We are back from our trip with Bil and my mother in law (and another relative) to the Jersey shore to be at a wedding. All things considered, the trip went well. Here are the highlights of what went well and what could have been better:
1. A local [NJ] relative visited the motel room in advance and gave us a heads up on what it looked like.
2. There was an Olive Garden nearby, which Bil likes and Mom promised Bil we would eat there - of course that meant we could not try a couple of local restaurants that sounded interesting, but it was a small price to pay. (the restaurant experience wasn't perfect though-see below).
3. Bil knew he was going to have his own area (we purposely booked a suite) so he had his own space. The last time Mom and Bil (without us) stayed in a motel he didn't have a defined room area but had to share and it didn't work well. Also the local relative gave us a heads up that the bedroom area was really small. On the other hand, the bathroom was in the bedroom, which I had never seen before-it is normally off the "living room". That meant when us middle aged and elderly ladies had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, Bil wasn't bothered.
4. The wedding did not have a screechingly loud band - in fact the music the dj (no band) played was a bit subdued. Less noise, better for Bil.
Bil looked a bit glazed and (as usual) stayed off by himself. One day I may find out just what he gets out of these kind of public events - I am sure he is observing every little detail but what he does with that information we may never know.
Here's what didn't work well.
1. I think I mentioned that the motel would not give us a "handicapped" room at the wedding guest rate. So we booked a non handicapped room and Mom's knees bothered her greatly because of the bathroom setup. On the other hand she could have bought her raised toilet seat. I don't know that she meant to but we left it behind.
2. We were sat down at the Olive Garden next to a table with three young children, who did what three young children do-make noise. I didn't have issues with the parents but I think Bil was greatly bothered by the noise. He barely picked at his food. Mom asked if he was having gas. (he does suffer from some digestional problems-common in people with autism.) My husband asked Bil if he was anxious and Bil got a really funny look on his face but shook his head "no". Of course this begs the question if Bil knows what being "anxious" is. I suggested we get his food wrapped and he did eat in the room later. So this turned out to be a minor issue.
All in all the trip worked better than I expected. We could have perhaps done some more advocacy work with the motel - I still don't know what they did (not offering a handicapped room at the bulk rate for guests of the wedding) was legal or not. But Bil having his own space was definitely the key to success.