Saturday, June 22, 2013

Autism never takes a vacation

But that doesn't mean we won't take one.

That's right!  Pack up your troubles and your PEC pictures and we're gonna on a trip.  Even though the prospect of it is daunting to me.  (One week and counting! YIKES!) I will do this because it is good for my family.

Before the kiddo, we traveled.  My husband and I loved going on trips and when the kiddo came along, well, we just packed him up when he was a mere three months old and took him with us.  I'm not sure what we were thinking taking a baby that young anywhere.  I'm gonna blame that one on complete lack of sleep and me going completely stir crazy at that point being home in "baby nap jail".  It was eye opening to say the least just packing for him.  Here we were dragging him to some resort that my husband's family went every year.  I think the part he liked the best was the colorful bedspread in the hotel room.

Then came autism. We did another trip to the same resort with a very "active" not yet quite diagnosed but in the middle of early intervention two year old and it nearly killed me.  The amount of crap we had to pack grew and I bought a purse that made me feel like a Sherpa.   He ran EVERYWHERE.  In fact, I think we went to same resort but I'm not really sure.  That whole trip is a freaking blur to me.  It set the tone for a few more like that.   Then we added a kiddo who flipped out at every transition, every change of scenery, who wouldn't eat anything except fries, woke up screaming at the butt crack of dawn after being up for hours the night before.  I'm pretty sure the people of that town rejoiced whenever they saw our car leaving.  There was a point where I said to my husband as he planned another trip "I can't do it anymore"  I had a complete meltdown and we didn't go anywhere for a really long time.  

And it sucked!  Hard!  We wanted a vacation.  We earned a vacation.  We deserved a vacation.  So after a few years, a lot of therapy and a good prescription or two for the boy and myself, we tried again.  Slowly at first.   A simple overnight at the infamous family resort.  We planned that trip like a general about to attack at dawn.   We got room service for dinner and then wore his ass out in the hotel pool.  Yeah, it took him forever to go to sleep but he finally did.  I, of course, decided not to sleep and instead panic that he would be up at any moment.  Not a smart idea.  Try not to do that.   Then I produce a magic amount of new toys at breakfast the next morning.  That's right, we took him to breakfast.  We earned to eat a massive amount bacon at the buffet and the toy selection helped.  Then we went to a train museum and a ride and then well home.  It wasn't a lot and it wasn't long but it showed us we could do it.  Yeah we were tired but we all had FUN! 

Every trip since has had it's ups and downs but honestly, it's been mostly ups.  It does require a lot of planning.  We know our kiddo's limits and yes, we do miss out on some stuff because we just know it will be chaos. That kind of blows, I won't lie.   This is the hand I was dealt, I got to make the most of it.   An underlying theme is always visit whatever local train museum is in the area.   Buying tickets before hand online or over the phone to make sure we get on that all important train ride after.  Yes, I now know more about trains that I ever thought possible but hey, it's his vacation too right?  So we go.  We throw in a lot of pool time.  Swimming is excellent sensory so hotels with a pool are a must.  Indoor ones are even better because you don't even have to worry about weather.  Plus an hour or so after dinner of swimming knocks his butt out back in the room.  

There's still extra junk to pack.  No wifi? Not happening.   That iPad is coming on the trip and the portable DVD player.  The various chargers.  Last year I got smart and packed a power strip for all the plugs because there is never enough outlets in hotel rooms for all the stuff.  All the medications and the supplements and the food flipping kills me.   Before kiddo, maybe the husband and I pick up a bottle of wine to drink in the room.  Now?  Three bricks of juice boxes and a trip to the warehouse club for snacks.  He still isn't the best with eating but he's gotten better.  I also know he's so distracted while out that he won't eat enough and will get hungry later.  I got to be prepared.  There will be a seriously discussion of what stuffed animals loveys come with him and I will have to explain we cannot take the whole DVD library from home with us. 

We're headed to a lake resort this time.  I suspect he will probably ignore the lake and prefer the pool but hey, he's worked hard this year at school.  It's his vacation too.  He'll probably live on a diet of chocolate milk and french fries when we go out to eat but if it means I can get a meal I didn't have to plan, cook or clean up, whatever.  It's my vacation too.  At some point my husband will take a long walk alone around the lake when he's tired of seeing his son ignore the lake.  That's okay, it's his vacation too.  We'll roll with it.  We earned it.  Autism doesn't go on break but we can give each other ones.  It's going to be fine. 

I think.

I hope.

I pray.

Fingers crossed!


  1. Good tips! We have been on a long hiatus from big family vacations, but like you, I've been wanting to test the waters again. We have to try these uncertain things every once in a while or how else will we know what they're capable of, right?

  2. Excellent tip regarding the power strip. I will have to remember one next time!

  3. We go on a summer vacation every year. I do remember those vacation before my son's Autism diagnosis. My son was diagnosed at about 3 1/2 years old. He is 10 now. Our vacations are not always easy and they are very well planned, still, every year, I learn something that I need to keep in mind to make the next trip a little easier, less stressful, and more comforting for my guy.

  4. Excellent advice! I also make sure my kids are wearing neon rash guards at the beach--easier to find my boy if he takes off after some seagulls!

  5. It will be will do fine and survive. And I too have my wandering/non-listener/flighty butterfly of a child where a bright rash guard...easier to spot!

  6. Excellent post!! Thank you for sharing your experience with us!