Autism and a Trip to Europe
I recently took a two week trip to Scotland. I had never been to Europe before. It was a really special trip, fun, relaxing, and great sights.
I had been away without my child with autism before, but never for longer than a week.
And, never in a country that’s eight hours ahead of us. A few times he had been quite young, but now that he’s older, he’s pretty self-sufficient in a lot of ways.
He got himself to and home from school, took care of most of his schoolwork by himself (dad helped a little), and made sure to take care of his responsibilities (he had specific things he needed to do for the dog when he got home from school).
How did I communicate with my son while I was away?
During the week, I found it a challenge to talk to my son (my husband was easy to reach at work, but trying to talk to my son—which meat finding a good time for both us—was a bit of a challenge.
First, to save on the cost of traveling in Europe, I had a very limited (i.e. cheap) phone plan.
We decided to use a phone/text website that would allow you to call/text over wifi, the challenge was I didn’t always have wifi. Nor, is wifi available everywhere you go in Scotland.
A few times, I got lucky and just happened to be lunching at places with wifi and was able to briefly talk to my son before he went to school.
Other times, he called me during his lunch. These calls were even shorter, thought, because my son has a specific schedule he likes to keep and I was preventing him from eating his lunch (those autism-like routines cannot be broken, bent, but not broken!).
Time zone issues
Only once or twice was I awake when my son got home from school. I’m not much of a late night person and my traveling companion and I were doing a lot during the day (a lot of walking). That left me pretty tired every night. In order to have a longer and more focused conversation with my son, I would have to stay awake past 11:30pm.
I did it two or three times, but some nights I just couldn’t.
I think I spoke to him on most days. Or, at least, sent him a text or two (including photos).
Were there other challenges?
There was one thing that came as a surprise.
Looking back, I should have known this was going to be “weird,” but it didn’t occur to me until I was actually doing it.
What was it?
My husband and I both have iphones (my son does not). We decided we could Facetime on the weekends and get a visual of each other.
What was the challenge?
Well, I talked to my husband and them he handed over his phone to my son.
But, what I forgot to consider is my son does not like eye contact.
Here I was looking at him on a device, finally getting to see my son’s face after not seeing him for a few days, yet he was looking above the phone.
I asked him once or twice to look at me. He’d give me two seconds of eye contact and then look away.
This was simply something I hadn’t considered until I was in the thick of it. Duh, I have a son with autism who doesn’t like to look at me!
Not his fault, not mine. It’s just how he is.
Turns out, at this time in his life, Facetime just isn’t his thing.
We talked on the phone the rest of the time!
Overall, he did great while I was away. His school work was great, he never got a tardy, and his dad was able to get him to most of his other activities.
He ever said he missed me!
Most of all, he made me promise him that the next time I go to Europe, he gets to come, too!
Autism and a Trip to Europe
If you’re traveling with your child with autism, here’s some travel tips:
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