When my good friend Christy Hovey and her husband want to take their children camping, they instead go to their local outdoor store, sit in one of the display tents for a while, and pretend. The employees know them by name and have acknowledged the fact that Christy and her family deserve discounts on merchandise, because they look like they’re having so much fun that camping gear just flies off the shelves.
It’s not that she doesn’t want to experience the real thing. Christy is one of the most ambitious people I’ve met, and she’s up for just about any challenge, but she also has a six-year-old daughter with epilepsy, autism, and sensory processing disorder. She jokes that her local Emergency Room should give her a punch card. Camping is not in the cards right now.
Christy has three other children, too. Her husband is a wounded combat veteran. If any family deserves a vacation (of course, all families do), it’s this one. But while the family may need a vacation, the special needs of a child never take a vacation. This makes travel difficult. They need longer time to board, loud noises become major problems, and meltdowns are highly probable. And because Christy’s daughter’s disabilities are not immediately and outwardly recognizable, she’s more likely to suffer scowls from those around her than be offered a helping hand. But there are resources and companies out there which recognize this, and in turn deserve a little recognition themselves.