Ah, the thought of Spring Break.

When you are young, the mere mention of Spring Break simply makes you think of time off! Beaches! Relaxation.


Sounds nice right?

But for those who are not in that stage of the game anymore.

Spring Break can still mean a pretty nice vacation but not quite the same.

As parents, Spring Break can mean family fun.

But as parents and care givers for our special needs children, Spring Break can mean many other things. Like the need to plan ahead, pack well and talk/communicate well ahead of time.

At least in my opinion and okay! In my experience as well.

Can it be fun? Absolutely!!!
Did we have fun? Absolutely!!
Did it require work before we left! Absolutely!

I think back on the very first trip we took when Elizabeth, our daughter with special needs, was young and quite in the throes of her SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) anxiety. And how much we/I did to get ready for the trip. From figuring out the food to bring for the drive to the sleeping arrangements down to the night lights we needed to take.

I know that without the prep time, the stress of the actual trip would have been compounded many times over!

So I know, from experience, the importance of all the above planning and more.

But first things first,

Any change of schedule is a big thing to our kids, so the fact that their school schedule is changed for the break time is a big thing and takes getting adjusted to. Let alone adding the change related to an away vacation.

So now is a good time to start talking to them about this change coming up. Maybe show them a calendar to help them see when this is coming. I know for us this kind of preparation helps Elizabeth get herself better prepared for this upcoming change.

It is also a good time to start talking about the things you hope to do on their week off. I know that if we hoped to, say take a boat ride, it would be better to start talking about it early and give Elizabeth time plan for it than to take her there and say “surprise, we’re going on a boat trip”

So it is a good time to find pictures, websites and other things you can use to show your child what they will be doing and what to expect.

Does it make more work for us as the parents and caregivers? Yes but the work is worth it.

The work help everyone get the chance to relax more because you will have anticipated the big things and planned for the little.

You can start making a list of must haves: like their favorite food and snacks, night lights, favorite toys, fidgets and ways for them to self-regulate. This helps to make sure that nothing so precious to them gets left behind. Trust me a trip the local Walmart will not find some of the items Elizabeth needed back in the day!

I know that once Elizabeth had what she needed, that I could relax. Sorry to say but that is the truth. I can remember how nice it was to be sitting on the deck of our vacation spot, having some coffee and Elizabeth was happily near us listening to music, her music.

It is nice to know that hard work ahead of time, can make the relaxation we all need a true reality. Now let’s be honest. There is probably not ONE vacation had by anyone that was complete and utter peace. And that is the nature of a family vacation, hence the popular jokes and memes about family trips.

So realistic expectations make all the difference too!

I think that as the calendar nudges us closer to this break time, it is fun to know that we will have the time to be together and make memories, it is just some extra work ahead of time can make all the difference for our special needs children and hence everyone in the family.

Happy planning!

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes In Herself