There are defining moments in everyone’s life, moments that retrospectively change your course forever. The catalyst for my extensive travel happened when my older son was in third grade, trying to memorize the details and epochs of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. He was sitting in his room pensively but puzzled, trying to grasp the finer points of their art, societies, and customs. His failed attempts to learn the material were compounded by his recent diagnosis of multiple learning difficulties; while he was successful at mastering basic mathematical and verbal skills, he could not progress properly in social studies. Now he was in front of me, tears in his eyes, stressing over his test the next day. He stated meekly, “How can I memorize this, mom—do you have a mnemonic?” I looked at him and thought, “He needs to imagine these places; he needs to see, touch, smell, hear, and even taste these places. That’s the only way to make them real, that’s the only way to make him understand this material.” I remember smiling back at him, hugging him, and saying simply, “Don’t worry, from now on we’ll go wherever your history books take you!”
And we’ve been travelling all over the world ever since.
When we were younger, my husband and I had travelled the world extensively; however, after marriage, we thought those days were over, our time and money being used to keep a mortgage, a job, and to raise our kids (both special needs and not). Since they were little, we had frequently taken them on “day trips”: sojourns to local theme parks, museums, zoos, and aquariums, all within our Southern California radius. But, that was pretty much the extent of it. But now, suddenly I was thinking of taking them to far away foreign lands—out of my comfort zone—and accessing skills and resources I was not even sure I possessed.
During the early days of our extensive travels, resources for families alone were scarce; resources for special-needs children in families even more so. As such, I had to chart my own path, learning from the mistakes that had befallen each previous journey. After many trips I learned many “tricks of the trade”, gathering airline miles and hotel points to best budget our travels. Likewise, to suit my autistic child, I devised tips on what to ask and expect at all stages of the vacation (from flights to cruises to hotels to day trips). We learned how to prevent and quell public meltdowns, to survive staff errors and scheduling mishaps, and to still maintain an educational environment for our children.
After visiting over thirty states and sixty countries, in 2010 I decided to share my abundance of stories, tips, and information with others, and founded this website, Autistic Globetrotting. In this past year of its existence, the positive critiques and responses from both the travel and autistic communities have been incredible. Many readers have been inspired to take their own “plunge”, and start adventures with their own families, while many in the travel industry have become more aware of the needs of autistic travelers, offering their own help and expertise.
I hope my website will continue to be a source of encouragement to autistic travellers worldwide, and remain a platform for me to share experiences for everyone to enjoy.