Autism Doesn’t Take a Vacation

We took the Roc down south to visit the in-laws for a week.  We mistakenly called it a “vacation” and Autism doesn’t take a vacation, actually, Autism doesn’t like to go on vacation.  The problem is that the Roc DOES like to travel, but as I’ve already mentioned, his Autism doesn’t.  I may be making it sound like it was a terrible time, and it wasn’t, we did have fun, and it was so wonderful to see GC’s family, and man did we eat well!  We just had a few more “moments” (read: tantrumish, guttural screaming, arm-swinging, whiny, wanna rip my hair out, lots of tears episodes) than we do at home and it’s so hard to deal with them away from home.  It’s also hard to deal in front of family we only see 2 times a year.  I know they love the Roc and it’s not that I’m embarrassed, it’s that I wish they could see him at his best, not his worst, because they only see him 2 times a year, and he really is a marvelous kid.

The Roc likes things to be routine and he needs to be warned when things change and that was my first mistake.  I should have prepared him better, what was I thinking?  I knew that!  I guess I got that word vacation in my head and forgot about the reality of my life, there is no such thing as vacation.  I did talk to him about where we were going and who we were going to see and about the ocean (he was terribly afraid this summer).  But I didn’t talk enough about the house, the amount of people, the amount of space, the change in his routine, his cousins, how to share, how to ask if they wanted to play, how it might be loud when football was on the TV, the unexpected loud noises, that we may leave him with his Nonna and Nonno so we could go out alone….and many other changes to his normal life.  All these things threw him off and suddenly everything turned into a big deal for the Roc.  I know that he is not alone in this “Big Deal” phenomenon and there are many other children like him, but man I wish that it would go away sometimes, it’s so frustrating!  And he is so loud about it!

Our second mistake, and it was a big one, was to let the Roc stay up three hours later than normal on New Year’s Eve…seriously, WHAT were we thinking?  The Roc needs his sleep and usually goes to bed around 7-7:30 pm and we let him stay up until 10 pm and I skipped part of his bedtime routine.  Mistake.  Big mistake.  I think that set the tone for the next couple days.  He was O. F. F and there wasn’t anything I could do about it but kick myself for changing his routine while on “vacation.”  I wasn’t even drinking, but I should have been!  The Roc was miserable on the 1st and so was I.  He threw some pretty awesome tantrums and we both cried.  There was much of the same on the 2nd and again we both spent some time crying.  Not what a “vacation” is supposed to be like!

We did have fun though, and we did a few things we don’t normally do when we visit South Carolina because we usually go in the summer.  We went to Brookgreen Gardens one day and made good on our promise to see some fountains, one of the Roc’s favorite things.  You can tell that he’s smiling by the big apples on his cheeks!  The kid loves water!



He even got to get up close to an alligator,


and we saw a fox sleeping in a tree.  How strange.


There were some cows who mooed for us – man, they are loud!


And we saw one of my favorite birds on the planet.  An owl.


We also went to the Aquarium at Broadway at the Beach one afternoon and the Roc really loved that!  More water.



He really loved the tunnel that went underwater and we went through it three times.


I finally got him to stand on the moving walkway the third time through.  I think GC’s favorite were the eels as I found about 6 pictures of them on the camera when we got home!


The thing the Roc was the most excited about was the ocean, which was a big change from how he felt about it in August.  He still didn’t want to go anywhere near it but he really enjoyed walking on the beach and collecting shells, as long as he wasn’t too close to the waves.



So we made sure to go back before we left even though the weather wasn’t as nice at the end of our trip.





We are home now and the Roc is happy to be back.  He hasn’t fussed, screamed, or whined at all since we’ve been home.  It will be nice to get back to our regular routine.  I need my sanity back.  I’m so glad we went to see everyone, and we had fun, I just wish they could see him now–when he’s so happy and himself.   He was so excited to get on the school bus and I’m excited to have a little time to myself again.  I couldn’t button the top button on my jeans this morning so I wore a long shirt and my longest jacket down to the bus stop so I wouldn’t offend the bus driver.  I’m off to run on my treadmill now.  Gotta work off all the amazing food I stuffed down over the last week.  I’m not making any new year’s resolutions other than I intend to fit back into my jeans before we go to Arizona in Feb!

5 thoughts on “Autism Doesn’t Take a Vacation

  1. The changes are hard. We didn’t even travel this holiday season, but there were so many extra people around … and all the gift opening (very stressful for Foster). He had TWO major meltdowns at my inlaw’s house over the holidays. It was all too much for him. It’s a wonder we ever leave the house!

    I am green with envy that you had some time at the beach. I am such an ocean girl.

  2. It’s tough to get out of the routine, isn’t it? After my son had a little bit of a hard time vacationing at the grandparents over Thanksgiving, I decided to lay low this Christmas and stay home. It can be hard. You don’t want to miss out, and you also at times like holidays and birthdays want to enjoy those memories like you would with a “typical” kid. I think our expectations are up during those times anyway, and then when the relatives are around, you really want them to see him at his best and for them to be so endeared to him. I can empathize with disappointment, but I’m so proud of you for going, and for enjoying all of the things you did. Treasure each good moment, because your son will.

  3. Vacations can be tough on these kids who like their routine. I’ve been putting off a visit to my grandmother, aunt and cousins because I just don’t want to DEAL with it, you know? Not only do I have Chee with her change resistance, but I have a TWO year old. She is challenging just because she’s TWO.

    My sister lives in SC and we love to visit down there. I’m sorry it wasn’t the greatest vacation, but as I wrote in my post today, this too shall pass! 🙂

  4. Sometimes it seems as though you need a vacation from your vacation when you get home, huh? As great as they can be, they can be so wearing. BUT your pictures are BEAUTIFUL and lovely and wonderful. You have some really good ones in there, and hopefully, just the good stuff will remain in your memory!

  5. First, you HAVE to put that first beach picture on the top of your blog header!!!! (If I wasn’t such a techo-wienie I’d tell you how, but you probably already know how.) It’s BEAUTIFUL (so are the others)!

    We all know how you felt on that trip. You enjoy yourself but still can’t totally relax, even when things are going well, because you are just waiting for the next meltdown. But what are we going to do? Gotta try. Gotta visit people and try to have fun even though you know that there will be hard times mixed in with the fun ones. That’s just how autism works. Its universal. Mess with their routine and you …and anyone within earshot…are going to pay!

    I feel like people never really see the true picture of my son. He is not himself at school or in public or even in the homes of close friends and family. He may be better in some places than others, but he’s not his true self anywhere but at home.

    And, he’s not his true self in front of anyone except his sister, dad and me. Even in OUR home, he is not himself if others are around. There is a bit of a guard up. He will be less verbal, won’t dance or sing or be his usual silly self.

    That bothers me so much. That no one but us will really know the true ‘C’.

    I am glad for all the memories you made on your trip. Do you think photos and social stories before the next trip may help?

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