I am in a really privileged position. Pre-adoption, I made it my mission to travel as much as possible and when I adopted I understood that this part of my life would end. But, surprise surprise, my six year-old came to me with a desire to travel and begging for a passport.
We started slowly the first year – the odd night in friends/ families houses, progressing to camping. After our adoption order came through I ordered a passport and then tentatively booked three days in Lanzarote. Before going I worked hard at practicing going through an airport, flying, landing, what it would be like in a different country. Looking at pics of the hotel, beach, etc. All good – we progressed to 2.5 weeks in Thailand. Again loads of prep and it was bliss – helped by loads of sensory regulation activities: massage, swimming and hammocks. Much the same process later that year on Granada. This was not as simple but, on reflection, we hadn’t done as much prep.
Then year two of travelling; this time a disastrous two weeks in the Canaries last summer. Why did we not do the planning and prepping? So this was followed by a weekend in Belfast in the October half term. We were staying with friends who sent a picture of her room, the park, etc – Smooth as butter!
This half term, February, we were in Cardiff. I booked train ticket, booked a room in a family run boutique hostel, planned the museums and did all my prep. Apologies for the long preamble but: We arrived at our accommodation and our triple family room had been changed to a quad bunk room. We were told we would have more room and my daughter was given a key card. So, I asked calmly if we could have the room we booked as I heard my amazing nine year-old take a ticket towards disregulation. I grabbed the bags and headed to the room where the chatter started and then the rocking, the anger, the nail biting….. I stuck a lolly in her mouth and went back downstairs.
I calmly explained that I was keen to have the room I booked, as my daughter had a hidden disability. She didn’t process things like we did and this change was extremely difficult for us, and may mean we would have to get a train back to London. I was told to call Agoda to see if I could get a refund! At this point I admit to becoming a little unregulated myself. I said I was very disappointed that I was not being offered what I had purchased and that it was unfair to a child who had a processing disorder. They informed me that I maybe should have booked a hotel that had standard rooms. A little bit of steam may have escaped through my ears. I explained I had booked a room and that room name had pictures on Agoda and their own website, so it wasn’t unrealistic for me to expect the room in the picture. I was then informed that if I had emailed them to say she was ill, they could have helped me. Arghhh!!! I couldn’t explain something someone may never understand!
Ten minutes later there was a knock at the door and we were offered a room swap. The surprise change triggered a process once again. After some time spent on a swing, sucking a thick milkshake through a straw, we had calmness. I then agreed to a well-known restaurant – the dreaded Golden Arches – and a film on Netflix, cuddled close together. What strikes me is:
- Will I be prepping and planning before every trip? You know what, it’s not the end of the world. I feel truly lucky to be able to travel at all!
- What should we do to educate those who know nothing about the impact of early childhood trauma or a hidden disability as I like to call it?
I don’t have an answer but, hey ho, tomorrow is another day…….