Vacation with Autism

We always go on vacation at Easter time. The boys have 2 weeks off from sachool, Erwin schedules his week off at the beginning of the year, and we steal away to one place or another hoping for some relaxation and distance from typical life. An escape from reality.

This year, it is no different than other years. We are still planning a week away, the four of us off on new adventures. But there was something that happened which made it a bit different. I found a vacation deal which was *almost* too good to pass up.

Typically, with just a week vacation, we stay close to home. Germany has been a regular stop, Luxembourg, and Holland. Belgium is also entirely possible, of course. We save the big places, the further distances, for summer when the weather is certain and the time longer. We have as yet never been to France on vacation, but it's also just a stone throw away. This year, however, I discovered a trip to Italy. A quick flight from the airport nearby our home. A rental car and little house on the Gardameer lake. All under 500 euro for all 4 of us. Which is considerably more than we usually spend for our week away, but considering it's Italy and flying, it was a totally doable vacation.

Erwin and I discussed it, and both of us were ready to book our vacation. Then, I got this niggling feeling in the back of my head which wouldn't go away, and I started looking for vacations closer to home. Last night, I spoke with Erwin about all the reasons I hadn't yet booked the Italy trip.

Kaeden. Kaeden, Kaeden, and more Kaeden. Our son is just too temperamental. From minute to minute we can never be sure how he reacts to a situation. Traveling he is almost always a star. He is helpful and organised and on his best behavior. He loves going on vacation and exploring and adventure. That may not sound very √°utistic', but for him, it is what it is. Our autistic son loves new experiences.

However, the house I found in Italy which we could afford to make the trip was a one bedroom place. We always book 3 bedroom homes to give us all space to escape, no matter that the cost is higher. Kaeden needs his own space to escape, and we need it as well. If something goes awry, we need a time-out place. One bedroom would not allow us this luxury, this absolute need. And, as I searched further for a larger home, I realized that in Italy, you get what you pay for, and something bigger was not within budget.

A rental car. Yes, we would need a rental car if we were planning to fly and still go off exploring. This is ssuch a simple thing for travellers, renting a vehicle and taking off. But when you have a person with you, for whom riding in a car is his most difficult exercise anywhere, anytime, and often has major bouts of tantrums in a vehicle, a rental car becomes expensive. What if he broke a window hitting it? What if he rippe doff a seat? What if he tore holes in the fabric? What if he caused an accident, god forbid, as he threw himself over the seats? These may all be what if's, and certainly not expected, but all experiences we have shared with him which make us worry when renting a vehicle. The costs we could endure in damages makes us think twice. Especially after our trip to America at Christmas still fresh on our minds when the ride in the rental car became a complete disaster, nearly causing an accident.

Flying. Kaeden loves to fly and is extremely well prepared to do so. He has done much more flying than the typical child his age, and knows all the ins and outs of airports, airplanes, and baggage. However, we don't 'normally' fly on our week long trips. This change in itself could cause him enough stress to throw him out of sync. It's these little things for which he is unprepared that cause him the most fear and impatience and moodiness. He is used to driving to a vacation house and searching out his bedroom and looking where all the dishes are and the pots and pans, and exploring the area around the house. But we don't fly to get there. Would that be enough to send him over the edge?

So, with a too small house, the possible extra costs involved in damages, and the unexpected transportation, I could see in my mind all the scenarios why this trip to Italy may not be a good decision. As much as *I* wanted to go, I also knew that I didn't want to deal with extra fights, extra stress, and extra worries in a time we are suppoosed to enjoy each other and our break from life. The trip to Italy was something I wasn't prepared to do.

This decision has left me feeling a bit sad. Not becuase i am missing out, but because life with autism is so difficult. Simple decisions become a process. Fun things create stress situations which in turn create major tantrums. We are limited in what we can do, yet we don't let the limitations get the best of us. We force Kaeden to deal with them. Are we fair to him in doing so? I think, yes, he must learn to deal with thse situations in order to be prepared for life. I, however, and unwilling to take a good vacation and ruin it in my selfish desire for just a little *more*. I'll be looking for a vacation closer to home, a little vacation house with 3 bedrooms and a quick trip there, and save my Italy dreams for the summer, when time is on our side. And the experiences can extend when Kaeden is visiting family or happy with his friends at school on camp, and we can make that rest and relaxation really meaningful without the stress it causes for our son and our family.

And we'll go away for our week at Easter, and we'll have fun and enjoy each other and explore new areas and have advetures together as a family...and it will be the perfect family vacation. The other perfect vacation can wait for the perfect time, without the undue stress, without it being our ~entire~ family.


Breigh said...

Sounds like a great deal for that holiday but you are probably right in finding something more manageable.
Maybe this is the time to go to France!

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

It's so difficult to have to sacrifice what we want to do for the sake of our children with autism. But you exhibited such grace and wisdom in doing so, and I truly admire you for that.

Teena said...

I know how you feel. My son is 10 with Asperger's. We do the best we can for our children. Thank you for sharing.