentation, he was walking in circles around the beam. The instructor said any children interested could go up to the archery range and practice shooting a bow, and they had the option of a BB gun as well. Peanut seemed excited to try a bow (which was good since his brother was going to go up to shoot!!)
We made it up the stairs, and into the shooting range. Praise the Lord, it was quite empty in there with only a couple of children ahead of us! My middle son went first, shooting both the bow and the BB gun. Next, Peanut decided he was ready. The instructor helped him pull back once to get a little distance on his shot.
Trying it out on his own:
Next, the BB gun.
Oblivious to all but the cool new goggles
Heaven help us, the boy has a gun in his hand!
While the instructor went to get Peanuts target to take home…..all shiny new with no holes ……..Peanut triumphantly ran circles around the room flapping his hands all over the place.
Did those autistic traits come out? Yes; I haven’t seen him flap that much in a while. Did he have anxiety? Absolutely. Did he work through it? Absolutely beautifully. Did he even move on to do something new all by himself? Absolutely, amazingly so! Both of his brothers and his mamma left Bass Pro beaming with pride. Hands down, it was the best day of summer vacation ever :)