Preparing for any kind of weather emergency is important and a plan is needed for any family. When you have a special needs child this becomes both required and complicated.
For us, Blondie has always been sensitive to thunder and rain. One of her biggest sensory triggers is noise and thunder has a lot of it. We always keep a pair of earbuds or earphones and send a pair to school as well. When things get too noisy and Blondie gets overwhelmed she can put them on and unwind while not having to be removed from the environment. This is perfect at school especially, because she gets to stay in the classroom and not miss a thing. Rain is a little more complicated. She loves to watch it, she loves water in the bath or to drink, but she does NOT like to get wet in the rain or step in any type of puddle. Getting her shoes wet or being forced to walk in a puddle results in a quick 0-60 meltdown and mommy better hope she brought an extra pair of shoes and socks.
However, all of this got even more complicated last summer. We had a “hurriquake” here in Virginia. First time we had ever experienced an earthquake. It was a 5.8 so small compared to west coast standards but we don’t have those here at all. To be honest, I am used to living at Fort Hood so I assumed it was just the range or the airfield. Then I realized we weren’t in Texas anymore and things started falling off the cabinets and shelves. I was shaken up, Ginger was laughing and pointing at the stuff on the floor but Blondie was freaking out. She was shaking, crying, looking like the world just stopped and there was not anything I could do to convince her otherwise. The few aftershocks we actually felt did not help the matter and she would go grabbing her favorite toys like they were going to disappear or she would wake up and refuse to sleep because she had to guard her room from the shakes.
We had just gotten over this when less than a week later Hurricane Irene came through. At this point, Joe and I were like “Really?” We had both been through Hurricane Hugo as children and a few in Texas so we knew what to do. We stocked up on food, water and batteries. We watched the news reports religiously. I tried to explain to both girls what might happen but they are kids who didn’t really get it. We were all surprised by how long it took to push though, the damage and the power outage. Part of our daily life is to try to reduce triggers that may set off Blondie and to keep routines, consistency and structure for her. Needless to say, this all was literally “gone with the wind”. Having no power for almost a week was the worst possible situation at that time. No TV, no refrigerator, no computer, nothing…. We prepared for a day or so but not that. It was a constant battle to calm her down, convince her to eat canned food when she can’t deal with the texture, try to get her to wear the clean clothes she had even if it was a little itchy or too purple, or stripey or whatever. We had to constantly reassure her that the power will come back on, that we will be able to leave the house again and the word as she knows it is not gone forever.
To this day, every time it rains or thunders, Blondie goes around the house and checks every single light switch to make sure the power still works. She asks us to check the battery supply and keeps a flashlight in her room.
For us, weathering a storm with our special child includes a lot more than just preparing for it…
About Today’s Guest Post Author, Raven Green
Raven W. Green. She is an Army wife of 10 years, mother of 2 little miracle girls, special needs advocate, avid book reader, social media and tech geek and aspiring author. Raven has an A.A. from Gaston College, a B.A. from Belmont Abbey College, is a Founder/Group Leader of MOSNAB: Moms of Special Needs Army Brats, is Contributing Blogger/Group Leader at MSNN: Military Special Needs Network, and an Admin at Army Mommies 101. You can find Raven on Facebook, Twitter, or at her blog.