Navah Paskowitz Asner is an avid surfer, model and above all a busy mom of six. Residing in the San Fernando Valley, she travels with her husband Matt Asner and their Brady Bunch family of Autism. Currently, she is the Chief Operations Officer at ED ASNER FAMILY CENTER in the Greater Los Angeles Area and helps run their family enrichment centers and conferences.
What’s your family travel ‘style’?
Honestly, we have never found a way to travel with ALL EIGHT of us! The two older kids have moved out, and yes, we have made a few short trips to the nearby Orange County area. But usually, it is just Matt and I and our three youngest boys with autism.
How do you prepare the kids?
I think in any trip planning, making up stories about the “adventure” to come and watching youtube videos is essential. We even took Eddy, Wolf, and Willy on an airplane simulation experience before they ever flew on an airplane! In my opinion the more planning and preparing you can do beforehand the better off you are when the event comes up!
Does anyone in your family have any sensory sensitivities you need to take into account?
Oh Yes, Definitely! Wolf is very anxious and tends to get physically sick on long trips. So we always prepare and have all his “tools” handy. He likes editing music with his headphones on. Eddy, too, needs his headphones if we are attending events or flying (especially during take-off and landing.) So, I always carry earplugs in my bag.
Willy needs frequent bathroom breaks and to sit alone at times to re-boot as he calls it. He is obsessed with toilets, particularly black toilets or bidets. This year he finally conquered his fear of the water, and I got him diving underwater!
What are your tricks to bounce back from long trips?
Well, I don’t have any but taking them swimming help.
In fact, the kids swim 24/7 365 days a year. In addition, I am pretty strict about sugar consumption and early bedtimes. so they can keep their routine.
Any strategies you’d like to share how you make your kids feel less overwhelmed on travels?
I pack loads of snacks I would not usually offer, I-pads and plenty of painting materials. Wolf brings his favorite music that helps calm him down.
Any places on your bucket list you’d like to take the kids?
More than anything Id love to take the whole family to TEL AVIV!
The city has been a part of my family history since birth. In fact, my father, Dr. Dorian Paskowitz brought the very first surfboard to Israel in 1958, and he is considered by many locals the “father of Israeli surfing.”
Wolf recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah, and he is dying to go. Matt‘s two biological sons were not raised religiously Jewish, so he would also love to have them both have some edited version of the ceremony one day.
My second travel spot and personal love is Hawaii since I lived there as a kid until age twelve. Eddy and Willy have never been, but I taught all my kids to surf, so I am dreaming of bringing Eddy there one day soon.
Your packing philosophy is -go without or overpack ?
My husband Matt nicknamed me OVERPACK PASKOWITZ ASNER! I do ALL the packing for everyone. So, I have Matt take the kids out, and I start my piles and endless lists- itis pretty serious business. Bottom line- If we are going somewhere for a weekend, I make sure to pack enough for a month per person!
The one hotel amenity your family can’t do without?
BATHTUBS! Now that is a must in our family!
Favorite dream lodging?
Disney’s Aulani resort is where we would love to go since we have never been there yet. Now locally, the Disneyland Hotel is incredible, as is Disney’s Grand Californian because of the size of the rooms offered!
Why would travel be relevant to a family with autism?
Traveling with autism should not be that different than traveling with a neurotypical family. Of course, there are some challenges but nothing we can’t overcome as parents. After all, everyone loves to see new sights and experience adventures. So, why should anyone miss out on that?
Worst travel experience and what have you learned from it?
Traveling without an iPad! I get hives just thinking about it! The I-pad is genuinely magical for any family traveling with autism
Best day trip itinerary?
We travel about once a month as a family to Orange County to visit our grandmother who just moved to a retirement community. Then we hop over to San Onofre to surf and end the day feasting on Fish and Chips in nearby Dana Point Harbor!
The one thing you would never leave home without?
Originally published October 14th, 2016. Revised November 4th, 2018.