Colin Brennan is a vivacious kid with autism, from Canada, who loves to sing and aspires to become the next Justin Bieber.
Colin has participated in several local and international talent shows and hoped to become an inspiration to the Autism Community with his talent. According to his dad, Colin was singing even before communicating in whole sentences.We got a chance to chat with his dad, Gordon, who is also his manager about how Colin deals with travel, fame and autism.
How you prepare Colin for pending trips?
Having had much previous experience with Colin and with changes/transitions, especially when Colin was much younger, I learned to pre-prepare him for anything that we are planning on doing, especially involving any extended trips. For example, when we knew that our trip from Oakville Ontario to Vancouver BC (British Columbia) Canada was confirmed,
I went on the internet, on Google Earth and Google images to be precise, and I downloaded and printed as many photographs and pictures of where we would be staying, where Colin would be singing at the UBC Robson Square, even the surrounding areas that looked interesting to view.
I talked about the pending trip from the confirmation date every day until the actual day with him. On the night before our departure date, I took him to the Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, and I did everything with him up to the point of getting the boarding pass that we would be doing the following morning.
He was not upset or anxious but excited and happy to go because of all this pre-planning. The night before our trip I, of course, packed his bag, but more importantly, I made sure he had his full 9 hours of sleep before we drove to the Airport.
How help Colin stay calm and focused during travel?
For the most part, I pretty much explained what we tend to do before heading out on any trip in question #1, but it should be said that patience and flexibility is an absolute must with Colin and with most children on the Autistic Spectrum.
Being patient does NOT mean spoiling the child or letting them do whatever they want however they want. It means that to avoid meltdowns or anything that might be an unexpected occurrence that could or does happen, as his parent I will be flexible in finding solutions on the spot to minimize or even eliminate any possible negative experiences.
It only makes the trip more enjoyable not only for Colin and me but for other passengers of any mode of transport we might use.
Structure and scheduling are important to Colin, and to most children with ASD for that matter, so depending on the trip, we are taking I will use a visual schedule for him to be able to allow him to file away in his very differently wired brain so that he will feel zero anxiousness.
What part of the travel process does Colin find most exciting?
Because I tend to focus our trips to topics, subjects, and things that interest Colin the most, he now gets very excited in knowing that he will be involved in doing that interest for that trip. For example, for our Vancouver trip, he was excited to know that he would be singing for a large group of people. His interest being singing at that point. But I help him to expand his interests for the trip. Such as he loves anything to do with elevators. So knowing that we will be using many elevators at the airport, and the hotel was very exciting to him to be able to do.
The anticipation of riding and examining all those new elevators was very exciting to him, therefore making the transitions from one venue of the trip to the next that much easier. I find that Colin prefers to be excited about things.
Things that he might collect on his trip, things he may do that interest him on his journey, not so much in people that he meets unless it is a fellow singer. He was very excited to be able to come together and sing with Janet Panic in Vancouver. He seems, even at his young age of 8 years to have a kindred spirit with fellow singers and musicians in general.
Does Colin have a travel bucket list of places he’d like to see?
I’m not sure about the term “bucket.” So far we have been to Vancouver BC, The Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Sherkston Shores at Lake Erie, Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Centre Island at the Downtown Toronto Islands, Elliot Lake and many of the local tourist spots in Toronto.
As far as where Colin has asked to go where we haven’t been to yet, is Orlando Florida, to see the Harry Potter Theme Park, any Island in the Caribbean where he can go to an excellent white sanded beach, (He loves beaches) and play in the sand and water. This past Christmas he asked to go to the North Pole on the Polar Express Train, (he LOVES anything to do with trains) to see Santa’s workshops!
What souvenirs does Colin enjoy collecting?
Colin loves to collect the little statues that have the city or place listed on them. When we were in Vancouver, he begged me to go to the souvenir shops Downtown ver to buy a fridge magnet that showed the city on it with the word Vancouver on it.We also purchased a crystal statuette that had a painted scene of the Vancouver Landscape with the Mountains in the background.
He loves that statuette! He also really enjoys collecting die cast metal toy aeroplanes, especially ones that he has flown on, such as Westjet, Air Canada, United, American, etc. He also likes to be able to wear some shirt or jacket that has the City/Country that he has visited.