Nothing is ever simple around here. Life is crazy, but it all somehow works.
Bill and I met early in our freshman year of college and got married a couple of weeks after graduation. At the time, we both had careers in IT – I was a web applications developer, he was a systems administrator. That was ten years, four kids, and a major career shift ago.
In 2010, when Return to Disney began, I was a freelance author and homeschooling parent. We had been homeschooling our boys for three years at that point. We had originally decided to homeschool for a year, to give our oldest son a chance to grow before returning to the classroom, but by the end of that year we realized, “this works.” It might not have been easy, but it was a whole lot easier than the constant phone calls from the school to come down and handle yet another crisis.
That year, two of our boys were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (I guess that explains why neither of them was able to cope with the social pressure, noise, etc. in the classroom). Our family took off on yet another whirlwind of discovery, learning, and experimenting to find new strategies to cope with life.
We took our first trip to Walt Disney World three months after the diagnosis, because we knew that our family needed to get away. Our kids needed to just be kids for a little while. Our whole family had come through so much, we needed some magic, some innocence, before we launched back into school and work and life.
That trip was everything we expected it to be and more. It was an oasis for us, a necessary retreat from the tough realities of life. That’s why we couldn’t wait to go back.
We finally made our Return to Disney trip in early 2014! It was a whirlwind week, and we left even more determined to go back again – there was so much that we wanted to do and didn’t have time for. Next time!
Four years later, Return to Disney has grown into a place where parents can find encouragement and practical ideas for travel with big, special families. I’ve always loved to travel, and when life is crazy and chaotic and downright hard, those are the times we need a vacation the most. It breaks my heart to hear people say things like “my child has autism – we could never go to Walt Disney World” or “I have severe food allergies – I could never travel.”
I won’t lie to you – traveling with four kids isn’t simple. Add in an alphabet soup of diagnoses and a handful of food allergies, and taking a vacation can start to seem about as relaxing as walking through a minefield. But you can do it! (Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can!) Vacations aren’t out of reach, something other people get to do, just because our families are a little more special than most.
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