It took four days but it finally came out.

Being at a music festival and needing a number two is, for the least squeamish among us, a test of the human spirit, but for someone who doesn’t like dirt (except, bizarrely, on himself or in his bedroom) it is a major challenge.

It’s amazing to me that he is happy to dive around on wet grass and cover himself in mud, but he cannot bring himself to open a car door that has rainwater on it.

Likewise with the festival toilet, however much that poo is needed it isn’t coming out in a terror cabin (aka a portaloo).

The first time the need took him, we joined the queue only for the mission to be aborted before we even reached the toilet door. In hindsight it was my fault – I thought it best to remind him that the interior may not meet his high cleanliness standards so he was prepared for what awaited him. After computing this information, he assured me that he no longer needed to go.

An hour later, he suggested it might be time to pop along again. This time we made it to the door, but on opening it he recoiled.

“You’ll have to grin and bear it mate,” a helpful fellow camper advised. It didn’t help. Two more cabins were rejected before he decided that he didn’t need to go anymore.

While pooing (sorry, if this blog is a bit shitty) was an issue, weeing you would think would be OK. There were urinals after all, negating the need to step into the terror box, and we even had a bucket for number ones (only) in the tent. It was therefore a bit of a surprise when I turned to face our tent one morning to see him standing in the doorway, willy in hand, peeing out into the porch.

“Use the bucket,” I pleaded, but to no avail. I even found him on another occasion peeing out of the side of the tent, the bucket on the floor next to him, unused.

Back to the poo dilemma: in the children’s field, luxury awaited; proper toilets for kids and mums.

“These toilets are sensational,” he told me. But, on day three, they still failed to elicit the required deposit. Stage fright had taken hold.

Then, finally, on day four the tide could be stemmed no more, and out it came (admittedly the first salvo was in his pants).

After that there was no stopping him – urinals were OK, terror cabins were doable.

Like a tube of Pringles, once he’d popped he couldn’t stop.

Bands are banned

DS1 + festival = should not work. But somehow it does.

We’ve been to Bearded Theory for the last five years. There should be nothing that fazes him about it now. Everything is pretty much in the same place every year.

The crowds don’t worry him, nor does the noise – apart from the music.

“We are not going near any bands,” he informed me; a bit of an issue at a festival. When we did encroach on a stage area, he often remarked: “How dare they book this band – this is the worst music ever.”

Even when we weren’t in direct sight of a stage, he’d say: “We can’t stay here, I can still hear them.”

This is all a far cry from his formative years, when he couldn’t get enough music in his life. At one point he practically lived as a member of Green Day (without the drugs and alcohol, I hasten to add). But now, for whatever reason, he has decided that he hates music. But does this mean he wouldn’t want to go to Bearded anymore – don’t be ridiculous. We go every year, so that is what we must continue to do.

On the journey there, we hit a very slow-moving queue to get onto the campsite. Some two hours to cover 3.2 miles to be precise. DS1 remained patient and accepted our situation admirably. It probably helped that his friend Joanne was in the car with him, as they kept themselves entertained.

But, suddenly, all hell broke lose, as he leaned out of the window, repeatedly shouting: “I declare civil war on Bearded Theory traffic.”

Overall, though, he had a whale of a time, and there was hardly a hint of his autism throughout the weekend. He seemed to recognise when he needed some quiet time, asking to go back to the tent when it all became too much. But after an hour of chill time, he was ready to venture back into the madness, demanding that we go back to the arena.

The bouncy dome and inflatable slide certainly helped release his pent up energy, and I think he kept their owner in beer money by himself.

It helps that Joanne is as much an extrovert as DS1 is an introvert and she leads him into all sorts of adventures. She is a face-painter extraordinaire and earnt herself a small fortune plying her trade. DS1 went along with her, acting as her holding the mirror man.

At one point DS1 came running back to us from their pitch next to the ice-cream van, declaring that someone had come up to him to ask for her face to be painted but Joanne had disappeared and he didn’t know what to do.

This was great, that he’d had the sense to come and tell us, but I pity the poor woman left standing when he ran off. I don’t expect he had the forethought to explain that he wasn’t the face painter and he’d go and find her.

Spy kids

As it’s a small-scale festival, we are happy to give him free rein and allow him to go off with the other kids that were in our camp group. It’s all part of giving him independence and the confidence that he can do things without us. He even went into market stalls and completed transactions for goods on his own. I’m not sure there was any verbal communication, but still.

Gradually, he was also able to relax in areas where bands were playing. He even confessed to liking one.

His resolve to enjoy the festival was highlighted to me, when, clearly needing a bit of space, he asked if we could go back to the tent. I agreed and we set off, but after about a minute he stopped and demanded to know where we were going.

“Back to the tent, like you asked,” I said.

“I never said I wanted to go to the tent,” he declared and promptly turned around and headed back from whence we had come.

So, although you’d think this was an environment that should be avoided at all costs for someone with ASD and sensory issues, it has actually proved to be a massive boon in DS1’s development – his ability to cope with stressful situations improving all the time.

In addition, the abilities that autism has given him were evident in the car on the way home when an old favourite came out to help the kids endure the long journey.

“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with P,” said Joanne.

Only an autie could answer: “Is it Ptolemy XVI?”

1 comment

  • Clive

    Your patience and fortitude are now paying off big time. Great stuff. We’re looking forward to seeing you all in Suffolk in August.


Leave a comment