So early on, my husband and I decided that it was important to us that our kids know how traveling worked. With Mr. L’s diagnosis of autism we knew that understanding how traveling worked was even more important to us now.
We didn’t want to avoid the “hassle” or “stress” of traveling with a child with special needs and then down the road need to take an adult with special needs on a plane ride or long distance drive and have it be a first time experience.
Mr. Husband and I wanted airports, plane procedures, lines, security checkpoints, long car rides, and the occasional cruise ship or train experience to be a familiar situation to all 3 of our kiddos. And we decided that starting from day one when our beloved spawn was young- when tantrums, meltdowns, tears and screaming was more socially acceptable, was a safer time to start. Now did we want those things? Crying, tantrums, meltdowns, etc? Heavens no! I did everything within my power to prepare and avoid those unpleasant experiences.
However and unfortunately if society sees a grown adult doing those things- screaming, or possibly melting down, many strangers get scared and more then likely security or police get called. The news media has shown that just escalating the situation is the least of a parent’s problem in these scenarios. Police and security guards as a whole need SO MUCH de escalating and autism training, but that is for another post, for another day.
Is it fair that adults with special needs are treated like criminals? Absolutely NOT, but can I control everyone around my family all the time? Not one bit. So since the first days of diapers, strollers, pacifiers and diaper bags my husband and I have done our best to get our little family out past our city limits a couple times a year.
I can honestly tell you that all 3 of my kiddos have no problems in airports and can go through airport security better then many adults. They know the drill and it’s not a big deal to them- exciting? Yes of course, but scary or overwhelmingly confusing? Nah.
If you don’t know by now, we are Disney people. We love the parks, the movies and have been on a couple of cruises. It started before my husband and I even started dating, we went with a group of friends to Disneyland in college. But then when our oldest child was diagnosed with severe autism and we started looking at vacation reviews and amusement park special needs policies…. Disney stood out from most places and after a few visits we knew Disney was a safe place to vacation with our brood.
So is this post about a Disney vacation? Well, you may be shocked to hear this… But no. I’m actually here to tell you that we decided to try something new! Mr. Husband and I drove the kiddos to Washington DC and decided to attempt not only a non-Disney and non-visit-family vacation, but an “explore a city” vacation… Which was a big first for all of us.
I’m happy to return and report that it went exceptionally well. We visited a few monuments, the LDS DC temple open house, rode the metro, sat on many benches for Mr. L’s tired feet, explored a couple museums and took stock of the Library of Congress.
We tried local food, got mildly tangled in a woman’s right protest- where little Miss A happened to yell out of her stroller that she was mad, and a woman yelled an agreement that she was mad too 😅, the children got to dip their tired feet in the water at the WW2 monument, Little Miss A got free ice cream from an ice cream truck, and we managed to not get lost. All big wins.
The kids were leery of an extended weekend get away without rollercoasters, cousins, or swimming, but they ended up being pleasantly surprised, which made the whole experience that much better.
This was new for us, a mini vacation in a new town. I wasn’t able to put together a planner for Mr. L because our printer was down, and Mr. L forgot his sound canceling headphones on the first day (I had packed an extra pair, but those too were left back at the hotel). And yet none of these things held this kid back! He asked every day what and where we were going, but did so without anxiety. The metro and its connecting center was exciting enough that Mr. L didn’t worry about his headphones, and the library of Congress was quiet enough that he didn’t complain about noise.
A new milestone was met, another adventure was successfully added to our history, and I’m proud of my little family for trying new things.