Have you found yourself asking the question "We want to go on a vacation but we’re not sure how our child will react?"
Going on vacation with children is challenging, but going on vacation with a child who has sensory or motor challenges is especially challenging. However, I'm sure you would agree that taking a break would be beneficial to everyone. So, let’s talk about some strategies that could help both you and your child. Choose a setting that the child may find interesting and fun.
Limit the number of hours - If it’s going to be noisy or busy, try to limit the number of hours you’re there and make sure that you have a plan B for some down time to regroup.
Plan ahead - either go through pictures, create a social story or view on a lap top to let the child know where you’re going and what they’ll be seeing.
Call ahead - Ask about special accommodation if you think it will make your life easier. You’d be surprised at what businesses can and will do to help you.
Anticipate where along the way your child may have challenges - Such as, the check-in at the airport, boarding the plane, disembarking the plane, or activities for a long car drive.
Don’t rush - We all lose it when we’re rushing, and your child can sense your angst.
Aside from the fun, think about all the social, emotional and cognitive benefits of a change of environment.
Expose your child to as much of the world as possible - Spending time in a variety of environments creates more opportunities to see, think, feel, move and explore.
Expose the world to your child - It is so important! Autism awareness, Cerebral Palsy awareness, wheelchair use. Exposing people to children who are neurodiverse or who use adaptive equipment is an important part of inclusion and accessibility.
Enjoy each other - Family time is really important!
Change of Scenery - You’ve worked really hard, and it’s really important for you to have a change of scenery.
Ultimately, on the surface vacation is simply fun. On a deeper level, it allows a family to create new memories, participate in new experiences, and to do it together. Every minute of every day is a teaching experience. By changing the experience, you’re expanding your child’s scope of the world.
This experience will look different for each family based on finances, location and the abilities of a child. But, when all is said and done, and A LOT of preplanning, everyone comes out on the other side empowered.
Your child will be exposed to things that cannot be taught at home or in a classroom, a trip expands your child’s life experiences thereby expanding their horizons, and lastly, make accessibility a current topic for places of business and in the general populace. Go and see all you possibly can.