Hello everyone! Summer vacations are right around the corner, so I want to use this opportunity to explain how vacations unfold for our family. Our planning for vacations is drastically different, given Anjali’s condition. Families with special needs children, such as mine, have many unique and odd experiences on a vacation. This post will cover some of ours.  

My family’s preparation and packing for vacations is different and much more extensive. We have to be mindful of Anjali’s special diet, hence often need a kitchen at our destination. For example, my sister was following a gluten-free diet a few years ago. This required us to pack food like rice and other non-gluten items for our trip.  Besides catering to Anjali’s diet, our packing contained many items to keep her engaged during long drives. One such item is a CD player, and a large collection of Barney CD’s, as well as many books for Anjali to read. These items are absolutely necessary to keep Anjali engaged during road trips, such as when we drove to Los Angeles to go to Disneyland. Perhaps the most important items we have to keep are items that cater to Anjali’s sensory needs. Examples of these include straws, stress balls, and crunchy snacks.These experiences are just a small glimpse into the extensive packing our family has to do, in order to keep Anjali comfortable during a vacation.

Another factor that plays a role in our vacations is how the limitations of Anjali restricts the limits of our family’s vacation as a whole. One example of this is when we traveled to Yosemite National Park. All of the specifics of our trip, including where we stayed and our agenda for each day, was designed in order to fit Anjali’s limits. We could not stay at a cabin in the valley, which sacrificed an easier commute to many viewpoints. The viewpoints themselves were only the ones that were accessible by road, as hiking was certainly not an option.

Some of you might be wondering why I have only covered the obstacles of our vacations? It is true that the required preparation and the limitations on our travels can be frustrating at times. There have also been times when we failed to meet her needs or did not consider her endurance during these trips. Those moments sometimes have led to Anjali responding with embarrassing public meltdowns. Despite all of this, I would like to finish by talking about the most important aspect of our vacations with Anjali. That would be the many wonderful memories we have created with her. Let me refer back to the road trip that required excessive packing. The first memory our family has from that trip is Anjali gazing out into the passing landscape of Highway 5, not the long hours of packing. At Yosemite National Park, we remember Anjali enjoying the sounds of the Yosemite river, not the long commute we had to enter the park each morning.

Many of these memories include instances when Anjali surprised us all with how much enjoyed the outdoors. Our trip to Lake Tahoe revealed how Anjali enjoyed playing in the snow. We were pleasantly surprised when Anjali insisted on treading through shallow waters at Zion National Park. This shows how many children like Anjali will forget their limitations, and simply enjoy the moment. Through these beautiful moments and surprises, Anjali taught us how we can stop worrying and enjoy the moment. Just like her. In conclusion, vacations with special needs children, like Anjali, require different preparations but still create the same wonderful memories.

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