Avoiding the Crowds.

Equestrian_lil girlChildren with ASD can have difficulties with crowded places. That can be anywhere from absolutely unbearable to manageable but with some discomfort. Many of the places that you might think of for vacationing with your spectrum child are crowded. Disneyworld comes immediately to mind but there are plenty of other examples.

Families with children on the spectrum have an additional problem. So much of our support at home is built around the school calendar that we can only think of taking a vacation when school is out. Guess what ? That’s when the most crowded places are at their busiest !

Going off-season is an option but one that needs a little thought. For most destinations, high season is the time at which they are most desirable and low season when they are least. For example, the Jersey Shore isn’t crowded in January and February but just how much fun will it be playing on the beach and swimming in the ocean at that time ?

Very fortunately, there is an exception and it works out well for families who want to vacation with ASD kids. Mountain resorts/ski destinations, are that exception. For them, high season is the winter. Duh ! That’s when they have the snow ! They are, however, still very desirable during the summer.

The weather is good and the humidity is low. There are lots of recreational activities available. These can include; horseback riding, cycling, trekking, boating, swimming – just to name a few. Calling it boating really doesn’t do it justice. Just within that term, you can incorporate sailing, kayaking, water skiing, paddle boarding and many others.

For our families, this abundance of choice is a particular blessing. It is likely that a spectrum child won’t like or cannot be successful at a number of them but, with so many choices available, it is also likely that they will find some where they can succeed and can really enjoy them.

This is all very well but what about specialized support and specialized instruction with these recreational activities ? Wouldn’t we want that too ? Here’ some really great news. There are programs out there that provide exactly that ! We’ll give some examples further on in this post.

These programs, in general, started out as winter sports based and dealing with mobility-challenged participants. Whatever their origins, they now serve clients with all sorts of different abilities and they have summer programs. For some programs, they tell us that people with autism represent their largest single group. If your child can get expert instruction with whichever activity, that will allow you to relax and enjoy whatever activity you choose.

Although we are speaking here mainly about summer programs, don’t forget the winter sports opportunities. Think about it. On its busiest day of the year, Grouse Mountain (Beaver Creek, CO) is considerably less crowded than Space Mountain (you know where) on its quietest day of the year.

Here’s something else that helps us. Most of these programs charge a fee that is well below their actual cost. The difference comes from donations and sponsors. This enables them to offer the most amazing value for money.

Let’s look at some examples (in alphabetic order):

Adaptive Sports Center, Crested Butte, CO.

ASC offer summer and winter programs. They work with a whole range of abilities. Tuition can be 1:1 for your spectrum child or in small groups (i.e. the whole family). Their staff can help you to figure out the right combination.

Getting there ? You can fly into Denver (DEN) or to Gunnison (GUC). The advantage to Denver is just the number of non-stop flights from so many points of origin. The downside is that, after the flight, you are still a 4-plus hour drive away. The advantage of Gunnison is that you are much closer to the destination. Here the downside is the limited number of non-stop flights.

Challenge Aspen, Aspen CO.

Challenge Aspen meets the needs of a variety of disabilities. However, they have a specialized Challenge Autism program. This is a day camp that they offer: 3 sessions, each a week-long, run during the summer (late June to mid-July). 2 sessions run in the winter (March). Instructors/volunteers have been specifically trained in assisting guests with ASD. They send social stories for participants in advance of arrival and use visual schedules.

Getting there ? Here your choices are Denver (DEN) with a 3-plus hour drive or Aspen (ASE).

National Ability Center, Park City, UT.

They have a series of day camps running from mid-June until the end of August, running from 9-4 each day. They offer instruction in most all of the activities that we mentioned above. Their largest category of guests has ASD.

Let’s give a quote from Tracy Meier, their Training and Education Manager:

“The Adventurers camp is an opportunity for children on the autism spectrum to experience summer camp in a safe, understanding environment that is positive and fun. Campers are supported and encouraged to try new activities in a step by step process that works for and with them. We believe that each child should have opportunity to build self-confidence and be provided with challenges that they can accomplish. Camp offers so many benefits for our participants and their families. Not only recreation and play, but a great avenue for socialization.

Our team truly enjoys working with each camper and having each child be successful. There is nothing better than seeing a smile on their face at the end of the week when they receive their award and their parents, siblings, and fellow campers cheer them on!”

Getting there ? There are lots of non-stop flights into Salt Lake City (SLC). Park City is about a 45-minute drive from there.

Vail/Beaver Creek Ski Schools, CO.

For the moment, they offer winter sports programs only but, we are told, they’re working on summer programs.

Flights can be to Denver (DEN) 2 hours away or to Vail/Eagle (EGE) which is minutes away.

 

So now you can give your child open space rather than heaving crowds. You can relax and know that they are safe and having fun.

This blog is never an advertising pitch. That said, do contact us and ask for help with arranging suitable flights, car rentals and accommodation. That, after all, is what we do.

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