Yes, it has taken me a while to openly admit my anxiety and to deal with this daily fear I have. I feel being open while sharing this with everyone, it could possibly help other parents going through a similar situation and myself to get through this spring and summer.

Getting ready for Michaela's 3rd Birthday party

The back story on why I have this anxiety:

It was Michaela’s 3rd birthday party. We invited Michaela’s preschool class to the local park which turned out to be a very HOT day. Michaela was into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at the time so we got a bunch of Mickey Mouse party decorations; cups, plates, napkins, table cloths, balloons you get the idea. The plan was to give the children the homemade ice cream cone cupcakes and drinks first, then let the children go to the playground to run off the sugar high before they go home. Brilliant right?

I was about six months pregnant with Melanie and I was sitting on the bench with another parent chatting away. I noticed Michaela starting to drift away from the play equipment and heading over to the swings. This was before Michaela was diagnosed with autism. I got up to chase after her. I told Michaela to come back and play with her friends. She ignored me and kept heading towards the swings. This point, I quicken my pace while yelling “stop” to catch her because Michaela is heading towards the big plastic, banana type handicap swing with another child being pushed, extremely high and fast. Next thing I know Michaela is just outside my grasp, then goes under the swing and gets hit in the head hard by the swing!

She immediately falls to the ground. I’m panicking and do a stupid thing, I picked her up! Only to see blood pouring from her right side of her head above the ear. As we all know head wounds bleed the most. I yell for Chris and the other parents from the party rush over to me. Thankfully, one of the parents is a doctor told us to get a diaper (which one of the other parents had) to put over the wound and keep to pressure on it to stop the bleeding. Then the doctor told us to take Michaela to the emergency room.

The wonderful parents at the party told us not to worry about getting all the gifts and party decorations; they would take care of it and we could pick it all up later! To this day, I still appreciate that! 🙂

Chris and I rushed to the emergency room trying to keep Michaela from dosing off. They put us in a room and check Michaela’s head wound. Thankfully, it was an inch flesh wound above her ear right but deep enough to require 3 staples. Michaela was very wiggly while waiting but handled the procedure really well. Her hair covers the scar and if you didn’t know where to look you would never see it. One of the nurses saw her looking out the window of her room and gave Michaela a brown teddy bear (which we still have!)

SIGH…..

It took me a long time to even take Michaela back to a playground to play, let alone to the playground where the accident happened. My anxiety was full blown at this point. The playground in our neighborhood (not where the accident occurred) was where I started first. It has two sides, a  toddler playground and big kid playground. I was able to keep Michaela on the toddler side for a while until I was able to relax a little. I’m telling you, anxiety nerves are the worse. Then one day Michaela wanted to go to the big kid side. It only has 4 regular swings. I told Michaela to tell me when she wanted to swing then I would take her. I positioned myself between the play equipment and the swings. A couple of times Michaela would get around me and dash towards the swing which caused me to panic a little. I would tell Michaela to “stop” and she would most of the time.

Today, Michaela still does not have total “swing etiquette.” She will run in front of the swings with someone swinging. During school, Michaela’s class does not have time to go outside but I have it in her IEP about needing to closely watch Michaela around swings.

Last summer, Chris and I took the girls back to the playground where Michaela’s accident happened. I was a ball of nerves. Everything went fine, Michaela was good and listened. I on the other hand, was very jumpy and extra cautious. I’m glad we went back to help me face this anxiety, because this playground is really nice and is in a good area. I would like to keep taking the girls back to that playground!

Behind Melanie, is where she tried to step off

This year, I am foreseeing some issues I might have with both girls in taking them to a playground in general. Now that Melanie is completely mobile and wants to do things by herself. Plus, Michaela wants to play with the other children and have more independence on the playground. Last Sunday, Chris and I took the girls to the playground near our towns library since the weather is beautiful and warming up. I quickly realized; how in the world am I going to take both girls to the playground, by myself, while Chris is at work during the day? Or even to the children’s museum or the zoo?

Michaela and Melanie, both needed constant supervision on the playground on top of my own personal anxiety. Michaela would go one way and Melanie would go the other way. Melanie was climbing on the equipment when she got to an opening for the monkey bars, then Melanie just stepped off, with no fear what so ever!! If I wasn’t right there to catch her, she would of fallen off!! Afterwards, I looked up and lost track of where Michaela was playing which is NOT safe for a child with autism that can just wonder off! Yes, Chris was watching Michaela but that’s not the point! I can’t do it by myself which makes me feel even more guilty!

I have already talked with Melanie’s therapist about the situation. In the next couple of weeks, they will help us go to the neighborhood playground. Then they will assess the situation and give some advice on how to handle certain situations.

As a parent of 2 little girls with autism safety is the number one priority! I do admit I get jealous of parents with typical children on the playground sitting back on the benches relaxing, being able to read or play on their phone and not having to constantly watch their child play. Thankfully, we have a fenced in backyard with a swing set, but the girls need the social interaction with other children. This is not going to be easy with the daily challenge of my playground anxiety. I need to adjust and figure out how to best handle the situation. 🙂