Travel With Special Needs Kids Part II: To Infinity and Beyond
Hands down, it's easier to stay home. Without question, we'll be "fine" without ever stepping out the door into the wilderness, the next town, or another country. Travel - why bother at all? And why in the world risk taking a special needs kid through the hassle of travel? As a single parent of a two children and a special boy, it makes no logical sense to travel beyond our comfort zone. Then again, that's exactly why we choose to do it.
The safety of my home is where we nurture, thrive, and come together to lick our wounds when we go out to do battle in our lives. It is the place where our family can be vulnerable; show our ugly warts and all, yet still be accepted for who we are. We snuggle in each night and dream until the morning bursts forth to give us another chance at life. On the road, our routines are ruined, and our safety nets cut loose. However, a funny thing happens on our trips, we seem to find this strength that bonds us deeper, despite the fact we're hungry when the snacks are gone; the beds might be full of bugs, and the vomit bag is nowhere to be found when you need it.
My foundation shakes when I travel. I am inclined to get motion sick. I don't like paying for all the bad food that seems to be the only option when our blood sugar has dropped below sea level. And, I really like my own bed. Yet, I do it. I travel because it does all that and more. Travel opens up a channel to challenge myself. When routines rule, how do we know we've missed the boat? When I step on the soil of another country, or another terrain, I get to test my grit. This needs to be imparted to my children, including my special son. By pushing his boundaries, whether it is facing a long walk to the train or a challenging plane flight where we have to adhere to seatbelt rules, he gets to face his own inner boundaries and push himself.
As a result of all these trips we've taken, he's working on applying rules to the world "out there" to his inner core. And, I know he's grown. The progress has been slow, but it has moved forward. He claps with glee and excitement at the thought of going on a plane or train. He has managed very long car rides with less and less drama. That's pretty amazing for a child with multiple disabilities.
Each time we load up our suitcases and travel for a day or cross the country for long road trip, he gets to experience a new dimension that offers him the ability to practice his skills and learn new ones.
At the end of each day, even on our journeys, we come together, snuggle into our beds, and know that the safety of home exists within the chambers of our hearts, the willingness of our souls, and the amazing feats of our bodies to endure.
In the next three columns in this series, we'll talk about the nuts and bolts of traveling by planes, trains, and automobiles: to infinity and beyond!
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