Long Vacations and Autism – Part One

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. 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.

Of course, after that, life got very busy right away. We were all plunged into a new, unknown world.

What I discuss with other parents, though, is to try not to give up on the more “normal” things.

Like vacations.

First of all, one of the parents (or both) need 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.

Second of all, don’t be afraid of the hard work that taking your child on vacation will necessitate.

Yes, 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 might have issues sleeping in a different location, you have to take that into account.

It’s a lot of extra work.

But, it’s 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 did not stop vacations when we found out about autism. It was a decision that we made to try to keep our lives as “normal” as possible.

My husband and I like to travel. We love traveling 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 that involved a ton of planning, some mis-steps, and some frustrations for us and for our son. They were experiences. They made all three of us better individuals.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss my most recent vacation with my son with autism.

More on Kimberly Kaplan:

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