How an Autistic Female Survived Vacation


I am an Autistic Female.  For the average person, vacations aren’t usually events that must be “survived.” Not necessarily so when you’re on the autism spectrum. Last month my family and I went on a cruise and toured some of the Caribbean Islands. While I had an amazing time, it is safe to say the vacation was not complete without a meltdown. It was a new environment with routine changes that were just too much for me.

Each morning the ship’s daily agenda was left in our stateroom highlighting all the different activities taking place along with excursions available at each port of call. Keep in mind that each information packet was four pages!

It was on the second day on the beach in St. Thomas that I reached my breaking point and had an Autistic moment in the middle of the excursion. I hadn’t slept as well as I usually do when I’m in my own house or bed. I was cranky and it was sun showering all day. Before I knew it everything I felt came spewing out of my mouth like lava from a volcano. I went as far as telling my parents it was one of the worst vacations they ever planned and that I wanted to go home the minute I got on the ship. Of course as anyone in the Autism Community knows, with meltdowns come judgmental stares and sneers from neurotypicals (non-autistic individuals). Mom quickly grabbed me and our things and we left to wait by the tour van.

After my meltdown, mom went into action mode and together we came up with a structured plan that we stuck to the remainder of the trip. I would get up, eat breakfast with my family, and go to the pool or relax in the room while the others went on the excursions or did other activities. I felt more comfortable knowing I had a schedule to follow with only one event planned a day. I was able to enjoy the rest of my time away without any further issues.

No matter how much or how many times my mom and sister prepare me for changes in my routine or environment I am never able to transition smoothly. It always takes me a few days to fully adjust to my new situation. No interventional therapy can change the fact that I’m autistic. I can’t always expect my reactions to change but, as I grow I can better learn the warning signs indicating I need to take a few steps back and have some time to myself. This is true on a daily basis, but even more so on a vacation or any event outside the usual day-to-day.


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About Erica Leung

In my life I have been able to accomplish great things despite the obstacles I have overcome. When I was 17 years old I was first diagnosed with Autism. I share my life challenges and triumphs by blogging. Follow me A Girls Life on the Autism Spectrum. I promise to make you laugh more than cry!

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