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Are you rethinking travel for your special needs family?
Autism and travel can create unexpected challenges. Having a family member with special needs can impact a family’s ability to do nearly everything in day-to-day life – eating, sleeping, and going just about anywhere.
Travel can magnify these challenges. Whether it is in packing cases of a favorite food item in the car, or pre-arranging strategic airline seats, it can seem like an endless list of tasks.
If you have a family member with autism or other similar challenges, just the thought of a vacation can seem too good to be to true. It can seem like travel, let alone a true vacation, becomes something that other families do, but not yours.
How to maintain travel for your special needs family
Since my son’s diagnosis with autism when he was two, we have constantly felt the need to think outside the box – for his medical team, his education, and his quality of life. Quality of life can seems frivolous, but in the months and years after the diagnosis sets it, you will find that maintaining qualify of life – for your child and for entire family – will become essential. Here are some ways to think outside the box in terms of travel for your special needs family:
Thoughtful family travel
Choose destinations that make sense, travel at times that are less crowded, in weather that is not extreme, and for not too long a
Our family started planning this when B turned 10, and I very much encourage your family to try something similar. Each summer, my husband and I alternate a week-long trip abroad with our neurotypical son. He gets the advantage of attention and focus (remember – fair is not equal), and we get the advantage of a smaller bill to foot for such experiences.
Self-care for the parents in a special needs family often falls to the bottom of the list – and when it falls off the list entirely, it can eventually create a lot of negative stress. Finding reliable childcare is often a challenge, one that is magnified by having a special needs child. Use available family members, friends, and/or special needs camps to make these necessary get-aways possible. The time spent together is central to maintaining your marriage, which can feel like it vanishes in a storm of complicated diagnoses and confusing treatment decisions.
A real rarity in our family, but something that I have come to value. Recently, I traveled alone to both my Color Street Conference as well as to my college reunion. Both times, the mundane moments of travel were some of the most enjoyable of the experience. Boarding a plane without wrestling multiple bags of on-board necessities (nor needing assistance from TSA Cares). Watching a WHOLE movie on the plane, uninterrupted. And even graciously being reseated and allowing others ahead of me in line – simply because I know how much we appreciate it when needed.
Has your family traveled post-diagnosis? What does it look like? Please comment below.