Three Reasons Holidays Are Difficult For Special Needs Families

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

Big decisions may be about whether to fly or go by car, whether to buy new clothes or dig out last summer's and hope they still fit, or whether the site has WiFi or not.

Holiday decisions for me and many others are quite different.

We have to think about access, proximity to hospitals, space for equipment, noise levels and flashing lights, changing facilities for older children and travel difficulties. 

These are just a few of the things that can make holidays difficult for special needs families. 

That is if you even get past these big three:

1. Cost

While cost is often a factor for many families it becomes more so for those affected by disability.

Many families affected by disability are forced to live off benefits and many parents are unable to work due to their caring role.

Combined with the huge jump in price for holidays during school holidays this can prohibit many special needs families even being able to think about a holiday.

Caravans suitable for wheelchairs cost much more to hire than standard ones. Hotel rooms with disabled access also seem to cost more.

The irony is that being disabled requires more money yet the income is often much less. It leaves so many families with no choice but to stay at home all summer.

2. Access

Muddy camps sites are of no use to anyone trying to push a heavy child or adult in a wheelchair.

Some caravan sites do not allow cars to park right next to a caravan, making access to the van very difficult for those with limited mobility.

Getting on and off flights takes lots of planning and so many places still do not have suitable changing facilities for the disabled.

Beach access is still a major issue as are many older high streets in seaside towns.

Theme parks may offer fast pass entry for the disabled but for safety reasons, some rides are not at all suitable for certain special needs children or adults.

Sadly many service stations on motorways still do not have good access for the disabled or changing places toilets. Simple things we all take for granted that can be a huge hindrance to a family affected by disability thinking of going on holiday.

3. Respite

Holidays are supposed to be a time of relaxation and unwinding.

For families with disabled children this will never happen - on holiday parents are still full time carers. Disabled children can rarely be left at a children's club on a holiday camp or left to play on a beach while mum sunbathes.

Dad cannot read a book while his little one plays in the park. People often forget that the care needs continue every single day on holiday and often more so than usual as unfamiliar settings and change can cause some conditions to worsen.

For families affected by autism the very thought of taking a child somewhere new can increase anxiety and make meltdowns worse.

Not having home comforts and being in the public eye can put so many families off leaving home.

Caring is a full time commitment. Having a special needs child can make summer very long and difficult for families. Sometimes health can change so quickly that the risk of leaving home can be frightening. 

While you plan your holiday this year spare a thought for the thousands of families with special needs children who for a number of reasons will be staying at home again this year.

Maybe one day they can look forward to a suitable holiday too.


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