How Travel Advances My Children with Autism

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How Travel Advances My Child with

My Children with Autism Advance Through Travel

We took the family (all eleven of us–two with Autism) out to lunch overlooking Lake Chapala. While we were waiting for our meal, a therapist visiting from the US who works with Autistic children came over to our table.

She said, ”I’m sorry to bother you, but I have to say you are doing something right with your children. I can’t stop watching how happy your children are and how well-behaved your son is.”

As an experienced educator and therapist for children with Autism, she had particularly picked up on Joshua’s autism immediately.

We invited her to eat at our table, and she did. I love those unexpected doors that travel opens. We enjoyed great conversation and encouragement.

She talked about her disgust, after thirty years of teaching, sharing how the school system fails children with autism. Teachers are not equipped to handle meltdowns and take them as given. Rigid routines are accommodated and encouraged.

She oohed and aahed at all the little gains that others take for granted. Our children feed themselves (with one hand), use a napkin, keep it in their laps, help each other and thank the servers. She wanted answers. I shared with her our thoughts on how travel therapy opens doors for children with autism.

Travel therapy has been the key to continued advancements for our children with profound special needs.

How Travel Advances My Child with Autism

Our guest is signing ”thank you” to our daughter Julia who has autism.

Travel Culture

There are at least three aspects of the traveling culture that positively affect our children with special needs.

The traveling culture affirms and celebrates. That is, it tends to bring out exuberance, both in those serving and those being served. As a result, our children learn to approach life positively. Smiles are contagious. Although we do not see ourselves as full-time vacationers, we we do live a travel lifestyle. We are often in areas that are used to welcoming tourists, and in those spots, no one is ever left out. Our children are showered with attention and praise.

The travel culture embraces and accepts. Some developing countries tend to have larger families and reject abortion as a means of eradicating the disabled population. Consequently, children with special needs are valued and expected to be a part of society.

As an example, we will always vividly remember when our son was born in Mexico and first diagnosed with Down syndrome. The pediatric specialist announced, ”Your son is perfect.” That runs in contrast to many of our friends who have had a baby born with special needs in the United States. Health providers often preface diagnoses with ”I’m so sorry…” and so on. A culture´s presuppositions expose themselves by the way common people react to those with special needs. Travel lets us raise our children in societies where they feel valued.

Jeriah Cutie

The travel culture stimulates. Travel offers constant variety for every sense. Especially for persons on the autistic spectrum, the world brings a rainbow of experiences to be enjoyed, not a rut of routines to be endured. It also forces a change of schedule that many autistic people internally resist. Travel  encourages our children to be more others-oriented and environmentally aware. We have seen our children thrive as a result.

How Travel Advances My Children with Autism

Do you have friends who are considering worldschooling and travel with their children gifted with autism? Please share this post with them. WE LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. Leave us a comment.
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Brent and Stacey-jean Inion
Brent and Stacey-jean Inion
Brent and Stacey-jean Inion, parents of nine (including four children adopted with special needs), 2014 National Geographic Travelers of the Year and the National Geographic Travelers People's Choice Travelers of the Year. They love to laugh, to read and to explore as a family. The secret to their marital bliss is an early morning cup of freshly brewed coffee before the children awake.

18 Comments

  1. Karen says:

    I could not agree more with this! We have seen it over and over with our now 15 year old ASD son. When meltdowns get frequent and the drudgery of our schedule is particularly apparent, we try to travel if we can…even just for a weekend. The change of focus and routine actually diffuses, or at least lessens, struggles probably 8 out of 10 times. (Yes, those other two times can be quite challenging!) He will even tell us now, “I think we need a trip.” I’m grateful that we’ve fostered a sense of adventure. Just wish we could afford to travel as much as we’d all like.

    • Stacey-jean Inion says:

      That is so wonderful that he can express hid desire to travel. I think there are a lot of children who wish they could be free from the prison of living over scheduled. Those meltdowns will happen on the road or at home. Might as well introduce of kids to the world. I have some articles on this site about how we afford travel. I will be adding more soon.

  2. Alyson says:

    Yes, I do.
    Shared with thanks.

  3. Elliott says:

    This is really great to read and inspiring. Nice to see them happy and things working out. Travel is great for everyone. I have always had an anxiety disorder, but I was able to become more social and less panicky because of travelling. Cheers.

    • Stacey-jean Inion says:

      Glad to hear it. Travel can bring a lot of peace and less stress. Glad to hear that you are thriving as well.

  4. what a wonderful article. I have friends with children who are autistic – at various points on the spectrum. For the most part they avoid travel at all costs – so I shall point them in your direction!

  5. Bethany Dickey says:

    Wow, this is amazing and you are such an inspiration! I think all of these things are benefits that travel provides for everyone, but they’d be incredibly helpful for children with autism.

  6. zof says:

    Your family is beautiful. I don’t have kids yet, but I know how school system works. I’m sure worldschooling makes your kids with special needs happier, more completed people with deeper understanding of themselves and others. Keep doing the awesome work.

  7. So interesting to hear of this approach is helping your children living with this condition. I’ve come across several people struggling with the conventional western wisdom of unbreakable routines and the difficulties of factoring that into family life. That this completely different approach is working for you and your whole family is so encouraging.

    • Stacey-jean Inion says:

      Thanks Toni and we are definitely not alone. Families who have been gifted with children who have autism are starting to jump ship and find freedom outside the bounds of classrooms.

  8. Will says:

    Very educational post. It does have a lot to do with attitude! Keep travelling and dont let anything stop you and your family!

  9. kami says:

    such an interesting post. And you’re doing an amazing thing traveling with your kids, no matter what obstacles appear! I’m really impressed!

  10. Valeria says:

    I’ve told you this before, I found your blog very inspiring. I’m not a mom but I’m sure being complimented on how well behaved your children are makes you proud. And they do look so happy!

  11. Very interesting article. I have seen a lot of parents suffer, not knowing how to approach this. Most of them I have come in contact with tend to be over protective and keep the child at home. I have sent this article to a couple of my friends and await their feedback. Thank you for sharing your approach with us.

  12. Claudia says:

    You are very brave and very strong. I love finding words of encouragement based on people’s experience.

  13. Nicole says:

    Sounds amazing! What resources would you recommend for helping autistic children learn self-control? Also, how do you afford to travel with your children? How do you make it work in practical terms? Thank you in advance! I’ll keep poking around on your site in the meantime. 🙂

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