Friday, March 4, 2016

Myrtle Beach Vacations

In my house growing up, vacations meant one thing and one thing only....Ocean City Maryland.  Now I don't mind going to OC for a weekend or something, but in general we don't care to vacation there.  Compared to other beaches farther to the south, we find OC to have colder water, it is generally more expensive, and generally more crowded. 

When Tyler was younger we did vacation there quite a few times.  But when your special needs child is much smaller, the situation is likely more manageable.  Everywhere we went Ty was either in a stroller or up on my shoulders where I could keep everything under control.  But as he got older and bigger we found he needed more space.  For beaches we tried North Myrtle Beach.

The downside of North Myrtle is the long drive.  From our home it is over 9 hours. Thankfully Tyler was always very good in the car, BUT rest stops were a whole other issue.  Personally, I barely want to be in a rest stop bathroom myself much less try to maneuver my autistic child in one.  Especially when Tyler had no concept of touching as few objects as humanly possible.  I remember one incident where Tyler discovered an automatic paper towel dispenser.  When you rip one off another automatically feeds down.  So he HAD to take the next one and use it, and the next, and the next.  I had to practically wrestle him out of the bathroom.  Some poor guy tried walking in as I was wrestling Tyler out, and this poor guy did a fast 180 and decided he must not need to go that bad after all.  Getting back in the car was always a relief because at least we were back in isolated control once again.

The upside to North Myrtle is they have oceanfront condos that are large, fully functional, and relatively inexpensive.  We rented condos that had bedrooms, a full kitchen, and even washer/dryer units.  This gave us many advantages.  First, the walk to the beach was literally just a few steps.  The condos we rented were also in areas where the buildings were fairly small, so the beaches were much less crowded than OC.  The water temps were always 80 degrees or more so we could go down to the beach in the evening and still splash around and play.  The condos were large enough that Tyler felt he was not confined.  With a full kitchen we would eat breakfast and lunch in the condo, and go out for an early dinner before the crowds came in.  We found that for us and Tyler, North Myrtle gave us more space and options on how to proceed with each activity.  And after all, space and options are two very important things when you are a caregiver. 

My advice is that when you are considering vacation options, be realistic about your expectations.  Ask yourself what the highest priority is, is it to relax, or see certain sites?  Once you have determined the main priority, use your strengths to at the very least accomplish that priority.  For us it was to relax and try to decompress.  This is a challenge because decompressing and having Tyler in an unfamiliar place is a contradiction in terms.  But by staying in a condo we created space to keep him calm, we limited the amount of meals that needed to be eaten in restaurants, and we allowed him to access half-empty beaches very easily.  These advantages allowed us to worry less and relax more.  I can honestly say that it even though these vacations were challenging, the memories are of happy experiences there. 

I believe if you are realistic and carefully choose a vacation that fits your strengths and weaknesses, you can create wonderful memories with you and your special person.

Be well and good luck.   Tom

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