It’s Vacation Time | by Sherry Amaral-Lopez

In making plans for summer, I was thinking about how to include my 18 year old twins more in the planning process.  I use visuals to help them make a choice as to where they would like to go and what they would like to do. I went online with them and we looked at different options. They both enjoy the beach and pools so we focused on some possibilities around that. We looked at different locations on the Cape, and New England. I think it is important to use these types of visuals to not only help in developing a summer vacation plan, but it also helps them to understand what to expect on vacation.

Strangely enough this time they both picked the same place, the Cape.  In the past, they have chosen different places which can make it more challenging to plan. We typically will pick one place for the beginning of the summer for a few days and then do few days at my other son’s choice at the end of the summer. I find breaking up the vacation helps fill in school vacation time as well as giving my family two mini vacations instead of one.  Sometimes a week or even two is too long for our kids.

This year will be a first as the both picked the same place so the plan will be to go for a week. Because my sons are on a special diet I will look for a place that has at least a kitchenette. This makes it easier to keep their diet consistent as there typically won’t be a lot of menu options at restaurants. Usually depending on where we go, I will do research online to see what restaurants are nearby and what possible menu options I can find. I make meals and freeze ahead as much as possible so that I can also get a break from cooking while on vacation.

I typically will make reservations mid –week as you will get better deals and most places are less crowded. Another good option for a summer vacation is to go either at the beginning or the end of the summer. I have found it not only easier to find room options.

Since they have now picked where we will be going, I have showed them online the hotel where we will be staying. In the past, I have found it extremely helpful to actually show them the space where we will be staying, the actual rooms and the environment.  In my planning process, I have looked at area attractions to see what would be fun to do with my sons. I showed them online and they have chosen a few options…I then will plug these items into a calendar to help them understand the timeline of when we are going away. Each child is different on how best to use visual supports. For one of my sons, having this available to him before our trip, helps decrease his anxiety around the change in his routine. The opposite is true for his twin, if he sees the calendar too soon; he gets even more anxious about the upcoming change in his routine.

I also like to bring the comforts of home to help them feel more comfortable on vacation. I will bring favorite blankets, pillows; DVD’s to watch as well sensory items. I always look on the website, to see what the rating is for the hotel before booking with them.  I find that planning ahead and using visuals to help my sons understand what we will be doing helps make for a more enjoyable vacation experience.


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