Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Soothing Roar of the Interstate?

On our recent camping trip, our son slept better than he usually does at home.  Unfortunately, the same did not apply to me and my wife.

Yesterday, I mentioned the huge crowds at the Burgoo Festival as we attempted to drive through small town Utica to get to Starved Rock State Park.  Well, I neglected to mention that there were a lot of people at the State Park as well.

The main parking lot there is quite vast, but, even so, it was overflowing with cars parked in all sorts of places that were not intended for parking.  We did the loop around the lot hoping to get lucky and be in the right spot when someone else was pulling out.  After sitting in traffic for so long just to get to the park, we were in no mood to do the Parking Lot 500.  Fortunately, we found victory lane after only a few laps as a minivan pulled out at just the right time.

With all those people there, it was no surprise that the campground at the State Park was completely booked.  But, I called a private campground a few miles away and secured the last campsite.  I had some trepidation about staying in a private campground, but it turned out to be quite nice.  It had lots of large trees and was arguably more picturesque than the campground in the State Park itself.  The only potential issue was that it was kind of close to the interstate highway, about a mile away.  But, when we arrived, the highway sounds did not bother us at all. 

Or, so we thought.

Kai fell asleep soon after we turned the lights off in our tent at 9:00 PM, and did not awake again until 6:00AM.  For a kid who gets up in the middle of the night ninety-nine days out of a hundred, this was highly unusual.  I don’t know if it was the cool night air, having less anxiety because he was sleeping in the same tent as Mom and Dad, or because he was tired out from all the hiking, but, for whatever reason, he slept great.  He slept well again the second night, so it wasn’t a fluke. 

My wife and I, though, had more of a restless sleep.  The sounds from the highway that we did not notice at all during the day became annoyingly loud once all else was quiet and we wanted to sleep.  It was a distant, but persistent roar of trucks and cars as they sped past. 

As I was lying awake, I wondered if that is how all sounds are for my son.  I’ve heard that children with autism can be hypersensitive to various stimuli, including noises.  It can be hard for them to maintain focus and attention because they can be distracted by sounds that most people do not notice.  For Kai, I imagine that it would be like hearing these highway sounds all day long in his head while he was trying to listen to other things.

Once we returned home, my wife and I slept more soundly in our quiet home.  Our son, on the other hand, resumed waking up in the middle of the night.  Maybe I need to pitch a tent in our backyard for him.  Perhaps, I need to take him for more hikes before dinner.  Or, maybe he needs more “highway sounds” at night to match those in his head all day.


  1. Typical isnt it.
    And would be realy interesting to get into their heads just for a while.

  2. Yes, that would be so fascinating, to experience the world from their perspective.


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