Every day we live with the direct effects of autism. The challenges are great and require a constant devotion from each family member, with some days requiring more energy than others. Josh and Kate have blessed us with so many wonderful moments but has changed the way we are able to approach events that others are able to do on a regular basis. Autism affects us as a family mentally, physically, emotional and financially. We haven’t had true family vacation together. One where there are no worries. One where the kids can just be kids just like every other family. With All Joshua's Complex Medical issues and Kate's Chromosome disorder with spend most of our time in hospital. While other kids are playing with their peers my children are learning what PICC lines, Ports, Chemo, Death, Radiation, Stem Cell Transplants, G-Tubes, J-Tubes, NG Tubes, Scopes, PICU, NICU, IVIG, and many other words associated with their care or the care of the friends they have met while in hospital. At age 10 Joshua sang at his friends funeral. This isn't supposed to happen till we are older. Then they have to deal with the stigma surrounding what "Autism" is supposed to look like. While they continuously feel like they have to defend their feelings and sensory issues and what society barks out about what or who a person should be or act like. I believe that this family vacation will help bring us closer than we already are if that is even possible. But, most importantly I believe that Kate and Josh will be able to have fun and be kids ...and be just themselves!
Kate has severe Mesophonia and with the supports of Autism on the Seas staff I feel that for once we will have a successful experience for her. I get excited just thinking about the idea of her being able to finally participate.
Autism on the Seas is a non-profit company that allows families like ours to experience a vacation that at one time we would have imagined to be impossible. They arrange specific special needs accommodations with the cruise lines and they provide professionally qualified staff to assist us with expedited port check-in, meal assistance, pool time supervision, beach excursions, respite (time for [insert family member name with autism] to be well cared for while the rest of the family can do other things), and many other perks and assistance. Autism on the Seas also provides pre-cruise professional consultation and valuable resources, including connecting with other families for support.