Long Vacations and Autism – Part One
How do you vacation with a child with autism?
I’ve had this conversation with many parents.
We were lucky. We started vacationing with our son when he was very young. He took his first airplane ride when he was four months old.
Where did we go that first time?
We traveled to the East Coast.
And, then he took another East Coast plane ride when he was seven months old.
It wasn’t until he was fifteen months old that we even knew about his autism.
By that time, he was already a well-traveled baby.
Life got very busy for a while there. We were all plunged into a new, unknown world.
Still, we did travel. We took shorter trips for a year or two, but we kept up with the travel.
What I discuss with other parents, though, is to try not to give up on the more “normal” things.
First, one (or both) parent needs a break from time to time. If you have a situation where a respite person can give you that break, especially for one night, I say go for it.
A vacation is a break, even if you bring you child with you.
Second, don’t be afraid of the hard work that taking your child on vacation will necessitate.
It is more work. You have to be aware of your child’s behaviors and plan for them. If your child has a special diet, you have to bring food. If your child has issues with sleep, you have to take that into account.
The extra work is worth it.
What do I tell parents?
Try a short trip. One night. See how your child does in a hotel room. On an airplane. In the car.
Be prepared. Bring things that will occupy your child.
Be aware that your child may be overwhelmed at times, and perhaps unable to communicate it to you.
At least, try it.
We didn’t stop
We did not stop vacations when we found out about autism. It was a decision we made to try to keep our lives as “normal” as possible.
My husband and I like to travel. We don’t want to miss out on life’s experiences.
Now that our son is twelve, I’m happy to say that he’s now picked up on our love of travel. He is nine states shy of having visited all fifty states!
I don’t regret those early trips at all. We had to plan well, and we made some errors which led to some frustrations for us and for our son.
Those mistakes were experiences, too. They made all three of us better individuals.
Here’s a list of kid-friendly, autism-friendly vacation spots.
In my next blog, I’ll discuss my most recent vacation with my son with autism.
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