One of the things I love most about travel is that travel is different things to different people and it is what you need it to be. It is slow, or fast, or multigenerational or empty nest, or foodie, or adventure. It can also be special needs travel. There are as many ways to travel as there are travellers. This month I am joining 30 other travel bloggers to celebrate all kinds of travel. It’s my second year doing this travel blogger series. You can read each of the amazing posts about travel on wordtraveling.com.
Special Needs Travel
My daughter, 4, boomerangs up and down the stairs to a waterslide meant for children much older. She has charmed a lifeguard in Jamaica into believing she can handle this and she does, repeatedly, beaming each time. By end of day they have nicknamed her Baby Girl and Fish.
In Cancun on the beach my beautiful brown-eyed girl, now 5, drives a baseball down the beach sending players scrambling. I am seated near enough to hear the little boys holler: “Man, that little girl can hit!” My heart swells.
In Punta Cana, I film my kids as they float above the beach dangling over the water, parasailing for the first time. “Is that a child up there?” I overhear this and smile. In a resort in Mexico my daughter teaches all the other children at kid’s club French. Later that day in the pool she makes friends with kids from all over the world.
There are an infinite number of reasons to vote for travel. But these are mine. I vote for special needs travel because I have a family and because my kids have unique needs.
Let me explain.
My children have so many strengths, and a few challenges too. They are my most rewarding experience and also my hardest one. When we first received our youngest daughter’s diagnosis our world got very small. Ainsley couldn’t tolerate noise, or change, or bright lights. She was forever screaming and having meltdowns. We changed her environment to help her cope. Our environment changed too, of course. We made schedules. We took her to all of the therapy appointments, and doctor’s appointments, specialists and assessments and even specialized dentistry. We spent countless hours advocating for support at school. Sometimes that worked. Sometimes it failed. We tried harder. We tried differently. We missed other people’s parties, family functions, showers, and funerals. We were isolated and exhausted, physically, financially and emotionally drained. We were frazzled.
When we reached a plateau where we thought we might be gaining some ground, my other daughter went through a similar process. Summer assessments and weekly therapy were the norm. Missed work, missed school and many phone calls home in the middle of the day. We were drained, collapsing into bed every night. We set one foot in front of the other each day. One day at a time. But the problem with one day at a time is that you can never get ahead and you can never plan ahead. It’s a hard way to be in the world.
For years we didn’t dare to dream of traveling. It was out of reach – it seemed impossible. Both of our daughters’ needs were significant. And yet very slowly we got better at figuring them both out. We evolved into more creative people with an entirely different skill set.
I had loved traveling before we adopted our girls. I dreamed of bringing them with us and seeing different places, and cultures together. Somewhere in the midst of their diagnoses I wondered could we make it work again? My husband doubted we could. Travel with special needs on deck is dicey sometimes. But I kept wondering if not now then when? Managing special needs and parenting with special needs was just another part of our life. The diagnoses wouldn’t go away and my kids deserved to see the world as much as any other child without complex needs. In fact, I feel the case can be made that families with special needs NEED travel even more sometimes. It is essential to our wellbeing. Last year I wrote about how special needs travel is our respite. So we mapped out a way to build our kid’s tolerance for the changes that travel involves.
Read the rest of this post on Word Traveling today – http://wordtraveling.com/vote-special-needs-family-travel/
Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a vacation to Fort Myers and Sanibel over on Word Traveling.com.
Make sure you click over to Wordtraveling.com and Cast your “Vote for Travel’ by entering the awesome $1500 vacation giveaway to the incredible Beaches of Ft. Myers/ Sanibel and to read more posts from other bloggers and family travel experts in our third annual series!
No purchase or real voting necessary!
*Terms and prize details can be found at WordTraveling