When Joshua was around 8 months old we started going on family holidays to Butlin’s. Along with the usual ‘stresses’ of holidaying with a little human, we also have the added bonus of making sure that our holiday is autism friendly. (While Joshua has not been diagnosed, we’re pretty certain he has autism). He needs routine, home comforts, knowing what’s going on and what he’s doing. He doesn’t like people too much, crowds or moving around – which all holidays involve!
How We Got Him Prepared for A Holiday
Around 3-4 weeks beforehand, we started telling Joshua that we were going away on holiday soon. We got online and showed Joshua pictures of the resort, swimming pool, kids clubs, restaurants, fairground and even the bedrooms. Joshua gets very anxious when he goes anywhere new so we wanted him to be somewhat familiar with his surroundings when we arrived.
How We Got Him Through It
Once we arrived on resort, we parked the car and immediately walked him around everywhere to show him all the places he had seen pictures of. Joshua then got to see the areas he remembers and got his bearings as to where he was.
On holiday, your routine changes a lot but Joshua still needs some of the same routines implemented while on holiday, especially at bedtime. Establishing a new routine is really hard and it took him until 3 days before we were leaving to get settled.
His security is keeping routines or creating new ones (that he chooses) but his bedtime routine is non-negotiable. The new routine we all created that got him settled was he would hand over the card at meal times, we would walk in and sit at the same table and he would go up with one of us to get his breakfast first. As soon as we were finished with our food, we had to go into the arcade for a few moments and then move onto the Skyline Pavilion and then from there we could go to wherever we had planned.
We planned out each day’s activities the night before so that we could tell him each day what we were doing and when (or ask him what he would like to do).
The fun thing about planning ahead of time with a child who cannot budge in terms of plans? When we had an outdoor activity planned (such as the fairground) and it started to rain we couldn’t come away and do something else. Oh, the fun! (To be honest, it turned out perfect as it meant no queues for him!)
Admittedly, we took a lot less this year than previous years but Joshua would never cope going away and not having a few of his home comforts with him at all. As his bedtime routine cannot ever change, we can never go away without his pillow, CD player, two favourite books, fan and nightlight. We also took his tablet so he could watch his favourite TV shows and some of his favourite toys.
Why Butlin’s Is Perfect for Us
While there’s a lot of queuing, noisy crowds and lots of people, Butlin’s is so big that you can get away from all of that if there are times you need to (which was an everyday occurrence for us!). We find Butlin’s the perfect holiday for our family because the facilities and staff are amazing!
Despite Joshua being non-verbal around most people, all of the staff and Red Coats were perfect and kept interacting with him anyway. Joshua often enjoys people talking to him and will come away beaming that someone actually spoke to him. We were pleased that they always treated him the same, whereas a lot of people tend to just give up and walk away.
We always get nervous about noise levels outside our rooms at bedtime however we’ve never had a problem. Butlins tends to be very quiet around the rooms and apartments so we’ve never had the problem of Joshua being disturbed – which is brilliant!
It takes a lot of patience (and wine!) for us going on holiday but we also have tons of fun! Bring on October when we’re going back!