Autism and Vacations
My son loves to travel. He got that love to travel from his parents.
A few years ago, my son and I took a road trip together—just the two of us. We hit some great Western states and tourist stops. We drove a lot in those twelve days.
My son was eleven. We had taken many family trips before that age, but I feel that trip really made my son into a vacation-lover. A traveler. A planner of future vacations.
What exactly is a planner of future vacations?
A bucket list, I suppose you can call it.
I had no problem with my child having a traveling bucket list. I have one.
Even though my child has autism, vacationing has always been on the table.
Is my son been good at vacationing?
Overall, I’d say yes. Of course, there have been some bumps along the way.
However, we began traveling with him when he was only four months old (a ten day trip to the East Coast). Within his first year, he had traveled to the East Coast twice. In between, were two or three long weekend driving trips.
Yes, my young child with autism (pre-even knowing about autism) had traveled in airplanes on two trips by the time he was one.
We took these long trips because we love to travel and I’m from the East Coast, so I have friends and family to visit.
Our child got used to flying on an airplane at a young age.
Travel as they get older
As he grew older, and we continued to travel, he loved fly!
He also likes driving trips.
A few years ago, my husband, son, and I drove all the way across the U.S.
We’re lucky we can afford it. But, most of all, I love to see my son embrace a travel bucket list.
Have there been any roadblocks?
A family member and I have been discussing a future European vacation. We’d both take kids, my one and her girl. They’re about the same age.
My husband would join us for part of the trip.
Originally, we were thinking about this upcoming summer, 2019.
We changed our minds after traveling together this summer.
What changed our minds?
Part of it is autism-related, the other part is more typical teen.
My son isn’t ready for a European-type of vacation. Not yet.
My son isn’t quite ready for the trails of a European-type of vacation.
I’ve never been to Europe. My husband has, but he was fifteen at the time.
One problem is the simple unfamiliarity of new countries and very different ways. For us Californians, this isn’t like spending a night in Tennessee. There are hotels and restaurants and all of that, but things are different. Some countries we want to go to even have different languages!
A different kind of traveling
For example, we won’t have a car. We’ll be traveling by train within Europe. This takes away the “comfy-ness” of having a vehicle (Can you tell I’m a car person?).
These differences can be attributed to autism. A transition that will be over-stimulating, for example. A language barrier won’t help things, either.
Another issue is a different mode of transportation, walking.
There will be a lot of walking. We want to see lots of things. The days will be packed.
One problem with my son and walking (especially in the heat) is he doesn’t do too well in the heat and/or with getting over-heated.
This is mainly a teenager/puberty issue. When he gets too hot, he gets uncomfortable and he complains. Okay, whines. He makes everyone else uncomfortable because he has very little tolerance for this issue.
Then there’s the wifi/connectivity issue.
My son has a low tolerance when it comes to his devices. On this type of trip, it’s not about being on a device (or two or three), at least for me it isn’t. We may need maps or information for the Net, but we certainly wouldn’t need to play games or whatever.
My son is not that bad. He can be offline. I worry, however, about an extended period of time.
The bottom line is we’ll put off the trip for (maybe) a year. My son’s not quite ready for that leap, even though I’m confident we’ll get there and he’ll be fine.
We have a bucket list, after all. Autism and Vacations.
Here are some quality tips on traveling with your child with autism:
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