Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vacations With Children Who Have Special Needs

Someone posted a link on one of my autism support boards about a family camp for kids with special needs. They'd heard great things about I opened the link because, who knows, maybe this is something we'll want to do one day?

As I read the descriptions of the new log cabins complete with full accessibility for those with special needs...and then I read that there was an airport nearby 'just in case a medical necessity required one to need to fly out for an emergency'...and then I saw the photos of the medically fragile children and the children with Downs happily being hoisted into the pools...and I cried.

I cried because I know the other half would never go for it. I cried because there's still this part of me that doesn't totally feel like we fit in with the families that can fully embrace these sorts of camps. I cried because I selfishly want to go on 'normal' family vacations without them having to be total safe zones for my child.

I have not yet blogged about it, but we took a very spontaneous and wonderful trip to Kauai two weeks ago. The kids were out of school and we were feeling the need for a getaway. Fortunately, the other half had been saving up Marriot reward points for years and we had enough for a free, five-night stay pretty much anywhere. When you live on the west coast, last-minute travel deals are definitely available to Hawaii. The other half booked our tickets at 6pm and we were in the air by 9 am the next morning!

The trip really was fabulous--well, except for our delay in getting home, but that's for another post. M did amazingly well on the long flights and was overall a champ on most of the trip. But there were those little letdowns that I tried very hard to not let overshadow a trip of mostly successes. For example, I really, really wanted to take the kids to a luau. I thought they'd really enjoy all of the dancing and drumming. We went to the most-amazing Hyatt resort and even had the chef prepare M a special, gluten-free plate. $250 spent and I had maybe five bites of a plate the other half had to prepare for me and one, weak mai tai. M just couldn't/wouldn't tolerate it. And this is not a child who has sensory sensitive issues. M LOVES music and drumming...usually. And even B got in on the action. We seem to have hit the terrible threes combined with his need to cause a bit of drama when his brother is doing the same. It was so thoroughly disappointing. I had to really force myself to not dwell on it once we left.

I realize just how whiny this all sounds and I also realize I need to focus on the great parts of the trip--chilling by the pool, playing in the sand, driving to Hanalei. But I can't help but wonder if we'll ever get to a place where our blood pressure remains low during an ENTIRE vacation. Is it possible? And if it is, does it have to be in a special setting? As I have said before, we are in such a transitional stage of our lives. Acceptance of our new normal comes only with time and practice, and unfortunately at different paces for each member of our family.
But we will get there. And we will find our purpose and our path in this world.

You all are helping me achieve that with your support. So thank you!


Anonymous said...

I get this way a lot....not sure I will ever reach full acceptance of the hand I have been dealt. From my interactions with other moms, they say it happens....i'm not so sure. I think it is ok to vent (it's not whining) when you ahev so much on your plate. You and your family stay in my prayers

Susan Senator said...

It's not selfish of you to want a "normal" family vacation. You have to do what you want; there are no rules! We always have tried "normal," rather than "special," even though at times it was excruciatingly hard. With enough planning and preparation, my autistic son was able to do it. I won't say it was perfect, but then again, what is?

Jenn said...

I get it.

Molly said...

I understand, because my son has special needs too. You know what cheers me up? Hearing the honest reports of my friends trying to take vacations with their typical kids. It's great because it gave me perspective - no parent ever has a 100% perfect vacation. If they said they did, they are lying ;).