Wednesday, 14 August 2013

2013 Holiday Edition: Traveling with a child who has special needs

The next guest poster is my wonderful friend Kerri of Undiagnosed, but okay where she writes beautifully about her life with her two girls Allie and Boo and her husband David - not to forget her crazy puppy. 

When we met in the big blogging world we found out very quickly that we share so many things, experiences, and feelings and really think alike ever so often. Kerri has the biggest heart and always sends me the most wonderful messages. She consoles me when I feel down and cheers for us when we have something to celebrate. I know that when I need her she will get back to me instantly (if she is not sleeping due to the time shift ;-) ). She has become a real friend and I am sure that only bloggers can understand that it is possible to become friends with someone they have never met. I am honoured and happy to feature her on my blog today. 


Traveling with a child who has special needs

When Joy first approached me to write a guest post for her vacation I struggled with what to write. Joy has such a personal blog, one that tells the daily life of a mom doing her best for her beautiful son, Sunny.

Then it hit me as I sit here with Boo on my lap. She is on a three-day weekend from school and by day 3 she is tired from not being in a structured environment. So while I cannot give you Joy’s perspective of her long-awaited trip I can guess at the emotions she is experiencing.
Traveling is tough. Traveling with children is an adventure in and of itself. But traveling with a child who has special needs? It is scary, overwhelming, sleep depriving and sometimes torture.  

Children who have special needs love their routine. Taking them out of their environment is difficult for them. The routine gives them balance and structure. A break from school sometimes causes a regression. They begin forgetting how to feed themselves, how to use their words. And it really is the parent’s fault. 

Because we are nowhere, near as strict as the professionals. Our little ones melt our resolve with their tears. 

When I was pregnant with Allie I received some great advice. That this child was being born into our lives, we were not being born into hers. And it worked. Allie traveled early and often. She slept wherever we put her, with whatever noise was going on.

Boo was more complex. In her case, we were born into her world. All of us. When we travel with Boo we know we will set off a GI issue. She will not sleep well, unless in my arms and even then it is sparingly. She will eat, but her brain is so tired from trying to keep up with the non-routine, she will need help. In restaurants she will sit on my lap as she is too big for a high chair yet not stable enough for a booster seat. She is not allowed to be out of her stroller/wheelchair often as she has the tendency to wander.

She will wear an ID tag pinned to her back so that if she does wander people know how to find us.  

I know when we come home I will have at least 5 nights of her crying herself to sleep. I know it will take a week to undo a weekend.

And with all of this terror, anxiety and planning I will tell you this….

It is all worth it.

One hundred and ten percent worth it to expose your child, special or typical, to traveling. Not to cocoon them in the routine. It is difficult, sure. But the rewards are endless. The first time they see a waterfall, the wonder when they see an aquarium. You will remember those moments more than you will the sleepless nights.

In Joy’s case she is traveling to friends. Ones who will love and accept Sunny for the glorious boy he is. She will share her boy with those who will adore learning about him. 

Her friends are very lucky indeed. 


Can I just say that I am very lucky to call Kerri my friend? xoxo Thank you so much for your wonderful post! 

Please make sure to hop over to her blog, it is worth your time!


  1. What a beautiful post by Kerri! My child is not special needs, and he has issues with breaking out of a routine, so I can only imagine those issues when they are compounded by other issues. I started bringing my son with me to stores, restaurants, etc. at 6 weeks old, vacation at 6 months old, and it was really beneficial, because now he knows how to act (and he actually enjoys going shopping) and he's learned things he wouldn't have learned at home. Also, that Boo and Cinderella photo? So cute! Enjoy your travels, Joy!

  2. Thank you very much for sharing your story, Kerri! Even though not special needs, Violet was never a good sleeper, and I know how it feels crying for your child and your own exhaustion. But I'm glad you are braving through everything and taking little Boo out and let her experience the world.

  3. Ok I'm not sure if I already commented and Joy hasn't had a chance to hit "approve" or whether I read this from my phone, assuming I'd remember to come back and comment....and forgot. Either way, I can SO relate to everything you said here, Kerri! The lack of sleep, the lack of routine, the lack of relaxation...all of it is so worth it. I'm a big believer, too, in that it's the different and memorable experiences that affect our special kids' development more. I couldn't get Tucker to realize what a circle was until I drew some on his arm. It clicked. I think traveling is the same way. Great post Kerri and Joy - I miss you and hope you're having the VERY BEST TIME ever!!!


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