Why Autism Families NEED Vacations Like Everyone Else
It’s actually not hard to explain why autism families need vacations, considering the challenges that they go through on a daily basis. Vacations provide respite to relieve stress and encourage greater family bonds through fun.
I’ll be honest. My heart BROKE when I read this one particular statistic about autism families:
When surveyed by an autism affiliated travel organization, 87% of autism families stated they did NOT take vacations within the last THREE YEARS.*
Why Autism Families DON’T Take Vacations
For some people vacation is not a priority. They never took one as a child and don’t see the necessity now. For others, vacation is only a dream because they cannot financially afford it.
And then there are those families who want one and can afford it but who just don’t go.
Perhaps they believe that vacations would only add to their stress, not take it away. They believe they could not handle the possibilities of even more meltdowns.
They tell themselves…“someday”.
Maybe many autism families are not aware of the greater number of accommodations that are now in place at popular vacation destinations.
Or they don’t realize that their autistic loved one may be totally capable of handling the change of scenery with the right preparation.
By not taking vacations—even smaller staycations on a semi-frequent basis—autism families lose out.
They miss out on opportunities to positively change the family dynamics, especially when they experience high levels of daily stress in the home.
Top 5 Reasons Why Autism Families NEED Vacations
If you are part of an autism family that is hesitant about taking vacations, take a moment to reflect upon these reasons why you MUST take a vacation.
1. Vacations create precious memories.
A unique setting away from home will almost guarantee that you will remember your time there. Was there something you saw that was awe-inspiring? What was the look on your loved one’s faces when they witnessed it as well? Were there moments of laughter?
We love looking at our facial expressions in photos after we rode thrilling attractions at Walt Disney World…cracks us up! Sure, there will be trying times in a new environment.
But there is nothing like reminiscing over moments of pure joy you’ve captured through videos and photos to make it through tough days at home.
Take lots of pictures of your trips. Have conversations at home about what happened during your travels. Use these as a springboard to plan another exciting vacation.
If making memories at home is few and far between, it’s time to take a vacation!
2. Vacations mean greater family bonding.
Ever heard of the phrase, “a family that plays together stays together”? I heartily believe in this.
Everyone needs a break from the daily grind that keeps family members apart, especially when life gets too serious from school, work, or other obligations.
Playing together brings families closer and reminds them what is really important in life: enjoying each other’s company.
My son and I really bond over riding our favorite attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Hollywood Tower of Terror. He acts like a dramatic storyteller giving me the backdrop narrative as we walk through the queue to be seated. His excitement is so infectious that I can’t help but share in it. Then we rush back to the rest of the family to tell them all about what happened on the ride.
Joyful interaction leads to greater bonding, and vacations are the secret recipe for joy!
3. Vacations are therapy.
I strongly believe that vacation is another form of therapy that is necessary for the social, mental, emotional and even physical health of everyone in the family.
When people are placed in new environments it can be a challenge, just like a new therapy.
But many parents have reported amazing strides from their autistic children while on vacations, even at places like Disney. Some spoke new words. Some showed greater resilience to a new schedule and sensory input.
When a child is truly enthralled to be in a place that is tremendously fun and has characters he or she loves, often he or she will show greater motivation and effort to communicate that excitement and to transition better.
My daughter showed a increased willingness to step out of her comfort zone during our past trip to Walt Disney World by going on attractions she would have never dared step foot in before—she went on Space Mountain 3 times with her brother, long after my husband and I pooped out.
We are always amazed at the amount of positive behavioral changes that come with each new visit. Personal growth that would have taken several therapy sessions to achieve happened within one single vacation!
4. Vacations inspire creativity.
A relaxed mind, body and spirit means being more receptive to creative ideas. Exciting destinations and natural environments stimulate “out-of-the-box” thinking that can inspire people to consider new directions in their personal lives.
And that inspiration continues long after you get home from vacation.
For my autistic teens, being at Walt Disney World inspired them to develop public speaking skills playing Walt Disney World tour guides in speech therapy and to create Disney-like symphonies in music therapy.
My son writes fan fiction inspired by the Disney stories, and my daughter draws cartoon characters inspired by the characters.
Those vacations motivated me to become a travel planner as I obsessed about the history and amenities of the parks.
Every time we go our excitement for the park experience grows and fulfills our need for creative inspiration.
5. Because life is short!
Do you ever look back on the past wishing you made a different choice?
Many people often regret that they didn’t take time out to do what they really wanted to do, and taking more vacations is one of them.
Vacations give people a better perspective on their lives, something that is hard to do at home. The respite from vacation allows them to do several things:
- contemplate what really matters
- take stock of what they need to do to further their purpose and fulfill their dreams
- analyze if something they are doing in their daily lives is really worth the effort.
Knowing that her time on earth was short, my sister took a “bucket-list” vacation to the Fiji Islands. She took as many opportunities to see the world within the year before she died. I know she left very happy and fulfilled.
As some have said, “we only have today”. So, go out and explore the world today with your family.
Don’t short-change yourself…“seize the day”!
More Autism Accommodations than Ever Before
There is much greater awareness of the needs of autism are in the public consciousness. And more vacation destinations are stepping up to assist more effectively.
Cruises now cater to families with different sensory needs. Theme parks include information and accommodations to help those on the spectrum. And many destinations are become certified autism centers.
There are simply fewer reasons NOT to take a vacation in light of the fact that more destinations are becoming autism-friendly.
I understand that you may be afraid to take that leap into a strange environment with a child who craves routine and structure. Here are some tips to help you face those vacation fears!
Experience a Well-Rounded Life through Travel
Will you “seize” the opportunity to make memories?
Do you want to forge greater bonds with your family?
Would you like to experience the potential therapeutic benefits through exploration of a new destination?
Do you and your family desire to be creatively inspired?
Are you super ready let go of the stress that is keeping you and your family from feeling connected?
If yes to any or all, then start planning that vacation…TODAY!
I would love to be a part of your vacation planning! Just click on this link for a free travel consultation!