Long Vacations and Autism – Part Two

Long Vacations and Autism – Part Two

We’ve never missed a year vacationing with our son. We always went somewhere, even a quick trip two hours away for a weekend.

What did we do recently?

This summer, we took our son on a 28-day vacation.

Here’s how it went.

My husband and I rented a car and drove across the country in six days. The three of us spent five days in New York City, and then my husband flew home.

My son and I continued stopping in various places in the East Coast; Atlantic City, Washington, D.C., Vermont, Rochester, New York (my hometown).

We ended up in Maine and flew out of Boston 27 days after we left California.

It ended up as eleven days with the three of us, sixteen days with just me and my son.

How did it go?

Well, we’re veteran vacationers. As I stated in my previous blog, my husband and I never shied away from vacationing with our son with autism.

It was, at times, very challenging. But, we got through each and every trip.

Overall, I felt the trip went well. I was happy to go and spend time with my husband and son for part of the trip, and just me and son for over two weeks.

Still, there were some challenging moments.

My son did not go completely without meltdowns or near-meltdowns. My son is twelve and still has a tendency to generate negative behaviors over non-preferred topics and/or situations. He’s out of his normal routine while on a vacation. And, he certainly doesn’t eat as well as he does when he’s home.

My son and I had our moments. For the most part, we talked our way out of them. A few times, it took my son a bit to work away from a meltdown. This is a challenge he’s been dealing with for a few years now, and it’s still a work in progress.

The worse one was in NYC where, wisely, my husband recognized that this one had escalated between me and my son, so he stepped in and took over for a few very vital minutes.

He managed to calm our son down.

What happened when you were on your own?

For sixteen days, I had to figure out how to deal with my son all on my own. I was up to the challenge. I find him, at times, frustrating, at other times, amazing. But, for the most part, I know what makes him tick and I sometimes had to remind myself that he’s twelve, he has autism, and he’s not perfect.

One thing that I had to stick to is negotiating.

My son doesn’t take “no” for an answer sometimes. If it’s something that he has his heart set on, he will immediately start to fight the “no.” Or, at least, challenge it.

We worked through several “moments,” and I’m happy to report that we had only one real falling out. When talked it over, and reached an understanding.

The rest of the trip went very well.

What was one consistent challenge?

Negotiating. Isn’t not always easy and it’s often draining.

One thing that stands out to me were the bathroom stops. Sometimes, I felt my son was asking for yet another bathroom stop simply in order to stop and get out for a while.

When I’d ask him about his real reason for wanting to stop, he’s claim that he really did have to go to the bathroom again.

I told him it was okay if his body just needed to get out of the car for a bit, but he worked hard to convince me that it was a need for the bathroom (even though we just stop twenty minutes earlier).

I’m very pleased with the results of this trip. My son was in 17 states, four time zones, Canada for half a day, saw numerous friends and relatives, many more dogs, and seemed to enjoy the experiences.

That’s what it’s all about for me, giving my son life experiences.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss how this long trip benefitted my son—the highs, the proud moments, and the overall joyous times.

More on Kimberly Kaplan:
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