I worked a lot on something they have been doing with Janey at school too---teaching her to come back when called. I let her run a bit on the beach, not far, but a little ways, because of the nice long visibility. Then I would yell out "Come back, Janey!" and nine times out of ten, she did! I gave her a high five when she came back, and said something like "See? If you come back nicely, you can run around more!" She seemed to get it. However, the one time out of 10 she doesn't come back is the killer, and in most places, there's a lot less visibility and a lot more things she can get into than at the beach. But it's a start.
Janey loves the water and the sand. She is fearless with waves---they wash right over her head and she just laughs. When we wanted to sit on the beach blanket for a while, she just sat sifting sand in her hands, mostly.
The ride to the beach on the subway was a little tougher. Janey hasn't been on the subway much, and the noises bothered her. It was interesting and a little sad watching how hard she tried to keep it together, but after a few stops, she couldn't. I talked to her about the noises, how they were normal and just the train moving, and she did calm down some after a while, but with some loud crying and screaming first.
When we got to the beach stop, she got upset again, and actually told me why! She kept saying "This is NOT Ve-vere Beach!" "I want to go to the beach!" The other times in the last few years we have taken her, it's been by car, and climbing stairs out of a subway didn't make it seem like we were going to the right place. I reassured her we would see the beach very soon, and when we did, she was fine.
My friend Maryellen and her daughter went with the boys and me for the trip, and that was perfect, as there was a variety of eyes to be on Janey if mine weren't for a minute, but no-one had full charge of Janey every single minute. If someone does, it's impossible for them to have fun and relax, but if I have primary charge but know I can get a break when I need one, it's great. I can enjoy the time with Janey, playing in the waves, digging in the sand and just watching her enjoy herself.
I guess my conclusion here is that it IS possible to have enjoyable days out with Janey. They have to be doing something she likes, there needs to be a big ratio of potential caregivers to Janey, you have to be prepared for meltdowns now and then, but although that sounds like a lot, it didn't feel like it. It felt like a nice, relaxing day, something I need to figure out a way to have more of.