When holidays turn violent

While there are many, many different routes to violence and abuse, we know that for some children and young people, a change in routine can be a real trigger and parents and families must learn to manage this as best they can. Uncertainty, anxiety, sensory overload, loss of control or a fear of abandonment can all bring on violent and destructive behaviour directed towards adults, siblings or property as a child expresses their emotions or seeks to regain some sense of control. Some children will manage a particular event but “collapse” later on. For others, the change itself is sufficient to bring on attempts to escape the pressure. Families with children with ASD diagnoses, FASD, or adoptive parents, amongst others, will be all too familiar with this. It is important that professionals are equally aware and supportive of families in finding solutions.

So how to deal with holidays! For some children just dealing with a six week break with no daily school routine will be bad enough, but what about those who would like to brave it and go away? Don’t go? That seems an obvious solution at one level, but ignores the needs of other family members for a break and for self-care. Nevertheless, some families have, in desperation, gone down this route.

There is a lot of chatter on social media at this time of year (in the northern hemisphere at least) with questions about how to deal with this anxiety, and some hopeful and inspiring stories from others. I offer you here a brief selection that I have come across. Please comment with other ideas or links!

The Adoption Social

A website offering support and advice to fellow adopters. In this post, an adoptive parent who has not been able to go on holiday for the last two and a half years talks about the difficulties inherent in taking a holiday, and asks for advice and support.

Life with PDA

Jane Sherwin writes about life with her daughter Mollie, who has a diagnosis of PDA. In this post:  Holiday 2014, Lots of Positives but Bloody Hard Work! we hear about the difficulties of going on holiday, the types of holiday that seem to work best for her family, and of strategies that she has found helpful.

The Open Nest

The Open Nest is a charitable project offering post adoption peer support, advice, short breaks and training in a therapeutic environment. Respite holidays and short breaks are offered in a safe rural setting in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, with accommodation for up to ten people in camping barns. There is no cost to the families. Holidays are funded through donations.

Sensory House Holidays

This is a fledgling organisation that has been brought to my attention this week. Started by foster mother, Denise Searle, and friend Christine Larner, the plan is to offer use of an adapted holiday villa in Spain (hopefully available from later on this year), with a package including pre-holiday coaching and a video tour of the experience. Denise featured recently in her local paper, with an enthusiastic article about her experience and plans. The website should be up soon and able to take bookings. Denise is crowdfunding this so donations welcome!

So over to you! If you can offer other advice, experiences or organisations providing support in this way, please do share your wisdom with us all.


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