One of the common misconceptions for those with a disability like an NVLD is that they can’t travel or enjoy special events such as Broadway shows. This is because they can struggle with over stimulation and furthermore doing these things can bring changes to their normal routines which can cause stress. The truth is, just like the academic and social challenges, there are ways to overcome these challenges which requires self developed practice and patience that both you and your family to put into practice.
For example, I was very young when I went to my first Broadway show in which I saw Cats. This show was quite popular and included a lot of special effects which came as a bit of a shock to many in attendance. Fortunately, my parents planned out things ahead of time and we sat in the back so all of the special effects weren’t right near us thus it lessened their impact on me. In addition, leading up to our trip my Mom spoke to me about what would be going on and how things were going to be and also purchased me a treat to have during the beginning when the lighting and noise from the crowd was especially loud. In addition, my parents bought aisle seats in the back so if there were issues we could exit without interrupting others.
Besides attending my first Broadway show, I also flew in an airplane at a very young age too. My first flight was to Florida and my Mom even took me and my sister to Disney World. It was definitely a stressful experience as my Dad couldn’t go with us and looking back it was hard for my sister too as I needed more attention and support than she did. My Mom had everything planned out and provided me with the right coping techniques so we wouldn’t be a huge distraction to the rest of the flight. As a result, I didn’t experience any meltdowns that the fast pace and big crowds that go along with flying can sometimes bring for those with an NVLD.
Traveling continued to be of value to us so the trips continued and our next big one was traveling to Europe during the summer of 6th grade. It was a trip many were concerned about, but we were visiting our former exchange students and some of my parents’ closest friends who were more like family, so my parents were like “we are doing this.” It ended up that my Mom and I flew to Germany early to give me a few days to adjust. The,n when my Dad and sister arrived, we began the day trips and because of my early arrival we prevented a few bumps as I had time to be prepared for what lie ahead. Generally, whenever we arrived at a new place the first day was always more low key so I wasn’t constantly on the go which greatly reduced my anxiety level. For example, once we arrived at our exchange students home in France the first day was spent by the pool at his house and then going to the nearby beach so I could have a day to cool off before we started to explore again. We learned after exploring Germany and Switzerland that breaks and more low key activities were necessary to give me time to adjust to being in a new place.
Today I continue to travel and go to many different special events. Therefore I strongly believe learning how to do this while having more family support often works best and each time it becomes easier for you as you learn from experiences and figure out what works best for you and what triggers your tension. I also recommend that when flying, wear shoes that don’t need to tied as you are expected to remove your coat, shoes, and carry bag etc. in a busy line and fast pace setting. This can be a trigger for your anxiety as your fine motor and spatial skills deficits will show up. Remember, this isn’t a reason not to fly, it is only a minor inconvenience.
Overall, while traveling and attending special events may seem difficult for those with an NVLD, the truth is with the proper support and positive encouragement it can be done. In fact, I strongly believe they will enjoy it too as years later I have attended so many Broadway plays including “Hamilton” and love to travel. Quite frankly, had my parents not been a believer of these learning-by-experiences moments I wouldn’t have the interest I have today. Yes, it’s true traveling and attending special events will occasionally bring frustrations, but at the same time they will create wonderful memories you will have for a lifetime.
I so love to travel!Share your own story