In this article we are going to look at some holiday tips for carers of people with learning disabilities. any seem to think that they won’t ‘get as much out of it’, or that the disruption to routine will be distressing. While some people (of all neurotypes!) do find the kind of alterations to routine brought on by holidays distressing, others find holidays hugely enjoyable, and would be really missing out were they to be denied the opportunity to go on holiday simply because of their condition. Luckily, they don’t have to. There are plenty of companies which cater specifically to people with learning disabilities, and are well versed in making sure that people with these special needs have an absolutely fantastic time on holiday. Alternatively, if you yourself are caring for someone with learning disabilities, here are some hints on how to make their holiday experience as wonderful as possible:
Preparation Is Key When Dealing With People With Learning Disabilities
It’s always a good idea to prepare well for a holiday, but this is particularly the case when learning impairments enter the mix. Routines and structure can be very important to someone with special learning needs, and the removal of these for the comparative unknown of a holiday can cause anxiety and (consequently) distressing behaviour. If your charge has struggled with depression and suicidal behaviour in the past – sadly not uncommon for people with learning disorders – a holiday can work wonders on their state of mind, but only if they know what to expect and are not anxious about what is going on. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to assuage these anxieties by putting a holiday routine in place, and talking it through well in advance of the holiday itself. Depending on the nature of the disability, you may want to start implementing the new routine gradually, in advance of the holiday itself, so that it is familiar by the time the holiday comes around. Having a familiar, reliable structure to days will hopefully make all the unfamiliar things encountered on holiday exciting rather than anxiety-inducing.
Beware Sensory Overload
Some people with learning disabilities thrive on new, exciting experiences. Others find them nerve-wracking. Whatever the case with your loved one, it is important to be aware that sensory overload can make some learning disabled adults behave unpredictably. Many with learning disabilities also have sensory issues which make exposure to too many new sights, sounds, smells etc at once overwhelming.
Either the excitement may cause them to lose sight of what’s safe to do, or they may become anxious and upset. Either way, it’s a good idea to do your research when heading somewhere new. If somewhere is going to be particularly noisy or ‘busy’ in a sensory way, it is important to be aware of this in advance, and pack plenty of distractions to detract from the overload with you.
Make Your Address Clear
‘Wandering off’ is the nightmare of everyone who cares for someone with a learning disability. In an unfamiliar setting, learning disabled individuals may ‘wander off’ out of excitement, and then be unable to find their way back. Of course, it is important to keep tabs on them where possible – but accidents do happen, and there’s only so much you can do to keep another human being by your side! Should the worst occur, and your loved one disappears into a foreign milieu, you can increase the chances of their finding their way back by both repeating your holiday address to them until they are absolutely clear on it, and writing the address down on something they have on them.
Writing down details such as their name, your address, and your contact details on something like a wristband will help those who encounter your wandering loved one to get them back to you safely. It may also help to role-play a ‘getting lost’ scenario, so that your loved one is prepared to flag down a police person (or similarly appropriate individual), present their details, and get home safely.
Obviously, having someone with a learning disability to care for while you’re on holiday adds an extra element of anxiety to the mix. But there is absolutely no reason why you cannot all have a wonderful time. The happier you are, and the more obviously you are enjoying your holiday, the better a time your loved one will have. Every human picks up emotional cues from one another, and, if you are unhappy and anxious, it is likely that your loved ones will be, as well. This does not make for a great holiday! If you’re well enough prepared, there should be absolutely nothing to worry about. So relax, enjoy yourself, and be happy in the knowledge that you’re giving your learning disabled loved on a great time!
“This is an article sent in by Sally Dacre”