This week I’m in San Francisco attending the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. I have attended this conference for six straight years.
How do I travel and yet leave my child with autism at home?
Besides the six times I’ve been to this conference, I’ve only been away from my child (for longer than one night) one other time which was a week away with friends.
In the ten years my son has been around, I have only been away from him seven times. (This does not count the numerous times I’ve been out at night and arrived home well after he had fallen asleep. Yet, during those times, I had always seen him, at some point, during the day.)
How do you travel without your child?
This piece of advice is for BOTH parents, but especially for the parent that is the stay-at-home parent of a special needs child.
My best advice to you about traveling is…DO IT!
Try to take a break at least once a year. Go with your significant other and leave your child with grandma for a weekend. Or grab a couple of friends, leave the child with Daddy, and take a drive to somewhere fun for a night. Or, go to a conference.
Parents of special needs kids need the break.
Trust me, you need it!
So give yourself a break…and do it guilt free.
Can we just take off?
Well, you could, but I don’t recommend leaving without “setting up” things beforehand.
First, I have always tell my child I’m going away a few weeks beforehand. My child has never liked surprises, I know he doesn’t like them, and he’s also very sensitive when it comes to me. I try not to toss last minute “Mommy location changes” on him.
Second, if my child is in school, I will inform his aide and maybe even his teacher that I’m going out of town. I do this just to let them know why my child may act out. I just want them to know that he may be a little off because he knows Mommy is not around and this affects him.
Third, I coordinate things with my child’s daddy (if Daddy is staying home). I do this because I am typically “in charge” of most things in and around the house as well as regarding our son.
What this means is I have to let my husband know what he has to be in charge of while I’m away. I do my best to not overwhelm Daddy, but he knows he needs to step it up and take over some things that aren’t typical for him. And, he always does a fine job.
The last thing I have to do is get things organized for myself!
All of this adds up and may feel like a lot of work, but it’s worth it!
What should you do when you’re away?
Well, I have to admit to a weakness. I do love to give my child gifts. So, yes, when I’m away, I usually buy something for my child. It makes him happy to get something from “Mommy’s trip” and it makes me happy to give it to him.
The least you should do, in my opinion, is call your child on the phone – NO texting or emails. It will make her feel good to hear your voice. So, please, call your child at least once a day.
Oh, and be gushy on the phone. “I miss you, buddy,” is something your child would love to hear!
What else should I do?
Try not to extend your trip. I know two more days in Hawaii is really cool, but if you told your special needs child that you were only going to be away for a week, it would be a lot less stressful to not extend your trip. To your child it may feel like you’re breaking a promise and it may hurt him deeply.
Of course, things do happen…like flat tires or a sibling who needs you for an extra day. Do what you have to do. Just remember that your child with autism sometimes locks expectations inside their heads with very thick chains. It can be frustrating for both of you. Just try to be open and honest with her, and hopefully she’ll get through it.
But, remember, take the break!
You deserve it!
To Find Kimberly Kaplan:
www.smashwords.com or Amazon Kindle ebook “A Parents’ Guide to Early Autism Intervention”