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.
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.
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.
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.