Take your village with you on vacation.

bigstock-Hand-in-hand-19677104It takes a village. When we are raising special needs children, we probably need our particular village more than most. If we rely on that support at home, it will help to have some of it while on vacation. We’re not suggestion here that you take the whole village! But let’s look at some members that could accompany you. Here are a couple of possibilities.

Your Parents. They are, of course, your child’s grandparents and that makes them a good starting point when looking for somebody to vacation with you. The pluses are that they know and love your child. With luck they interact enough at home that they are a very real source of support. With further luck, they will pay their own way or even assist you with some part of your cost. One potential downside is that one spouse’s parents are, by definition, the other’s parents-in-law. There are a million mother-in-law jokes out there. If yours served as the inspiration for a half million, you need to look at some of the other suggestions below.

Other Family. As with grandparents, your child’s aunts and uncles may already be a significant part of your support network. Again, with luck, there’s a good chance that they will shoulder their part of the cost. That is a little less likely to apply with your nieces and nephews if they are school or college students but, if you can subsidize them a little, they may be a very real source of support. Additionally if they are students, their breaks will coincide with your child’s school breaks. If you are really, really lucky you have a relative who is a teacher. They need to vacation during school breaks just as you do and their expertise is dealing with children.

Getting Family There. Very few of us live in a physical village anymore and it is perfectly possible that your extended family live clear across the country from you. That doesn’t have to be a barrier. It just needs a little more planning when it comes to having everybody get to the same place at the same time. That isn’t difficult. Of course, we do this for clients all the time. One note of caution on this. You may strain some of your family relationships if you pick a destination that is a short non-stop flight for you but requires 3 connecting flights over many, many hours for your family! You’ll need to plan on a destination that makes sense for everybody.

The other thing that can be really great, if your family is dispersed like that, is that you get to enjoy a family reunion and have fun doing so.

Friends.  Your friends are, probably, local to you. Your children probably know their children. Traveling with friends can be enormous fun and you may get the chance to take turns with all of the children and, therefore, have turns of getting a break. There will be a difference between traveling with friends who have typically developing children and friends who also have children with special needs. Either case can still be wonderful. You just need to think a little in advance about the interactions. If you do wish to vacation with friends who live a long way away, just apply the same thinking as above.

Members of a local support group. Here, almost certainly, you’ll be traveling with others who face issues that are similar to yours. There are a couple of really great things about this. The first is acceptance. They know that if your child has a meltdown due to sensory overload that this is exactly what it is. They won’t be muttering about bad behavior because they’ve been there, they’ve done that and they have the tee-shirt!

The other really great thing about traveling with another family from a local support group is that it can help to tighten the bonds within the group. We actively encourage you to ask members of whichever groups where you belong, if they would consider vacationing with you.

So, in summary, who are your villagers and which ones will make for good traveling companions and good support?

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