Two years ago this fall my tribe got up in the wee hours of the morning, headed to Philadelphia, and boarded a plane for Orlando and Disney mecca. I honestly thought we’d planned for everything (I think I had a Plan Z). Our preparation ranged from my creation of a Disney social story for Justin, to having him run through a flight simulation that did everything but take off from the runway. I planned, and I planned, and I planned some more.
But I couldn’t plan for the stomach virus that got Justin on the plane (!) or the fact that every five feet in the Disney parks my firstborn would stop, grab me, and say “aha,” his version of the word “home.”
Unlike Disney, I am not magic.
We’re gearing up soon to go again, and I will share with you that this time, I’m hoping for more for Justin. I know some of you are probably reading this thinking how nice it must be that my major concern with my severely autistic tween is that he enjoys his vacation, and I get that. I know that many of you are wondering how you’ll get through your child’s self-injurious behavior, aggression, insomnia, inability to communicate, lack of appetite, too much appetite, and I could go on and on, hell, and on. Worrying about a vacation seems like a luxury that few of us can afford.
But I want you to know I’ve dwelled in all of these places too, sometimes for months, sometimes for years. There were times I thought we’d never get through them, but we did. Through many years of therapy, consistency, love, and just plain luck we finally made it to a place where I can perseverate on my son finding joy in our family vacation.
And it’s a beautiful place to be.
So in a few days we’ll board a plane with every electronic device and light-up/spinny toy we’re allowed, and hopefully we’ll settle in to that reasonably short flight and it will go off without a hitch. I’m hoping that “aha” won’t even be a part of Justin’s vocabulary because this time he’ll understand that we’re not relocating to Disney (oh but that sounds fun), that home will soon be within reach. I’m hoping that my boy shows the same excitement at Disney that he does for the rides at Great Adventure, that some of the magic of the place will rub off on him, that he will be able to keep his anxiety at bay and enjoy his time there.
I’m hoping his mother can do the same too.
So please wish us luck, and I will update you on how we did, plus share with you how successful my “Type A” plan to get on the most rides possible at Disney worked out.
I am always a girl with a plan.
And maybe this time that girl will find some magic there too.
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