Building on his experiences, we hope to make the world a more comfortable place for him to be, while still allowing him to withdraw and slip into his “own world” (his words) when he feels the need.” [caption id="attachment_10178" align="aligncenter" width="640"] photo credit Pam Blackburn[/caption] Mother’s Day always reminds me how blessed I am! I’m Pam Blackburn, proud mother of five children ranging in age from thirty years old down to seventeen. My husband Ron, and I, built our family in a non-traditional way; some of our kids are our birth children while others are adopted. Nonetheless, all are loved special needs or otherwise. Traveling is something we often did when the kids were younger, but less now, as WE grow older. It’s become difficult to go on trips with my daughters because they require round the clock care total care, and it can become exhausting for us to provide that.We’ve also realized that they do not enjoy the change of routine and have difficulty adjusting to new surroundings , so we try to minimize interfering with their daily schedule as much as we can. But it is different with our youngest son Zach who has autism. He likes a going away on trips as often as possible though shorter outings work best for him.We are lucky that in Arizona, the State we currently reside in, it is easy to find an excursion close to home that offers a whole different landscape or ecosystem.Over the past few years, we’ve managed to take many day and overnight trips that Zach found enjoyable and not too overwhelming. Keeping in mind the type of activities he enjoys, along with his love for music and video games makes travel planning easier and more pleasant for all involved. We pack the iPad, iPod, lots of snacks, plenty of water, and off we go. Ron and I enjoy the wilderness, hiking, ‘off-roading’ and geo-caching, and being off the beaten trail while Zach prefers theme parks the likes of Disneyland and rides though ironically he dislikes crowds. What we’ve discovered is that he prefers what feels familiar, so if we happen to take a trip to Disney, we make sure to give him the experience of the ocean or mountains and add in a hiking adventure, to satisfy his love for climbing or swimming. In doing so, these activities become familiar, and he gradually has a wider range of activities that become part of his comfort zone. We are planning to add more travel and yet-to-be-known adventures to our journey as Zach graduates from high school this coming June. Building on his experiences, we hope to make the world a more comfortable place for him to be while still allowing him to withdraw and slip into his “own world” (his words) when he feels the need to do so. Giving him more adventures brings my husband, and I joy, satisfies our collective desire for travel, and opens up the world to all of us that we would not have otherwise known existed.
Margalit Sturm Francus
A reformed dentist who gave up pulling teeth to show her son the world! Need tips on how to #travel with #autism? Follow me on Instagram & Facebook