Going on Holiday with an Autistic Three Year Old

The difference between going on holiday as a couple without kids vs with an autistic three year old

1: deciding when to go

Without kids

Go any time that you can match up your work schedules. Go for three weeks at least to be able to get over the twenty hour flight there (if you’re from Australia), see things, and have a week to relax in Fiji after.

With nonverbal autistic three year old

Match up all the schedules of your therapists and go away when they do. Also check with work so you don’t get fired so you can continue to afford said therapists. Go away for a max of four nights because you won’t make it for longer. You cross off all busy periods and school holidays because your kid will get overwhelmed immediately.

2: deciding where to go

Without kids

You can go ANYWHERE! I mean absolutely wherever you feel like. You can go trekking in East Timor. Backpacking through Europe. You can go to New York and see EVERY SINGLE MUSICAL! Or go to St Petersburg and see all the museums. The world is your oyster.

With nonverbal autistic three year old

You can go anywhere. Within a two hour drive. No planes allowed (you don’t want that heartache!). With a swing and playground within a five minute drive. Preferably a pool. Also it can’t be a popular destination because crowds are BAD! Or you can only go there for an hour at opening time. On a Tuesday. Plus a fully equipped kitchenette so you can cook them the only food they will eat.

3: packing

Without kids

Take swimmers, nice clothes for fancy restaurants, warm clothes for cool weather, comfy shoes for lots of walking. Camera. Lingerie! Make up

With (you get it)

Take nappies, swim nappies,and whatever you do don’t forget the IPAD!! Or charger! Or the lap top! And the melatonin and all other medication and the pram. Plus the only food they can eat that you can only buy from that store a ten minute drive away from your house. Plus some clothes for them. And your yoga pants and tshirts even though they make you look homeless.

Your typical day:

Without kids

You can do whatever you want. You can get up early, have a nice full breakfast, and wander around the old city all day. Or laze around the pool sipping cocktails. You can go dancing all night and sleep all day. You can see the ballet, go to the theatre, or try that new restaurant that has high ratings on trip advisor. Also you have sex – a lot.

With (you know who)

You wake up at 5:30 every day. Except when he wakes you for three hours at 2:00am. You make his breakfast yourself. Then you and your partner juggle your kid while you both attempt to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner while ignoring the stares because your kid doesn’t sit still EVER (despite the ever present iPad) and vocalizes loudly. You choose only restaurants that are ‘kid friendly’ and that have something on the menu your kid will eat. Which narrows it down to three. You take turns wolfing down your food while the other person takes kid for a run around outside and deals with tantrums.

You cannot take your eyes off the kid for a second or he WILL DIE! Your day revolves around what might be fun for the kid. A trip to the playground. Or a garden. Or a pool. Something involving spinning or bouncing. But no people. Definitely no other people. Also no comparing. You ignore the kids excited about the dinosaurs and the storybook garden, and focus on your kid who is aimlessly running backward and forwards and has no idea what a dinosaur is (but also having lots of fun!). You can only plan to go somewhere nice when NO ONE ELSE IS THERE. To achieve this you perform research and planning worthy of the FBI. With the proviso that you will go back to your hotel at a moments notice if the kid is just not feeling it. You NEVER use the kids club because there are only about five people in the COUNTRY that can look after your kid, even for a few hours. Then you all fall asleep at 8:30.

Coming back:

Without kids

You come back feeling refreshed but give yourself a couple of days to get over the jet lag. Then it’s back to work. You have seen so much that all the memories are mixed up in your head and you need to sort through the memories. But they are glorious. So many beautiful things in the world! You immediately get a map, randomly pick another place you haven’t been yet, and book it for next year.

With (nva 3 year old)

You come back feeling exhausted. Nauseous. And why is the world spinning? You need a rest. You need to go back to work!

If you’re lucky, you also have a head full of memories. Kid smiling at the gardens. Also kid giggling with you in the pool. Kid hugging you over and over while at the playground. Kid trying a new food, or walking next to you in the maze holding your hand. Final memory of kid being obsessed with the restaurants kitchen garden.Making his own memories.

You are going to come back to the exact same place next year and do exactly the same thing. Because it is so worth it!

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