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At this time of year you might be lucky enough to be planning a holiday. And some of you, thanks to a negative experience in the past might be having trepidations – I have some advice that might make it easier and more enjoyable for everyone.
Where I live on the island of Ireland, it can rain for 10 of the 14 days you have set aside for your break. No matter how scenic the location, you do not want to find yourself cooped up in a holiday house with no broadband, no cable tv and the prospect of hanging around the local Supermarket for entertainment.
The usual indoor amusement centres do not work for people with high sensory needs, and they are expensive anyway.
And ‘Long walks in the Rain followed by an Irish Coffee in a local pub’ are for romantic weekends as a COUPLE. Not a family of 4 with no clothes dryer.
So take my advice and go somewhere sunny for your holidays. And fly!
The other good reason to go somewhere “foreign” is the fact that it will take you away from all the local news.
By separating yourself from all that, you can see your kids for who they are, not how society wants to portray them. No bad news on the car radio, no negative newspaper headlines (that you can read) and no need to weigh in on the latest Help/Stop/Restore campaign on social media. Put the tablet and smart phone away and read a book. A happy book.
So here is my advice for traveling independently:
1. When booking your accommodation I have two words: SELF CATER!
Where I come from, Full Board is something that you surf on at the beach, so I find it perplexing to hear anyone complaining about taking meals in a busy dining room full of people who do not understand their child’s behaviour. – Give up on having “The Dinner” at midday and just grab what you need at the supermercado, fill the fridge and let everyone eat when they want.
We use “Rent in Nerja” and “Spainaway” as we know exactly what we want.
Please but go on line and shop around. Great Bargains, Great Flexibility in travel times (traveling on a weekday is much quieter) and you might find some you can make an offer on a few extra days if you are not doing the traditional ‘Saturday to Saturday’ booking.
|Liam walking safely to the pool on the footpaths at Capistrano Village, Nerja.|
We stay in a lovely complex with a mixture of terraced houses and villas, all with gardens with a high stone wall and lockable gate. You can sit in the sun reading a book in the enclosed garden while the kids are indoors safely amusing themselves watching DVDs or playing on iPads/computers. At regular intervals we go swimming so it is not all screentime!
|Happy to amuse himself typing his stories on his tablet indoors while I read in the sun.|
Many of the airline and booking companies will recommend car hire companies, taxis or even organise transport for you. Just ask.
|Traveling is much simpler with the regulation carry on bag only. And the essential “Autism” tee-shirt.|
It does mean you limit the amount of liquids you can carry, but you can always buy more shampoo, bath gel etc at the supermarket when you get to your holiday house.
While I have to carry the exact brand of Apple juice for Grace, we always let Liam order a diet coke as it is part of his reward for flying.
Top Tip: If you are considering pre-flight sedatives, get a doctor’s advice as Phenergan and Valium can have the opposite effect. And test all meds at home 1-2 days before the flight.
I write my mobile number on my kid’s arm with a sharpie marker.
Stripes are also very easy to see from a distance and easy to describe if god forbid, you do need help to catch a runaway. Liam also has an old iPhone which he knows how to answer. I ring it if I can’t see him.
Make a visual calendar that shows each day and a photo to represent each activity eg. Beach, pool, cafe etc. Follow what your child actually likes and don’t force them to live up to anyone else’s expectations of what a “holiday” should be about.
Doing the same thing every day actually works well. They know what to expect, you get to relax.
|Liam’s daily aperitif of coke and a ham sandwich in Cafe Anahi
|Liam always gets his favourite table in El Merendon, the outdoor pizza place.|
If your kids are verbal, teach them to say Hello, Please and Thank you in the local language and prompt them to use it wherever you go. People love it when you make an effort.
Tip well, use the same cafes or coffee shops regularly and you will find you are welcomed back and indulged next time.
You can even practice ordering in Spanish (or French or German) yourself using Grace App. Download the App and Follow the guide on the website here. You can switch it back to English when you get home.
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