Five Tips on Taking A Child with Autism on Holiday

September 30, 2014

We recently were inspired to take a short family holiday (or vacation for you Americans) as it’s been such a hectic season of life around here.  A couple nights on the coast of South Africa in peacefulness and rest.

Oh and we were planning on bringing our son with autism too.

So I now would like to share five TIPS on taking your child with autism on a holiday:

1. DON”T EVER TAKE A CHILD WITH AUTISM ON A HOLIDAY/VACATION/DAY OUTING/ANYWHERE OTHER THAN HOME.  What are you thinking??  Your child has AUTISM?  Everything new and different makes them completely stressed out and scared.  If you are ever thinking of taking your child with autism to a new place for a rest take that thought and put it in a treasure chest, dig a hole, bury it and only retrieve it again in 10 years when life bears some sense of normalcy.  Do NOT take your child with autism on holiday.

2. Did you see number one??  Just wanted to remind you in case you were tempted to not listen to me.  If you are sure you want to try this holiday thing, get ready for major meltdowns.  Oh, you think you are use to your child with autism having meltdowns?  You haven’t seen meltdowns until you have experienced holiday/vacation meltdowns.  The travel and new environments will cause your child’s brain to completely short out and melt into a puddle.  This will result in LOTS. OF. CRYING.  LOTS.

3. Okay, so if you still determined to take your child with autism on a “STRESS-CATION” as Keller would have termed it if he could speak clearly, then you need to load down your car with LOTS and LOTS of __________ (whatever your child with autism is crazily obsessed with).  For us this is trucks, books, and the iPad.  Have them available at EVERY MOMENT.

4. Also very important for your “STRESS-CATION” is your own favorite __________ (wine, chocolate, cake, movies, books, heavy narcotics, whatever makes YOU happy as a parent).  Eventually your crazy kids fall asleep and the quiet noises will be as loud as a construction site.  Make sure you have something to do as parents because you will not be preparing for the next day of school/therapy/driving to activities/playdates/etc that you normally do.  You get to REST as shocking as it is, so make sure you bring some things to help you rest.

5. Last tip – even though your holiday may be a “STRESS-CATION,” count the costs and do it anyways.  GO!

It is hard and it is exhausting to take a child with special needs on a holiday but it’s worth the effort/stress/crying/trouble.  In the end the joy of being together and resting and making new memories is WORTH IT.

Keller struggled at first to get use to the long drive but he (we) made it.  Keller struggled being in a new house and figuifng out his new surroundings but he (we) did it.  Keller struggled to sleep in a new place that wasn’t home but he (we) did it.  Keller didn’t love our hiking adventures and outings but he (we) did it.  We all did it.  Together.  And it was special and beautiful.

So go!  Head out on your own stress-cation… I mean HOLIDAY soon!