Q&A with Jamie Grover of Autism on the Seas
How did you start working with families with autism?.
I worked for UCLA and injured my back, requiring two back surgeries. My friend who happened to be the director of the university center for developmental disabilities asked me if I would work with him. I did, and I soon realized I had found my true calling.Needless to say, I’ve never looked back.
Can you describe a day onboard?.
Our kids are included with the assistance of my staff and Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean (kids club) staff together with the typical children exclusive to our group on every cruise.Also, we have special events that are unique to our group of guests. Families can participate in any or all our private activities that vary depending on what ship we are cruising on. These activities include Galley Tours, Bridge Tour, Rock Wall, Ice Skating, Meet & Greet in the Ships Disco, playing bingo, doing crafts, and Pool Parties to name a few.
Describe your most gratifying experience on board so far.
This is an easy question to answer!
On almost every cruise, I hear the amazement in the parent’s voices when they see their son or daughter do something remarkable that they would never have guessed they would have ever witnessed.
Seeing their child ice skating for the first time, climbing the rock wall, involved in an activity with typical children in the Adventure Ocean group, participate in the Pirate Parade with the group, all things parent’s love to see! Totally priceless!
Will Autism on the Seas be expanding to other cruise lines, land vacations or shore excursions shortly?.
That’s the plan.
Autism on the Seas is currently organizing our first European Cruise in spring 2012. We also welcome hearing from our fans, friends, and families of cruise destinations they are most interested in. We have and are willing to customize any group cruise wherever there is a need and a group of folks requiring our assistance.
I only host one shore excursion on our cruises, and that takes place our first day in port in Bermuda. I love Bermuda and know a fantastic place on the island that Is picture perfect for everyone, young or seasoned, in our group. Most families in other ports of calls buddy up and do excursions in small groups, and that’s always fantastic to see.
Any advice you want to share with our traveling families with autism?.
Yes… The most valuable advice that I can offer is for parents to let go a little so both kids and parents can enjoy themselves on vacation.
We all want our children to be as independent as possible; most parents need to step back a little and give their kids some freedom to do just that!
As parents to special needs children we often let our FEAR take precedence our allowing our children the opportunity to flourish. Our kids do amazing things when given a little freedom and independence, especially under the watchful eyes of my staff and me on every cruise.