All parents need to get away and have fun occasionally! Parenting is hard work especially when you have a child that needs special care and supervision. Small respite periods are always nice as they can help recharge your batteries but there’s nothing like a one-week vacation away from the typical routine to relax the mind and rejuvenate spirit.
When I encourage parents to take a vacation for some R&R they often list many reasons not to, and they claim it's next to impossible to pull off. Yes, traveling with your unique child will present some very unique challenges. Unfortunately, it’s a scenario that most parents won’t even consider. Many parents envision the worse and give up before they even try. I can hear their excuses now.
- Who can I trust to take care of my child like I do?
- People won’t understand and think I am being selfish.
- I don’t think my child will be able to function with too much change.
- My child just won’t travel well, by car or air.
- A change in routine will put my child over the edge!
- I get overwhelmed just thinking about the process and what it will entail.
Allowing these thoughts to swim in your head will never get you to a relaxing destination. So start thinking positive! You can create a vacation respite experience for you AND your child!
I challenge all of your excuses!
- A change in routine can be managed well with lots of preparation and planning.
- Traveling with your child, by car or plane, can be a successful experience with forethought and practice.
- Being organized and breaking things down into baby steps helps the process run smoothly.
But there’s another obstacle I hear parents present to going on vacation with their child.
“There are no places to go where people will understand enough about autism for me to relax and feel comfortable.”
Fortunately, due to raising awareness and socially conscious kindhearted people, many companies are responding to the need for autism friendly places, activities, and events. Here is a list of a few to explore.
- Autism on the Seas allows you to book a special autism package where the experienced cruise staff will prepare to meet your child’s needs, including a special GFCF diet if needed.
- Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California offer many services and accommodations for special guests. Go to their sites to download their ‘Guides for Guests with Disabilities’ and additional information as well. Other attractions such as Sea World and Busch Gardens may do the same, as well as other big theme parks. Never be afraid to call and ask.
- Sesame Place in Philadelphia, PA, is the first Certified Autism Center in the world and is only 90 minutes south of Manhattan.
- The National Ability Center in Park City, Utah offers recreational and athletic programs and camps for individuals with special needs and their family members.
- Legoland can be a wonderful destination as Legos are of great interest to many children on the spectrum. They do request that you contact the guest services office prior to your arrival. When you go to their site you can download a Guide for Guests with Disabilities.
Destinations such as these are wonderful and will meet the needs of your child while at the park but what about the rest of the day – the hotel room, meals, and let’s not forget respite for you. That’s right, someone well-trained to care for and entertain your child while you get a break.
Does that sound too good to be true?
Autism Double-Checked is an autism-friendly travel agency that will help you locate hotels, airlines and attractions that cater to the needs of this population. They specialize in vacations for families of children with ASD. Employees are trained within three levels of certification and they even offer practice vacations.
And if your traveling plans include flying this summer, click here to access Holiday Travel by Air With Children on the Autism Spectrum for some great tips!
As a great advocate for parent self-care I believe respite time is mandatory for maintaining your sanity and promoting a positive home environment for all. Whether you take mini-breaks at home to restore your energy or plan longer breaks, such as a vacation away from home – with or without the kids – there is nothing selfish about it. Just remember to plan and prepare as much as possible for any activity or travel event in order to generate many wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.
Want to enjoy the best vacation break ever with your child this summer?
Discover strategies to create a healthy balance between having fun and maintaining the progress your child made during the school year.
Email me here to request your FREE Guidebook to a Stress-free Summer for Parents of Children with Special Needs. Simply place the words "Free summer guidebook" in the subject line on the contact form and click 'send'.