Back in the chilly days of winter, we began talking about our summer vacation in an attempt to ward off those winter blues. We had big dreams of Disney Land, the California Coast or renting a beach house for a week. My husband had worked really hard this year with long hours and weekends where he would rather be playing golf or wrestling with the kids. We wanted that dream vacation.
Also during this time, our concern for our eight year old increased as he continued to refuse healthy foods and basically get his fuel from yogurt drinks and gluten free processed sweets. We were continuing his weekly therapy, playing tough love, bribing, coddling, trying peer pressure. Nothing worked. So I sat and thought to myself, when is he most hungry? When is he most at ease? When is he just a boy without the anxiety, OCD, and constant search for food that is palatable? My answer was easy. When he is one with nature.
That answer formulated our trip to the Outer Banks. Initially we looked for back country adventures at places like Land Between the Lakes and Lake Cumberland; however, there was nothing novel about that for my 8 year old backpacker of a son. That was when we decided the ocean was the place for us. Just about that time, my husband read an article in Backpacker magazine about Shackleford Island in the Outer Banks. It seemed perfect! A ferry would drop us off and we would camp among ocean creatures and wild horses. Here is a picture of Shackleford Island with a horse roaming that I took from our ultimate destination.
As the school year ended and we began to solidify our plans, we had visions of horses trampling us at night and my husband spending the first two days lugging our gear from the drop off to our site. It was at that point that my husband discovered Cape Lookout National Seashore. It seemed to have it all. We could drive our car to where ever we wanted and have everything we needed. There would be few people during the week in such a remote location. You have to take a car ferry to get there so we would be without everyday conveniences. No more running to the store to fuel my son's latest cravings. So there it was, Cape Lookout.
Now that we had a place, we needed a plan. You see our theory was this. My son has severe sensory processing disorder. In every day life, he can't filter the constant changing stimuli that invade his senses. He becomes overwhelmed and anxious trying to meet the demands of an 8 year old's life. When he is in nature, those demands are no longer there. Although nature is ever changing, it is also constant in the stimulus that is provides. There are always waves crashing, birds chirping, crickets singing and fresh air filling your nostrils. There is a certain comfort with the predictability of not having to engage in the social aspects of life that are overwhelming. There is also the stability of knowing that there will be no transitions. Dad won't be going to work and mom won't be dictating the day's activities. All of my son's sensory needs are met in nature. So our theory was that if we could provide those sensory needs consistently for more than three days, Brayden would better be able to filter the sensory overload of his oral senses. If we only provide nourishing foods during those days, then he will have to eat them to fuel his hunger caused by the constant stimulation of nature. By day five, we believed we would be able to show Brayden what he was capable of eating without vomiting and therefore break his viscous cycle of not eating.
So what do we plan to feed him on those days? How will we pull this off? Stay tuned for more details...