After a week preparing, recovering from a meltdown a little time ago, checking and reconfirming our pictorial schedule in the attempt to remove any surprises, our morning was greeted with broad smiles and a cheery manner. We looked to press ahead as planned and visit our local heritage railway ‘East Lancashire Railway‘ in the hope we can have a day unaffected by anxiety.
We have learned how effective music is to calm rising tension, and recover from meltdowns and so armed with an iPod full of favourite tunes, and headphones (important that we don’t use ‘ear’ phones – they irritate) we make up the flask, pack a small picnic and set off.
We go out early, as generally we beat the crowds this way and the station was quiet enough not to be regarded as ‘crowded’. Allowing everyone to get on first, we stroll along slowly with the chair, pointing out that a couple of dogs were getting on with us. This held the attention superbly while we found our seats (with a table, so we can spread out our music and picnic in a certain order)
The train moved off and we were all smiles. 😉
Past experience has shown that we have to ‘go’ and then ‘come back’, there is no getting off to look around, that creates a level of confusion that could lead to anxiety. So, staying in our seats we talk through the journey, pointing out various points of interest and having the first, prolonged period of enjoyment in quite a while. There were moments when feelings of uncertainty came, though putting on headphones and playing music from time to time, he was able to shut out the confusing world and regained focus through the music.
Picnic eaten, coffee drunk we set off for the return journey, and still smiling as we left the train, we even had a polite and engaging conversation with the volunteers, and Marc was fantastic. Overall we were out of the house for three hours. We set out, and we came back, happy!
We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have helped us create these preventative interventions, and we also thank the East Lancashire Railway staff who made the day (or rather, half day) such a success for us. We are now planning a return visit to this attraction, a certain someone has asked to drive the steam engine! It is something that can be arranged through a special day gift package. I just need to make sure they can accommodate mobility issues in the engine. 🙂
Also, a very big thank you to Rev. Wilbert Awdry for his inspirational Tank Engine stories. In 29 years, they have never been wasted and still inspire us today.