Not making time for a family vacation is a real shame for any family. For a family with a child who has a disability or a special needs, the summer can seem like the time to schedule in any additional support or educational need the child may require. Of course, providing extra care and support, particularly around schooling, is a priority for such families. Nevertheless, going on a vacation is never wasted time for families with a special needs child.
Consider that vacations and trips away in general serve a wider education purpose in that they broaden horizons and experience. They also allow for some much needed relaxation for the parents and can be a bonding experience for the family as whole, bringing siblings and parents together in a new way. Taking time out away from the home may seem the harder option if you have a child with a severe disability or special needs, or both. However, given that the way the school year works is already fairly rigid, it is certainly possible to over-schedule the lives of our children. Sometimes, it is just right to allow the family a week or two without the usual pressures of daily life.
Being a parent means that you are responsible for the good care of your child. If your child has additional care needs then this can mean that your caring role is vastly increased. Some parents in this position find that the idea of taking their child on vacation with them is tougher than staying at home, where everything is set up to meet the care needs of the child. Of course, this very much depends on the nature of the special needs of the child.
When the level is too severe to contemplate vacationing together, consider respite care services that will give you a break from your caring responsibilities. This can be a difficult step for many parents to take as it can feel like a temporary abandonment. However, if it means that you come back refreshed to meet the ongoing challenges of one-to-one care it is certainly something to give serious thought to.
Family Vacation Experiences
As little as twenty years ago attitudes to people, even children, with disabilities and special needs left something to be desired. Nowadays many travel firms, tour operators and hotels are much more engaged with enabling access for families with additional needs. True, for some operators disabled access only means one thing – wheelchair access – but there are many more clued up firms out there, too.
Given that one of every ten children is born with a disability, it really makes business sense for those in the leisure industries to embrace families with special needs children in better and more innovative ways. Before committing any money to a vacation, ensure that the special needs of your family can be met in full.
Every family has different needs so this will take a little research. Find a specialist who can provide your family with a great and relaxing experience that all the members can enjoy. A good starting point, whether you are checking out a hotel website or a cruise operator, is to ensure that there is adequate information displayed about the services offered for disabled customers. Accessibility is one thing, but what about access to medical fridges for medication and arrangements for transfers?
Special Needs Specialists
There are some places which are not so much adapted for special needs vacations, but set up for them. The National Ability Center, for example, was founded in 1985 and aims to empower individuals of all abilities in programs that build self esteem and confidence.
Their year round schemes include activities such as Nordic skiing, archery and paddle boarding. They welcome people with physical disabilities, including visual impairment, but also those with cognitive and developmental disabilities. However, the programs are inclusive of all the family so the experience can be enjoyed together. Such centers are not the only specialist vacation providers to choose from. A good tip is to ask a local disability support group for advice.