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 David Rizzo offers advice for families traveling with children who have special needs.


Editor's note: Today, I am thrilled to share a guest post excerpted from the fantastic book Faith, Family, and Children with Special Needs by David Rizzo. David's book is a fantastic resource for any family blessed with a child with special needs - he offers not only tremendous inspiration, but also practical considerations for bringing the faith to life. Honestly, many of the solutions provided are terrific for any home, but David's experience as the parent of a daughter with autism spectrum disorder resonates greatly. As someone with a loved one on the autism spectrum, I found this book to be a blessing and am thrilled to share today's excerpt with our readers. Watch for another excerpt next week with more great information from David Rizzo. LMH

Take a Disability-Friendly Vacation


Faith, Family and Children with Special Needs by David Rizzo


One of the best ways to build strength and renew spirits is to take a relaxing vacation. Taking a child with a serious disability on the wrong type of vacation, however, can leave you feeling as though you need a vacation from your vacation. To avoid this, plan a disability-friendly vacation.

What do I mean exactly? That depends greatly on the individual child’s likes and dislikes, temperament, sensory needs, and so on. Nevertheless, disability-friendly vacations have some things in common.

First, choose a place where people expect and tolerate children—those with disabilities and those without. Go to a place where children are running up and down, making noise and enjoying themselves. Avoid places where children are scarce, where the ones you do find walk around in knickers and end every sentence with “ma’am” or “sir,” and where careless steps could result in breaking pricey, fragile items.

Next, the vacation spot should have a disability-friendly attitude or at the very least an awareness that people with disabilities are okay and that you don’t have to pick up your toddler when one walks by. A good sign is a mechanism that allows people with disabilities to go to the front of the line, thus avoiding the long waits that many would be unable to tolerate.

Also, the vacation spot should have built-in places where the family can take some time off, out of direct sunshine, to cool down and relax. There should be lots of restrooms too. Family restrooms are best.

Consider which places suit the sensory proclivities of your child. Does your child love to spin around or bounce? Or is she fearful of movement or loud noise? Plan accordingly.

Our family has a lot of fun at theme parks, the seashore, and the outdoors. Danielle really loves vestibular stimulation, so any place where she can get spun around, bounced up and down, or swim works for her (and for us!). When we come back from such places, we all feel rested, refreshed, renewed, and strengthened.

You can too!

Excerpt from Faith, Family, and Children with Special Needs by David Rizzo. Used with permission of Loyola Press.

Copyright 2012 David Rizzo