The subtitle of this blog post is:
How to travel across the world with your autistic toddler and not die.
We are back in South Africa and SO HAPPY to be home!! We just finished a whirlwind trip in the USA that we titled #Princetober as we traveled all over the USA. We found ourselves in Charlotte, North Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina, Richmond, Virginia, Wilmington, North Carolina and Corinth, Mississippi. Can you believe there were places we missed out visiting this time?!? It was a fast and FRUITFUL trip and we are so thankful for the ministry we were a part of while back in our first home.
Much preparation goes into a trip with that much travel, connecting, speaking and ministry, but much of it went into getting our sweet Keller James ready for all the travel and change. Now being three and on the autism spectrum, uprooting his life for 5 weeks and filling it with great challenges of new social connections and flexibility requirements would ask a lot of him. We created 'social stories' to explain the plane rides and had lots of books to talk about the entire experience and prepared him as best we could, but eventually we had to just bite the bullet and jump on those airplanes! I began looking for #AutismAngels around every corner to help make the trek easier and God truly did provide the most kind and supportive people all along. I had little cards that explained autism and passed them out all over the place and so people knew from the beginning that we might have challenges - but Keller turned out to be a little doll! He played with dinosaurs, watched movies, talked and laughed, and even slept a bit. Truly all the travel was NO BIG DEAL and the hours easily went by. It was MIRACULOUS. Keller was full of peace and joy the entire way!!
So here I have some tips on
"How to travel the world with your autistic toddler and not die"
1. DON'T FREAK OUT!! Yes, every part of your heart and brain wants to DIE even before you leave the door but don't freak!! Everything is going to be okay, no one is going to die, and worse things have happened! Be super CHILLED because you CAN!
2. Bring EVERY TOY YOU HAVE. And every movie. And EVERY SNACK. Just do it. Pack up every carry-on suitcase you have and bring it all on the plane. You never know what you will need and it's just worth it. Don't think twice about it. Be SUPER over-prepared and don't feel bad!
3. Bring FUN new stuff! New dinosaurs!! New movies!! New snacks!! No, your child with autism probably won't want anything new BUT WHAT IF HE DOES?!? Then he will be SUPER HAPPY! Be super HOPEFUL and don't feel bad!
4. TELL EVERYONE YOU SEE ABOUT AUTISM. Just do it. You never know what could happen and people might need to give you grace. Your child might be FINE and then they will praise Him for how well he does! Your child might have the meltdown of his life and you will need grace! You might just have a normal toddler who does BOTH and you can teach someone about autism and what it means. Just talk about it. LOUDLY. So other people around you overhear the conversation, you know? And ignore your husband who thinks you are being ridiculous. Oh do that last thing for ALL THESE TIPS. Be crazy friendly to the world and you will be glad you did!
5. PRAY. Just pray before over your child and for every moment of the trip. Pray while you are traveling. Pray for #AutismAngels around every corner. Pray for favor and ease and grace and beauty. Just pray for God to be everywhere because how great would that be?!?
And those are the easy steps to go from SURVIVAL mode to THRIVAL mode. Yes I made up a word. We talk about survival mode, but what happens when you survive something and actually THRIVE?!? It's called #ThrivalMode. It's a GOOD place, a GRACE place, a FULLNESS place, a GOD place. Thrival is GREAT and it's possible. God loves taking us from survival to THRIVAL in every challenging place in our lives so look for that place with Him in your difficult situations!