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  1. Default Summer travel with 2 autistic boys!

    HELP! Going on a road trip was so much more fun when I was kid-less, but now, life is a bit more complex! We recently drove out from Seattle to Illinois on our move to our new house and that was an adventure even considering all we did was drive, take breaks, stop at a hotel, and travel the direct route.

    We are hoping to visit friends/family in the Pacific NW next summer and this time, we would like to try to get on 66, possibly go to Disneyland if there is enough money, and then up north. The difficult point will be going with my by-then 6 year old and 4-1/2 year old boys who are considered to be moderate-to-severe on the autism spectrum, and I am wondering if anybody on the boards here has any ideas of any person or group who might possibly be of some sort of assistance. I have already learned that this is a no less than 2-adult trip, and the more, the merrier. Also, I have a friend who is fairly knowledgeable on the LA area; however, other than that, I am at a loss for ideas. Most of the research I have been doing on the autism boards are distinctly absent of long-range travel planning focusing more on the day-to-day issues.

    Additionally, I would like to take time to see sights where feasible and actually enjoy traveling in warmer weather (late October was too cold for me) and make this a memorable (in a good way) trip. My oldest seems to enjoy travel, the younger one is getting interested, and this seems like a good way to introduce them to road trips that can be fun. I would like to enjoy it too!

    So - I welcome all ideas and thanks to everyone in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Our Yin to Their Yang

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Quote Originally Posted by rjcmom
    Most of the research I have been doing on the autism boards are distinctly absent of long-range travel planning focusing more on the day-to-day issues.
    And here, while we can provide long range planning help, we'll be of precious little assistance in how to deal with your two sons. So hopefully the two will, together, give you what you need.

    First off, Route 66 does not exist anymore as an official US highway, having been decommissioned back in 1985. You'll still find little bits of the old roadway here and there, particularly through small towns, signed as 'Historic US 66', but more as a tourist attraction than as a working highway. The general alignment has been superceded by I-55/I-44/I-40 through St. Louis and Oklahoma City on the way to Los Angeles.

    Along any Interstate, there are plenty of places to stop and take a break without having to get too far off the road. Even if your boys enjoy being in the car, I'm sure they'd enjoy the odd chance to run around each day as well. Besides those smaller venue stops, major attractions on the way to Los Angeles would be the Mississippi River and Gateway Arch in St. Louis which also has a great FREE zoo, Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo, the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon in Arizona along with one of the best and longest remaining segments of old Route 66, and Mojave National Preserve.

    Similarly, there is a ton to do on the drive north from Los Angeles to Seattle from Big Sur with all its beauty and free range sea life on the beaches, to the giant sequoias and redwoods of the northern California coast, to Crater Lake, the mouth of the Columbia River and the Olympic Peninsula. And on the drive home, highlights would include northern Idaho, Yellowstone National Park, the Little Bighorn, Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, and much more. I hope that gets you started.

    By the way, how much time do you have for your trip?


  3. #3

    Default Car Games for your boys...

    I'm no expert on children with autism, I just finished up a class on ASD, and I also work with developmentally disabled children. A few ideas when I take them on little outings, I notice that they really enjoy music, and when I act silly or get into the music, they giggle and have a lot of fun. With that said, if your boys enjoy movies or specifically Disney movies, finding Disney songs and making a cd for them to listen to is always a good idea, and it could also spark up excitement for Disneyland!

    From what I've learned, Stimulation can be very overwhelming for someone with ASD, so perhaps looking into scenic places to stop for your boys to see would be fun for them. Again, just small suggestions! When I was little, my mom used to play 'I-Spy' with me and my little sister in the car, and she'd ask us to find things outside the car.

    I hope these suggestions are of some help to you! Best of luck on your trip!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Albuquerque, New Mexico


    Last summer Kirby took her 9 year old son on a two month roadtrip across the US. You might find her roadtrip report and planning thread helpful.

  5. Default Thanks to you both!

    Glad I have found this web site!

    Yes, I am happy to be getting advice from any and all, as there are so many more aspects to consider when we go traveling now. I had thought about calling AAA and asking them for ideas as well, possibly also the chambers of commerce for the cities we plan to stay in. I have been up and down I-5 and 101 and even a little of 1, but without kids and the things that I did then would not be interesting to them now, I think. (Sleeping till noon at a cozy B&B, for example . . . )

    Anyways, I think you are right, AZBuck, that there are many sights to see on the way north - I think they would enjoy driving through the redwood tree and maybe even Seal Caves, for example. I am hoping we can get them up the Space Needle, but that may be a wee bit ambitious at this stage, we will see.

    As far as sights to see specifically, I think that once we plan a firm route, I can then start looking into particular options.

    The timeframe is a little flexible, I think, which I know really isn't telling you anything, so let me try again. Very roughly at this point, I think that we are looking to go out and back in June of next year. I expect that we will be actually driving about a minimum of 6-7 hours per day with tons of breaks added to the actual drive time. Our actual visit in the NW I don't expect to last much over a week, if that.

    When we came out, we were a little more pressed for time as the money was a bit tighter and we generally were on the road by 9 pm (apparently later than most at all of the places we stayed at), and usually got off the road for the night by no later than (excepting one night) 8 pm. I am trying to be a little more relaxed on this trip, but I do want to spend at least 6-7 hours actually driving per day on average. I don't have any idea how long this anticipated route of mine should take, but I am guessing about two weeks, give or take, depending, etc.

    We won't have enough money to stop for a day or two at every place we hit, except for Disneyland, if that works out, and I found too, that every hotel we stayed in (as good as we could afford) seemed to have mattresses made out of cast iron, and after the 5 days it took to get out here from Longview, WA, to Danville, IL, we were more than ready for a good nights' sleep. Part of my research is going to be inquiring about how hard a hotel's mattress is. I spent a year working for one, so I know that they don't all have the consistency of a cement brick. I found it really a challenge to keep up with the kids and drive when I hadn't slept well, let me tell you.

    On the way back, I expect we will go the direct route again to save money, but I know I saw a few things right off the roadway that we didn't have time or money to deal with that looked interesting. If possible, I would love to squeeze in Reno, as we got married there and I love the wide open spaces there and of course the flashing lights, but I can't think of much for the kids there, so maybe not.

    The summer looks to be fairly empty for us as far as other commitments, and the summer following may well be tied up with an increased workload and/or college for us, so I wanted to take advantage of that timespace this summer for our trip.

    aly_matt_817, I am impressed with your working knowledge of asd kiddos, you would be surprised at how many don't really know about all that jazz that should, imho. I can tell by the looks I get at the drs and hospital visits we have been to that autistic meltdowns are not a frequent occurrence, and the personnel there have stared more than most folks we met on our travels . . . but I think your ideas about cds and music is a good idea, they weren't really into it before, but the schools they go to here frequently play certain songs to go with certain activities and they have learned to acquire a taste for music now. Just a few rounds of 'wheels on the bus' is enough to get them giggly, which is great, but not too many verses or they will get bouncy (over stimulated, which they also get when tired) and want to try flipping switches and pushing buttons.

    Also, this time we are going to try two adults in a car and not just one (we had to drive two vehicles out)! That should help!

    The hard part is the oldest knows how to get out of his carseat/booster seat and we are doing our darndest to try to keep him belted, but that is an uphill battle at this point. At least he generally doesn't try to open the car door anymore. Thank goodness for child lockouts!

    What they really need are places to run and let off some steam, but since they both tend to bolt and have no sense of safety (the little one thinks if he catches a big car he will get to keep it), it is not easy doing that. We did discover several MickeyD playlands en route and of course they wanted to stop at every one they saw. I have to say I personally am overly aware of their menu options now . . . and thanks for sharing your memories of when you were little. My mother, only after I was born, was terrified of long distance travel so I very rarely went anywhere, and when my dad and I did (only child here), it was rather short as we had little money for trips. And we just talked, no games. Which is probably why I like them so much now, except for the asd part. Now my mom's mom, the only one on either side of my family who liked to travel, if she had a nickel, off she went and went and went.

    Sorry for the really long reply, but you both have inspired me. I will certainly read other posts for more inpiration.

  6. Default Thanks again!

    Thanks howard, I will look at that link tomorrow. I generally only get a chance to get online without the kids for an hour or two at night and its already past my bedtime. Thanx much.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    To help you with the math, if you want to drive 6 to 7 hours a day, figure your overnight stops at no more than 400 miles apart, less if you are not using Interstate highways or freeways.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    All I want to know is......

    Where does one go to nominate you for a hero citation?

    Lifey mother of five grandma of seven

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