Have you ever had those moments when you’ve doubted yourself and your actions. Perhaps you’ve agreed to something or organised something and then on reflection thought that the decision you made was not such a wise one. Well I’m feeling like that at the moment because a few days ago I booked a short break away with my husband and children. I know, a mini holiday, an occasion that is supposed to evoke excitement and a feeling of looking forward to something. But for me I am filled with nervousness and doubt because I’m just not sure about it.
You see we haven’t been away for over three years now ever since my son became ill and confined to the house. And even before that, holidays were difficult and were becoming increasingly difficult too as my son became older and his behaviour more difficult to manage due to his increasing size and strength. So you see we are rather out of practice in going on holiday as a family and it worries me. It worries me because with a son whose ASD has become more obvious and an aspergers daughter whose difficulties are also becoming more pronounced I am worried we won’t cope.
On the other hand we have been given a wonderful opportunity by our local authority who recognised that my family needed help in accessing a break. As a result we were able to secure a small grant which we could use towards either a short break or day trips out for our son. We chose the short break option because we felt in desperate need to spend some time together, away from the stresses of domesticity, work and school. More importantly perhaps, choosing a break meant an opportunity to develop our son’s confidence in going further afield from home, something that has been challenging for him since becoming unwell with agoraphobia. So with our strategic caps on we told our son that he had a small amount of money in which to use towards a small break and where would he like to go?
His answer: London. Yes, LONDON.
I can’t believe it. My autistic son wants to go to London, one of the busiest mega cities on earth that is sure to challenge my son’s sensitive senses, that is sure to test my aspergers daughter’s senses and is sure to challenge me and my husband’s stress levels. But my son is adamant that he wants to go, motivated as he is by his ‘special interest’ of the military and his desire to visit the war museums. So enthused by my sons enthusiasm, we trawled the internet and with a big gulp of courage booked two nights in a London inn.
So there you have it. I’ve booked my family’s first break away for three years except that this break does not include my teenage daughter for she’ll be away with friends; another poignant step in our family development. Still this opportunity gives us a chance for me and my husband to concentrate on our younger children without teenage tantrums threatening the equilibrium. It means that we can concentrate on trying to create an autistic friendly experience in our great Capital.
And with that in mind we are busy scanning train and bus timetables, investigating museums, boat trips and bus excursions, looking for places with wifi access and making sure that mum has access to a decent coffee shop. It sounds exciting doesn’t it but for us this is more a case of necessity because we need to create a visual timetable to show our children what they will be doing and when. And it doesn’t stop there; we’re also building up a sensory survival kit and ensuring that the childrens’ electronic gadgets are charged up with a supply of batteries and memory cards. These are the things that have become essential in helping us to distract or relax our children which is so important in managing their behaviours.
And hopefully with this careful preparation we will create a positive experience for our children (and us) and return home with a feeling that we can go away again. I hope so, I really do.