How I Enjoy Travel With Asperger's and Medical Conditions

I love traveling. I love being somewhere with different sights. In that, I’m not different from my NT (neurotypical) sister. But I have a checklist that relates to my Asperger’s syndrome, as well as my arthritis, my Irlen syndrome, my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), my asthma, and my endometriosis, that others wouldn’t even think about.

If I’m traveling, I need to look at the following:

  • Am I going alone? If so, can I avoid being in crowds for too long? If not, will I be able to find somewhere to escape to before my sensory overload kicks in?
  • How much pain medication am I likely going to have to pack?
  • Which pain meds do I bring?
  • Can I access the places I want to go with my walking stick or crutches?
  • What are the potential triggers I face on this trip?
  • Do I have enough antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds?
  • If I am going with someone, can they recognize the signs of a meltdown and do they know how to handle it?
  • What sort of air quality am I facing? Do I need both of my inhalers? Have I packed my asthma card in my wallet in case I get hospitalized?
  • Do I need travel insurance? If so, does it cover pre-existing conditions? How much of my vacation budget will that take up?
  • What sort of lighting do the places I want to see have? And will my tints be enough to shade my eyes? Should I pack my baseball cap too?

These are the things I look at before I even book my tickets. As an adult with Asperger’s, I have less meltdowns, but I still stim. I’ve stopped caring what those stims look like to others, but there was a time I would have factored that into my list as well.

You would think that cities are ruled out by that list of considerations. But they aren’t. Even somewhere busy like London has quieter spaces. The Starbucks I’m sitting in as I write this is calm, lit softly, relaxing. I’m here with my sister but am able to retreat into my quiet calm space after facing the crowds. And I know, should I go into a meltdown, have an anxiety attack, a flashback, an asthma attack, or go into sensory overload, she knows what to do.

I can enjoy traveling in my own way. But I will always be grateful to return to the comfort of my own home at the end of the trip.

This post originally appeared on Nat Le Brun’s blog, The Ever Scribbling Nubbin.

Image via Thinkstock.

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