Hello everyone, and welcome to our community of adventurers called TravelAble. We are a full-service travel consultancy with a mission to empower special needs families to take adventures.
What does that mean?
It means that in our lives as special needs parents, we tend to stick to the familiar. We tend to live for our schedules and routines because that’s what therapists say works. And when we invite a sense of adventure into our lives, magic things can happen.
Think about it for a minute… what if you challenged yourself and your child to do something outside of your routine? What would happen?
What if you encouraged your child and your family to have adventures and experiences that might be challenging to their skills and emotions? What does that look like?
This blog will be focused heavily on the tools, motivation, and support you need to invite adventure in your life. We will focus on topics that address the 5Ws and H of how to live adventurously:
- Our Story – We focus on who are we as families and what are our unique needs are
- Adventures – We review what adventures are inclusive and ready for your family
- Destinations – We explore where we should go and when we should go
- Research – We examine why adventure is important from a scientific perspective!
- Tips & Tricks – We chat about the tools to learn how to travel with our unique families
I am motivated to share this information with you because travel and adventure as been transformative to our family. Now, my story isn’t all roses and sunshine and instagram-worthy photos. I am sure there are those among us who struggle like we did with the anxiety of the unknown. I am sure there are those reading who think the stress of planning something or doing something that might fall flat because of the behavior or needs of our children makes it not worth planning or doing.
I am here to tell you, we have all been there or are there. And we can let it sideline us from life or we can let it keep us trying again. For about 5 years, we let Aidan’s needs us from living adventurously, from stepping out of the comfort of our routines. And when we finally gained the courage to get out, there were so. Many. Benefits.
So WHO are we? I am Sarah, a mother, a wife, and a special needs parent to Aidan, who is 10 and is challenged by autism, ADHD, SPD, anxiety, and a host of medical difficulties.
But we are also a foreign service family, and we travel the world for work. From the Middle East to Europe, South America, and everywhere in between, we love that we have opened our hearts and our eyes to the world and take the chance to adventure whenever we can.
Our adventure story starts with Aidan’s very first plane ride when he was 5 months old. Aidan was born 14 weeks prematurely while we were on diplomatic assignment to Amman, Jordan. Because of the lack of appropriate NICU care in Amman, Aidan was actually born in Jerusalem, Israel at Hadassah Hospital. It was tough to have such a fragile child in a place where we didn’t speak the language, but for 5 months, we went between the hospital and our apartment in service to Aidan and his health.
Aidan’s first flight was aboard an El Al commercial flight from Tel Aviv to New York, traveling in true style inside an incubator. There’s a lot of story to tell and I don’t necessarily want to get into the nitty gritty right now. Funny stories will be coming. Suffice it to say, this particular leg of our journey was kind of crazy and kind of epic. From racing down the highway at 100 miles an hour to make it to the tarmac on time, to realizing that I had to pump on the plane multiple times and share a pump with the doctor who was also still breast feeding her own baby, there were twists and turns that even I can’t fathom actually happened when I think back on it.
Now, I learned a ton on this flight. First, medical tourism is a real thing. When the doctor goes screaming to the cockpit that the electricity turned off to the incubator, the pilot actually comes back to check and make sure everything’s working!! Or when the airline has provided the oxygen, but the tanks run out mid-flight, they will radio to the ground to have extra tanks ready at landing. And this is all usual behavior for anyone traveling with medical needs. HOW COOL.
Second, I learned that I am much stronger than I think I am. This whole thing petrified me. And when I get scared, I shut down. I don’t want to move forward, I just want to go to sleep. Which I did for most of the flight. But when I needed to stand up for the safety of my baby, I did! And when someone needed to speak up, who was it that took charge and got it done? Me. And even though we also happened to be traveling with the senior class of a girl’s Yeshiva school from Brooklyn who were loud and brash and making fun of the situation as they passed to the restroom, I was able to muster up ALL THE SASS I could muster to not only give them the stink-eye, but yell at them a couple times to cut that shit out.
You would think a journey like this would keep us from traveling, but since you know the end of this story, you know that not to be true.
As I said earlier, Aidan’s medical story kept us from traveling at first. We were scared of how to deal with his medical and behavioral concerns in unfamiliar locations. But every time we did take a trip, we felt lighter. A huge weight would lift each time we left the stress of our home and adventured together as a family. My husband and I were able to reconnect on these trips, and Aidan gained confidence and flexibility.
When Aidan was 5, we moved to a new country. Many people thought it was sort of stupid to move a non-verbal, not toilet-trained, tube-fed, sensory averse, child to a new place, especially one where we would be living in a very loud and very bustling city. We felt it was a good time in Aidan’s life to make a move, and choosing London, where there wouldn’t be a language barrier would be best.
In the 6 months after entering a new country, Aidan went from virtually non-verbal to conversational. And with a British accent to boot.
He became toiled trained.
He started eating and within 2 years, he was able to wean fom his G-Tube and have the stoma permanently closed.
He made friends.
And this was all because we pushed him and challenged him by a new environment.
Our situation was a bit extreme, but every time Aidan says no to doing something out of the ordinary, and we push him to do it, he comes out better on the other side. He’s more confident. He’s more willing to tell his teachers or his friends good things about himself. He feels more like a kid.
So if you are ready to invite adventure into your life, how can you do it?
Join our private group of adventurers on Facebook, the Unique Family Adventure Club, if you’d like a warm and supportive community of people ready to help make your adventure dreams come true.
Or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me how I can help you get on the path to great adventures!