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Vacationing is crucial for all, especially families of special needs kids.

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When it comes to entertainment, those of us with children on the spectrum know how limited we are with what we can do as a family. This is because of sensory issues, the limitations sometimes from autism and related special needs and of course financial reasons. We spend a lot of money on therapy, doctors, specialized diets, medications, and replacements of items. This can be from expensive things like mattresses to every-day items like soap that are used or worn out at an exponentially higher ratio than the household of typical kids. So getting away, takes 3 things, sacrifice, savings, and settling.

Getting away is also one of the only times we get to be a family. It is the only time in my house we sit together to eat. It is the closest we get to normal. And when your daily life is full of apprehension and stress, you have to make it a priority to get away, because as I have discovered-there is no vacation fairy. But I swear that one day when I am ridiculously wealthy and wicked famous, vacation fairy will be my new job.

It is obvious to any parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as to why there needs to be programs at amusement parks like Disney, Busch Gardens, Sesame place etc. that allow for better access to rides. This is probably true for many parents of children with varying special needs. The bottom line is you want your family to be able to enjoy a day of fun. That is the whole point of going to a theme park, and since the parks are in the business of fun- they want to make money and make you happy.

This may be one of the choices you make as an option for family time-especially if your child is sensory seeking. Amusement parks have more options when it comes to affordability, and its one stop shopping. You can spend time riding rides, or watching shows, or just enjoying your surroundings. You don’t have to plan a whole bunch of different activities. Our kids have trouble with transitions and getting use to new places, plus they don’t generally generalize. So what may be a rule at home or at one place doesn’t apply everywhere. But one of the main reasons for choosing a place like Disney or Busch Gardens is because of their accessibility programs designed to help families like ours with shorter wait times.

There are of course other options such as beach vacations, or even just staying somewhere new that has a pool. You will have to pick with what works for your child. My son could not be on a beach at one time, it was darn right painful to him (and to me the beach lover). But now after a lot of practice and therapy it’s one of the best places for him, since most beaches are either free or cheap, and its nonstop entertainment with endless sand and wave riding.

Just don’t be afraid, you can find something that works. And don’t assume you need thousands of dollars to vacation either. If you can get lodging for either cheap, or from a friend that has a timeshare, you may only need the normal money you would spend. Nearly every trip we have ever taken was only a few hundred dollars, and yes it takes several months to several years to save for (in the case of Disney). But it’s well worth what we sacrifice daily to have that family time, that bit of normal, and for the stress levels to just start to level off. Now, having a nanny of sorts, or help makes it even better. For one thing all parents know, is if you have young kids and you are on vacation, it’s not a vacation by definition, it certainly isn’t that of our youth. But it is still of value.



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