Travel beyond

Morning routines involve getting up and ready to get in the car for school. Or in some cases to get the bus to school. Or in some cases to get public transport to school. Or in some cases school is at home. Yet what happens in those hours of the day when you aren’t in school or aren’t in a day program. What happens with your independence when being able to access public transport is challenging because of everyone else around you and their inability to be polite, to be aware of personal space or to refrain from staring at you. Do you go out? Do you stay home? Do you panic and worry about it all the time? Do you get a choice. As Occupational Therapists we can look at the planning involved and prepare but what if part of the issue is actually in the design of the public and private spaces. Think of theme parks and how crowded and busy they are. Everyone has saved up their money, their enthusiasm for such a long period to go (when you live in Australia it is that). Airports have lines to wait and wade through, people to walk around and to navigate their stares and their echos from all of the hard surfaces. Crowd management isn’t something that we teach. Its something that we navigate through. Are you used to walking by yourself through a busy shopping mall? What would happen to your skills when you needed to support a group of 5 additional people with you? Thats a group with 2 parents and 4 kids. What happens if that is a school group? How many carers do you need? What skills does each of those individuals have? Do you know how to walk together as a group along a corridor in a shopping centre, what happens if you are all walking next to each other (forming a line), do you block others from getting past you who are moving at different speeds or do the people you are with know and are aware of everyone around them? What control do you have over your body. What speed can you walk? How do you cope with the smells and music coming out of each shop that you pass. Cruise ships. Sailing boats. Catamarans. Ferries. Trains. Buses. Trams. Bicycles. Scooters. Taxis. Airplanes. Private transportation. Each of these has different benefits. Think of the toilet facilities within each of these. How small are they? Do they fit a carer inside as well. How do you physically balance the individual so that the carer can clean after toileting within small spaces. Some individuals smear their faeces. What impact does that have on families abilities and desires to access public places for long periods of time. Some individuals can take 30-60 minutes each time they sit on a toilet. Think what that would do with an airplane toilet. The anger of those around would be enormous. So who deals with that? The parent. The carer. The individual with the disability. The members of the public.

Grading travel for management of other goals can be complex and expensive in terms of the amount of time involved, the workload and financially. Starting off small to test what it is like to travel over certain distances is helpful to assess as you go each of the variables that present as complex challenges. For families that want to travel longer distances such as to the USA, visiting countries within Asia represents a distance half the time span yet provides something of high interest through access to those local Lego parks and local Disneyland etc. Some families are only able to visit places within a certain time limits driving distance from Sydney or from their home because of difficulties coping with car travel or an inability to sleep overnight in a hotel.

Also see packing