If you had told me a few years ago that I would be boarding a ship with my family to meet my parents and my sister and her family for a five-day cruise, I would have told you that it was impossible. For Peter, who has Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), a ship would have too many new people, new sounds, new smells and new routines all at once. It would add up to disaster.
Now, after years of therapies and special classes, Peter has more language and coping skills. We have learned that baby steps added together give him the chance to try many new things. We began helping Peter adjust to the idea of cruising back in February. Carnival had a wonderful website, so Peter explored the ship online. His sisters, Charlotte and Kit, talked with him quite often about plans for the trip.
Peter knew he wanted to use the arcade and go down the three-story slide, long before he was rocking on the waves. He also knew that we were going to be in our room as we set sail to avoid the loud horn. The girls and my husband Bill watched from the deck.
He ruled the waterslide and beat me at air hockey in the arcade. He closed his eyes for most professional pictures, declaring the flash was too bright. He ate his way through the day, sampling everything from french toast in the morning to pizza at almost midnight.
Peter loves accents and was fascinated by the crew members from all over the world. He can now sound just like several of the crew and our taxi cab driver from St. John’s Bay.
When Peter was a toddler he would run from people afraid that their mere touch would hurt. I was brought to tears as Peter danced with his grandma, twirling her under his arm, while Charlotte, Kit, Marina and Nicole took turns dancing with their grandpa and dads.
There were a few worries and challenges along the way, such as fog horns and loud noises during a show, but Peter enjoyed the trip enough to announce that he wants to bring his kids on a cruise. You see, he really likes to plan ahead.