I am going to make a suggestion and I want you to stay with me here. When you first hear it you may have a hard time holding yourself back from closing this browser. Trust me, I have good reason for the proposal I am about to make.
I want you to take your family on a cruise.
Families with autism and other disabilities both cognitive and physical should start saving and sign up for a week on a ship.
I know you're shaking your head. I know you are considering sending me an email detailing all the reasons that this would be absolutely impossible for you and your family. You might even remind me of how difficult plane travel and car travel have been. You might detail vacations, in the past, that have left you drained and with resolutions to never leave your front yard again. I know. I have been there. I will be there again.
Before I begin, it is imperative that you know that I have received absolutely NO remuneration, discounts, or perks to tell you about this news. I spent some time on the phone with some really progressive people discussing the following:
Royal Caribbean, the cruise line, is certifying its ENTIRE fleet of ships to be AUTISM-FRIENDLY!
Got it? They are not offering an autism-friendly cruise. They are making every single ship they own autism-friendly. So, instead of saying we are going on an autism-friendly cruise, YOU CAN SAY: "WE ARE GOING ON A CRUISE."
Do you see why that is important? Do you see why this means a lot to us?
Here are some details:
Royal Caribbean has been working closely with Autism on the Seas for seven years.
They are providing their staff with training and modules on autism awareness.
I don't mean to raise my voice, but it's been a long time coming.
There are pagers to take when you drop your child off at an activity, so you can go have a drink....I mean...exercise.
There is an toy-lending program with appropriate toys.
There are ability groups, rather than age groups.
There are social Stories.
Can you cope?
Do you see why this is so great? Instead of making accommodations to include us, they have simply decided to INCLUDE us. At school we call this approach Universal Design. I am so pleased that Royal Caribbean is taking these steps.
So, while you are cruising along enjoying sensory-friendly movie screenings and a GF/CF menu please think of me because I'm still saving.