Monday 12 August 2019

More than a nice day out in Yosemite National Park

David and Jane walk to Swinging Bridge

What am I saying? Every one of the four days we spent at Yosemite National Park in California was a beautiful bright sunny day, with a brilliant blue sky and temperatures in the high 20s.

We had lovely walks around the Sequoias, hiked (to not up) the Half Dome and marvelled at the views from Glacier point. But one day in the middle was particularly special because the things were different for the kids… but they not only coped, they had amazing time and achieved somethings that I wouldn’t have thought possible a year or so ago.

After our trek to Mirror Lake at the base of the Half Dome on Wednesday (much more about being at the base of half dome and near a lovely river than seeing anything that interesting in the lake btw) we past a sign for the hike to the top of Yosemite falls.

Having seen the beautiful falls earlier in the day I was sure this was a trek the younger kids wouldn’t cope with. It was at least four miles upwards and David and Jane are only eight and six respectively. So, this left us a dilemma. Do we split the family for the day so hubby and Anthony could do the falls hike? What would David, Jane and I do and would David cope with us being apart?

Sounds like a daft set of questions. Most people go on holiday to spend time together but as kids get older and gaps both physically and mentally occur between our kids it’s not always going to be the case that we can. Typically, kids like David who have a development gap or delay find this gap widens as they get older. Essentially, they fall further and further behind their peers. Jane is ahead of David in almost everything and has been for many years despite being two years younger than him.

And this means we don’t always want to do the same things on holiday.

Our additional issue?

Well, like many autistic individuals, David relies on routine and sameness to feel safe and that he can cope. On many days out we find that we simply cannot split the family unit because David is worried. This has previous got the point where he’s worried if one of us leaves because they need to go to the toilet.

We’ve not been able to go get another drink at self-service restaurant because it meant leaving the table and so on. However, over the years we’ve practiced this over and over again. We’ve developed language that David understands means that the person or persons leaving will return.

This has included saying ‘I’ll be right back’ meaning I’ll just be a few minutes. To ‘I’ll see you later’ meaning I’ll be back in a few hours or at the end of the day. Typically, the later has been when leaving David and another adult in the home while someone else goes out. So how would he cope with us leaving his Dad and brother and going somewhere else?

The start of the Yosemite falls hike was a very short walk from the same visitor parking that we’d easily parked in that day. In the opposite direction across the meadow was Swinging Bridge, a bridge that actually didn’t swing but went over a river and lovely little beach.

The next day we were able to park the van in the same car park. We then encouraged David to say ‘goodbye’ and ‘I’ll see you later’ to Anthony and his Dad, and then I was able to walk Jane and David to the beach.

David on the beach in Yosemite National Park

We stayed there for the six hours it took Anthony and my hubby to climb to the peak of the falls and back. David did absolutely fine. He played in the water, he sat on the logs, we drank some water and had some snacks. He and Jane walked around together. As we had the place basically to ourselves there was no one to stress him and I would let him move around without being attached to me.

Eventually the boys turned up. Anthony, and his infamous tip toe walking meant he had completely worn through the front of his trainers. I made a mental note that next time we’d need hiking shoes for him. But was also immensely proud of his hiking achievement.

Then we ate a late lunch together on the beach and headed back to the car for the evening activities.

It would have been a lovely day for any family. For us it highlighted how far we’ve all come. The advances in the abilities of the kids and the faith we have in them being able to cope.

Sometimes, people think we are crazy for taking autistic kids out on adventures. True, sometimes they don’t work, but the more times things do the greater chance they will be able to cope with what live throws at them. Plus, this way I get to have great days and adventures with views like these.


  1. How great that David managed with the change of routine. And amazing photographs! #KCACOLS

  2. That sounds like a lovely holiday and a great experience, I'm so glad that it went well for everyone and you found something that worked. #KCACOLS

  3. Oh my. Those pictures are really something. It must be spectacular to spend your days with postcard views as the background. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time


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