As mentioned in the last post, cost is a limiting factor to
travel. But travel is also limited by an
individual’s experience. Because autism
is a spectrum and we serve individuals from a wide range of socioeconomic
levels, the individuals we serve may come to us with extensive, international
travel experience or they may never have spent a night away from their parents
or flown on a plane. In order to
compensate for the different experiences, the individuals we serve bring into
their adult life, we offer several vacation-trips a year that require varying
levels of travel. One overnight vacation
trip opportunity is always in-state.
This allows individuals with limited travel experience the opportunity
to travel with us without having to master flying on an airplane. It also offers families who may be apprehensive
about travel an opportunity to allow their adult child to travel with the
knowledge that they are only a few hours away.
Our go-to spot previously was an indoor waterpark in northern Ohio in
the winter when everyone is ready for a little warmth. But with the addition of COVID in our lives,
we have opted for a late summer or fall trip to a state park with cabins in
southern Ohio. This trip has become a
favorite for both individuals who lack travel experience and those that may
have traveled extensively, but do not enjoy flying or lengthy travel time. We also encourage staff who may be interested
in traveling with us but have limited travel experience to start out with this
trip. Traveling with individuals with
neurological disorders presents certain challenges that staff may not have
experienced before. In addition to this
trip, we offer a longer more involved trip each year. These trips may be within the US or international. Prior to COVID, we offered opportunities to travel
to New Orleans, Myrtle Beach, Los Angeles, Walt Disney World, a central America
cruise and a cruise to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
A Mediterranean cruise was planned for the fall of 2020 but had to be
cancelled due to the pandemic. In order
to continue to offer travel opportunities during COVID, we have located a small
town in Florida with a rental house near the beach. This allows us to ensure that there are COVID-safe
activities as well as a clean place to stay and eat meals. With bonfires on the beach and boat rides
into the ocean, this has quickly become a favorite vacation for those we serve. All individuals who have not traveled with
Ability Matters previously should try an in-state trip prior to an out-of-state
trip in order for staff to assess their comfort level with the travel experience
and identify barriers to a successful trip.
Individuals who will fly for the first time on one of our trips should
ride a flight simulator and complete any other air travel preparation service offered
in their area. This can greatly reduce
anxiety on the day of their first flight.
While getting away from it all may be more complicated for individuals
with neurodevelopmental disabilities, we have seen the benefits and it is well
worth the effort.