We don't take big, expensive, family vacations. We do the opposite actually; we take Stay-cations.
Stay-cations: at home during your vacation instead of traveling to a pleasure destination. This can be caused by high gas prices, or just a shortage of money.
For us, it is multiple things. I am currently still off of work on Sick Leave; due to home life, and a variety of personal issues I have been experiencing. So, needless to say, money has not been flowing in as normal, Ryan is working as much as he can and doing side work with his father; so taking a big expensive vacation this year is not possible. So we switched it up.
We belong to Great Wolf Lodges email member club; 2 times a year they will offer nights at the hotel (which is located in Niagara Falls where we live) is over half off; so we book a few nights over the course of a few months for our stay-cations. I cannot express how much this hotel has been fantastic for our family, but here are a few reasons;
- we are welcomed with open arms, and accepted with our Autism life.
- More often than not, we are up-graded to a nicer room than we booked.
- When we explain certain issues that Owen or Ben may have, they don't act surprised - they are very understanding.
- we have been there so often, our children are very comfortable, it has become routine when we are there.
- our kids are confident in water.
- Owen's independence has thrived; he goes on the water slides all by himself - with little to no supervision.
- Owen swims under water now, eyes open.
- All 3 of the children now jump in the water; all have gained confidence.
This was the first time that when we went, all the children were big enough to go on the water slides, and enjoyed it. Owen has grown so much since we went last time (4 months ago!) that he now is tall enough to go on the water slides alone; and he does it. His confidence and independence has done nothing but grow; I am proud to say to the ordinary eye, you would have no idea he has Autism - what a long way he has come.
Not a lot can tire out my 6 year old boy; but The Great Wolf can; and did. After our night at the hotel, we stayed in the waterpark till noon, ate lunch, then played some games in the arcade. We had to leave shortly after, as Owen had IBI at Bethesda. His therapy time was 1-7pm (we arrived at 1:30pm) and were called at 5:30pm to go get Owen, has the poor kid was falling asleep at the table, he was exhausted - the Wolf won.
We have booked a night in November just after Maddie's 5th Birthday, and another night just before Christmas. I cannot fully express what going to this Hotel does for our kids; the tolerating of crowds, learning patience to wait in lines, independence to go on slides by themselves, the noise in the waterpark, sitting and listening to story time; I know a lot of friends of ours ho have children with ASD that fully agree; and if you get the chance I ask you to go.
We are *hoping* that this time next year we will be at Disney World in Florida for our first massive family
- Thanks Great Wolf for the continuous practice runs.