Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We hate Planes

Or so we thought...

so here we go, the story about the planes. Before moving to NZ, we decided it would be a good idea for me to at least come to the country once and see the land, the housing, the schooling, check out the teachers, and the special needs system. I'd spent 2 months researching on line, but it was time for some eyes on the ground.

In order to make the special needs case more evident, I was to take Jono with me. Rob was already in the country on business, I had arranged babysitting for the other two, and Jono and I were packed and ready.

We arrived at the airport, parked the car and checked in. We went through customs, got something to eat and went to the gate our plane was at. Jono was comfortable, relaxed and happy. We had been talking for weeks at home and at school with social stories, videos and pictures about going on the plane - and every time he said "I don't want to" We thought that he would be fine once he got on the plane, but we didn't realise just how much he really didn't want to get on it.

We walked down the airbridge, and turned the corner to the final section to walk onto the plane - around 20m worth... and it was enclosed with glass. The moment he saw the plane through the glass it was over.

He started to stress and panic, and stopped walking saying 'I don't want to'. He lost it, I lost it, I attempted to forcibly carry him on board, and it was unbelieveably overwhelming. I had every member of staff from the plane bring out everything they could to attempt to coax him on board and it was just not going to happen. I even rang Rob who was in NZ in a meeting and asked him to help talk Jono onto the plane.

20 minutes later - defeated, bawling, screaming, saying it wasn't fair (and that was just me) they unboarded our luggage and we exited the walkway. I took some time to calm down and assess the situation. Then started the phone calls - Grandma to babysit Jono, new ticket to get to Auckland, refund on unused tickets, madly drive home, re-pack, get Jono settled and get back to the airport in 4 hours for my next flight.

I arrived at 11:30 at night to a husband with flowers and a balloon. the next four days were intensely busy and we decided we would move countries.

The next trip across was the actual move, and we decided to take no chances with Jono and actually gave him some drugs to knock him out before getting on the plane, and board him on a wheelchair so he would not notice as much. The moment of the deep snores from his mouth 5 minutes before taking off was pure bliss for Rob and I. We got him on board, and then he woke up, after only 20 minutes of sleep, but he coped, and we all made it together.

The next flight was back to Australia for Christmas - again he didn't want to go on a plane, but we realised it wasn't the plane so much, it was being all together as a family that mattered - which compounded the problems for the first flight. We got some very light herbal lollies to help him relax, and that was all he needed.

The next flight, was heading back to NZ after the holiday, and he was happy - no herbal lollies, no drugs, and none of the I don't want a plane, just I'm going home to New Zealand, and I'm with my family.

We get him the wheelchair for each trip - as it anchors him, and is familiar now, but amazingly, he wasn't worried about the plane, just where his family was, and where his home was.

Now... if only he could have told us that in the beginning ;)