We don’t travel. At all. Well, we haven’t traveled a lot in the past. It wasn’t because we didn’t want to, or we didn’t have enough money, or a destination in mind. It was fear. We feared going anywhere because of the kids and their challenges with new places, people, and things. Basically, they had issues with nouns (get it?). Seriously, most of the time we would go out it was a meltdown smorgasbord or sensory overload. We left every single place early and I pretty much cried at home in the bathroom thinking about all the judgmental stares and comments hurled our way.
Maybe I was a bad parent? Hell, I questioned everything when we dared to venture outside a five-mile radius of our home and it didn’t involve a doctor’s appointment or therapy. It was hard to go out as a family. It still is. Only difference between then and now, is my attitude. I decided months ago that it was time to travel. It was time to make memories and see the places I have always wanted to see and take the kids along for the ride (literally). How were they going to learn to live in the world if I never put them out there? Autism is a developmental disorder, marked by challenges with communication, social interaction, and obsessive interests and behaviors. They won’t overcome these challenges if they don’t face them, and I cannot hide in my house forever. I was losing my mind.
Beginning my last year of my Masters degree I told myself that not only was I going to go to graduation in Virginia, but that I was also going to make a mini vacation out of it. And I had about 10 months to help prepare my kids. Without making this one too long, I won’t go into the details of what all I did to help them out. It involved a lot of local outings, therapy sessions, working with them at home, etc.
In May was the our 2nd ever family vacation, and we decided to make Washington D.C. our destination. Overall, the kids did okay. There were some hiccups in the beginning but we adjusted well and we had a good time. Once we got back home, I decided that we were going to make traveling a priority. And we were going to hit every state in the process. So far, we’ve done Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, D.C. (technically not a state but it’s going to count), Maryland, Pennsylvania, and now New Mexico. States we drive through to get to others do not count. We have to actually visit specific areas for it to count. I dubbed our efforts “Four Hamms in a Ford” which takes our last name (Hammond) and our method of transportation (our super awesome Ford Taurus, lol). We will tackle flight later on down the road but for now, the kids tolerate driving.
I don’t know where the road will lead us next, I was thinking Colorado, but Hammy (the husband) wants to tackle Washington (the state). That is a little further so we would take a bit longer to plan for a trip there. Our goal was to hit a new state up every three months, with a series of weekends around Texas thrown in the mix. Washington might still be doable, so we shall see. I’m toying with the idea of nixing the traditional Christmas of toys, gifts, and large dinners and making the gift be a family vacation somewhere. I don’t know, still thinking on that one.
I will a provide a more detailed account of how our New Mexico trip went later on. I will share with you where we went, how much we spent (wasn’t a lot at all), and how the kids fared with the journey, and the destination.
Right now, I’m about to get dressed and murder some coffee so we can hit the road to Roswell.
Who knows? Maybe we will spot an Alien.