5 Reason’s to Travel with Children on the Autism Spectrum
- Traveling with your children on the autism spectrum helps build memories and a stronger connection.
- Traveling to new places can enhance learning and promote hands-on education.
- Traveling will help build self-confidence in your child, as they experience new environments and routines successfully
- Travel with help your child build relationships with extended family and friends while exploring new places together
- Travel exposes children with autism to new and different things and helps strengthen life skills.
Our Story – Why We Travel on the Spectrum
As someone with a self-diagnosed Gypsy heart, I was always on the go looking for a new adventure and with a husband who’s Family was a 24-hour plane ride away, traveling was just a part of our lives. When I became a mom I didn’t want that to stop, I wanted to show my children as much of this world as I possibly could.
By the time my oldest son was four, he had been to Brazil 5 times, living there for six months, he’d been camping in the mountains of New Hampshire and to countless beaches and Family packed vacations.
Then suddenly that gypsy heart had to slow down. Four years into this thing called motherhood I added Twins to our growing family and I began to think my passion needed to change. Aidan was my fearless child the child that would jump down a flight of stairs and not get hurt, the child that would stand on top of doorknobs to unlock countless locks that I had attached to the door to keep this child from running. He was the child and climbed out of his crib by eight months and could jump over all the safety gates within a second.
I remember the first time we went camping as a family of five, the twins were about twelve months old and I thought for sure that was the first and last vacation I’d be taking for a long time. Then, six months after that trip I was sitting in my living room surrounded by Early Intervention therapists being advised that Aiden likely had autism. I was a roller coaster of emotions for weeks to come, happy to have answers, relieved that I wasn’t crazy, scared for his future, sad that I wouldn’t be able to show him the lifestyle I’d shown Anthony.
Yet, this is the hand we were dealt and I needed to do everything in my power to set him up for the best future possible. We moved forward at full force with doctors, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech. My house was a revolving door for the next 2 1/2 years between early intervention, ABA therapy, and trips into Boston. During that time, all I could do was what moms do when faced with this type of Situation, I googled, I read, I learned everything about autism that I possibly could.
The more I learned, the more I recognized the difference between what I thought autism was and what it actually is. All of a sudden I started watching the delays my daughter had and the quirks that my oldest had when it came to speech and touch. Suddenly my eyes opened to a disability that I had no idea effected all 3 of my children, thankfully we had amazing doctors and therapists who got everyone on a treatment course.
During all of this, travel was the last thing on my mind. For those two years leaving the house with the three kids scared me to death. My husband worked long hours, so I didn’t leave our apartment. Even the thought of going to the grocery store with the three of them, scared me because Aidan could run if I looked away for a split second, and I would have two children with severe speech delays standing there while I am in a parking lot chasing a toddler.
Then my husband had a family emergency and we needed to travel to Brazil. Talk about anxiety! My oldest had taken trip several times so I knew he could handle it and I knew that my daughter would be similar, but Aidan, I was frantic, the boy who melts my heart at just the right moment was also the boy who couldn’t sit still for any length of time and I was about to bring him on a plane. Plus with two layovers and 24 hours of traveling time this wasn’t an ordinary first plane ride.
Our first leg of the trip was from Boston to New York, Our family was separated and I remember Aidan screaming for his father during the entire takeoff and the entire plane staired at us with the nastiest looks on their faces, I almost gave up and burst into tears right there knowing I couldn’t do anything because we where taking off, but it passed. We got up in the air and I switched spots with my husband, my nerves were shot but to my surprise, we had no more incidence for the rest of our flights. We got to Brazil, and yes some other flyers weren’t pleased by Aidan’s take off scare, but everyone survived, everyone, made it, everyone even got some sleep on the plane. I remember watching Aidan’s face light up when he saw the animals on our family’s farm, and laugh uncontrollably while pretending to use the payphones. It suddenly dawned on me that I was underestimating my son and holding us all back from making these incredible memories due to my own fears.
From then on we traveled, and I can’t sugar coat it, we have had many more experiences like that first flight but that ok. It’s not always easy traveling with autism, it doesn’t always look the same as everyone else’s family vacation, but it is always worth it and it is always special.
I encourage you to travel. Do the planning, take the plunge, and make the memories. In the hard moments remember it is worth it and they will pass. In the perfect moments, soak them in and soon enough you will notice the amazing a lot more often than the struggle.