Packing for a transfer must include favourite items, food and digital entertainment. Forget any of these three necessities and there is potential for a meltdown. Food must be allergy free – no dairy, egg, fish, nuts, corn, wheat. Perfection free – no breaks, no marks, no black bits. And easily accessible – no tricky openings, no fussy lids, no multi packages. Of course it also needs to be the same brand that is supplied on a daily basis, pizza must of course only come in a red box.
Once food is sorted, next is the entertainment. Devices that are guaranteed to play the same movie that has been seen 1000 times must be readily available. And fully charged. Must remember the chargers. IPods, IPhones, IPads, IBooks, I really hope they’ve all been fully charged. One of each child and a spare just in case I’ve forgotten to charge. Did I mention the need to charge all equipment? Must not forget.
Arrangements cannot be forgotten for the arrival destination either. How many beds, who gets the top bunk and having the correct softness of blankets are all essential items. Keeping the new environment as close as possible to their usual enclosures, I mean bedrooms, is extremely important. Ensuring the correct number of pillows, accessibility to bathrooms and an easily reached power point (yep it’s the charging thing again) are all top of the list in ensuring a calm and happy holiday. Don’t forget the chargers.
Unfortunately not all environments can be as controlled as my three aspies would like. Often the cleaners have not used the “right” product. It’s just not clean unless it’s Pine-o-cleaned. Sensory alarms can be easily set off when a room smells funny, is too hot or too cold. The sheets are too scratchy or the room is too bright. All of these factors have to be taken into consideration, some will be tolerated, others will not.
Over the years my husband and I have developed a plan, a strategy, that allows us to travel with our three aspies with as little disturbance to the other worldly residents as possible. We travel to places where children are accepted, welcomed and encouraged. Although other children may be somewhat more tamed than ours, our three are allowed to stand out, be themselves, and have fun.
There is of course also a kids program, but the leaders are unknown, the food unpredictable and the other inhabitants are foreign. Best to stay clear of the kids program to ensure a meltdown free holiday. The water park has some rules, all of which are easy to follow, as long as the ADHD meds are working. And there’s always the option for the boys to retreat to their room, their digital entertainment, and their happy place.
Long cues can be a nightmare with ADHD performances from Mr 8. No, he doesn’t need to go to the toilet, he always dances like that, and no, he can’t stand still and stop bumping into you, and no, he’s not drowning, he always swims like that. Please don’t yell for the lifeguard, he can swim. Fine, we’ll go to the shallow end! Yep, we do things differently and we do stand out. But, we’re still having fun.
Part of the survival of the theme park is the navigation of the gift shop. Rules need to be clearly defined before free reign is given. You may have one item; the budget is $15 dollars. You may only ask the shop attendant two questions and no, he doesn’t know why the item you saw here two years ago isn’t still on the self. Don’t touch it unless you think you’re going to choose it. And no meltdowns after you change your mind when we get back to the resort. You get what you get, and you don’t get upset, otherwise it goes in the charity box!
Holidays are an essential part of family life. I love holidays, especially when there’s no cooking, cleaning or washing. I’m easily pleased. As long as my family is happy, and I have my morning cup of tea, I’m happy.
I’ve just started planning my ultimate family holiday. My Three Aspies do Europe, aspie style. The plan is to hire a motor home. That way the inside environment is the same every day. Same bed, same sheets, some place to put your Lego and of course there’s power points. The outside may change, but at least they can look out the window and see the Eiffel tower, whilst Mummy climbs it! I can watch the sunset in Tuscany, without worrying about a touring timetable and an overstimulated aspie. But most importantly, on the journey I have planned there’s a Legoland at the beginning in London, and at the end in Denmark, so I have no shortage of bribery to ensure I have three happy aspies.
So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all, I hope you find a way to achieve the perfect aspie family holiday in your life. When in doubt, there is always the option of spending a few hours at the zoo. Plenty to see there, and you may even pick up a few handy ideas. But whatever you do, don’t forget the chargers!