” That’s what traveling with our kids is all about, finding out what works for your family . I do my best.”
[caption id="attachment_10068" align="aligncenter" width="640"] photo credit Jane Tipton[/caption]Greetings! I’m Jane, a single mother, parent to four kids.Two of my kids are adults while my teenager and autistic five-year-old live with me.) I am an autism advocate and CEO of Autism in Long Beach. AILB is a California Non-Profit with 501(c)(3)status.We help provide much-needed services for families in Long Beach and surrounding areas. I started our group to implement community inclusion, sibling inclusion and give direct support to families. We also work closely with a Trinity Autism Foundation in Uganda. My youngest son Tafari is 5 1/2 years old, non-verbal, and a handful of love! My philosophy in raising him is to choose my battles, be open to his thought process, and integrate him into society. How do I travel? In my community, or out? I can give you a simple answer. Let’s start with going out. I don’t.! Come on now, he’s only five, and I’ve pretty much been there done that since he is my fourth child. He is still young and with so much activity in our community, I am fortunate that I don’t have to worry about long trips. Eventually, I will have to prepare him, as most of my family members are overseas in Uganda but maybe then I can pack you, Margalit, to come with us. For now, I’m still staying on my “choose my battles” mode. Our travels consist of city limits, which, as we all know is a journey in itself.
Which brings us to cruising around town -not much for most folks can be such an adventure for us!
The first thing is to start preparations the night before. I bag every treat that he likes. Yes, I confess, sometimes I throw healthy out the window! My thought is that if that gets us from point A to B while making him comfortable, I’m OK with it, for now. Nutrition will have to come into play later. I also let him nap him at any time he chooses. Yes, you may think your kid is too old for a nap but the bottom line even us moms need them. So I give him that short power nap. I lay down with him and play goodnight. Even if he doesn’t sleep, he gets that quiet time to gather his senses and calm him for the future city sensory overload. Of course, it may interrupt our sleep at night. But this is about travel, so as they say in YAA (Young Autistics Anonymous) one meltdown at a time is all I can do! I believe parents need to learn it, love it and let your child be who they are.
What do I pack? The short answer is a little for me and everything for him!
Favorite toys, Sensory games, and most important. His personal GPS must always be there. However, his GPS isn’t what you may think: in fact, it is a poster board/roadmap.
On that board we get to mark every place we go to and that I want my son to recognize and remember. The first spot marked is our house, the bus, and then each stops with a pic of where we are headed like friends houses, the local park/skate park or the BBQ place we frequent.
We may not be your perfect or conventional household, but this works for us. In my opinion, that’s what traveling with our kids is all about, finding out what works for your family, so I try to do my best.
In the end, if the day is cut short by a meltdown, then I stop and acknowledge his feelings, because, I did all I could do and now it’s time to listen to him. If I did my job as a mom to set him up for a good day, and it didn’t work, then maybe today just isn’t his day- and that’s okay too.
Jane & Tafari]]>