There are few things that bring a smile and that amazing feeling inside more than seeing a special needs child having the time of their life. While the understanding of fellow vacationers goes a long way, vacation spots themselves are rapidly adapting their respective premises and programs so individuals with all levels of abilities can have a great time there.
Here are some of the best by category.
The Beach – The word ‘beach’ is almost synonymous with ‘vacation’. More popular beaches and lakes are catering to mobility impairments by offering complimentary or hired beach wheelchairs. Some of the places you can get these are:
- Hanauma Bay, Honolulu (HI)
- Ludington State Park, Ludington (MI) [lakeside]
- Rehoboth Beach, DE
- Stone Harbor Beach (NJ)
Disneyland – Disneyland has a wide range of special programs and features to enable those with special needs to enjoy their wonderland of fun. For those with cognitive, mobility, visual, hearing, light sensitivity and magnetic field disabilities, the company has taken extraordinary care to accommodate and enhance every visit and every experience.
Sports – If you have a differently-abled child who dreams of the Olympics or is crazy about sport, a facility that focuses on empowering the human spirit is the ideal place to nurture that dream and passion. Two of the best in the United States, and perhaps the world, are:
- Winter Park, Colorado’s National Sports Center for the Disabled
- Park City, Utah’s National Ability Center
Adventure – Never thought an African safari would be the place for a child with disabilities? We didn’t, either, until we came across Access 2 Africa Safaris. Based in South Africa, this company’s staff is fluent in American Sign language and will give you the African wildlife adventure you have always dreamed of sharing with your special kid.
Religious – A tour of the Holy Land is one that many families dream of, and one which those with special needs children find especially challenging. Israel is hoping to change that and give families the opportunity to experience the places from which their faith and strength originates. Israel4All takes individuals and groups with all types of disabilities on tours of the major religious and historical sites in the region, complete with accessible accommodation, transport and lodging.
Cruise – Royal Caribbean Cruises in 2014 became the first officially-certified ‘autism-friendly’ cruise line. Every crew member is trained in autism awareness and many are further trained to provide hands-on assistance that families may require. Additionally, it has kids’ programs specially adapted for those with disabilities and a host of other sensory-enhanced activities and toys on board.