I’ve been to Limboland, I’ve been to Worryville, I’ve roamed Surreal Street on many occasions and the Disbelief District is a regular haunt. These are the many places you visit as a parent of an ASD girl (Gorgeous Gardens, Pride Plaza and Amazement Alley also feature heavily by the way).
You start your journey without knowing timetables. You’re misinformed by many officials with clipboards and feel very, very unconfident and alone. No one gives you a map, the directions are gibberish and contradictory and you often feel like you’re a backpacker who packed the wrong clothes for the weather. Oh yes, and in trying to find the right path, you are quickly running out of cash.
Often, you don’t even know your destination, which makes the journey even more bizarre. You start to realize that it may just not be one destination you are trying to find but several clustered closely together with their own language, rules and regulations.
So what do you do?
Well, you do what any self-respecting pioneer would do: you do your own research, you read the guidebooks from cover to cover, you trawl the Internet and you look for favorable reviews from other travelers. You will take several wrong turns in the hope that around the next corner, the Tourist Information Office will be open and able to help.
But guess what, the Tourist Information Office is closed for over a year. They don’t return your calls, they cannot open any earlier even if you’re desperate and they offer you no information while you wait.
You check the door again and nope, the door will not budge; it is indeed closed for another 12 months (minimum) and there is nothing you can do to change it.
Do you sit there for 12 months? Do you bide your time twiddling your thumbs until they can help? Absolutely not. You’d miss out on so much, so you stop everyone you meet on their journeys and you start to share information.
You realize, through the whispers of fellow travelers, that even if the Tourist Information Office does open, they often run out of leaflets and may have been unable to secure the right maps. Tour guides and drivers will no doubt be overbooked.
So, you keep putting one foot in front of the other. You become emboldened each time you meet a similar traveller or find a new nugget of information.
With each step, you become more confident. You find that there’s a huge, supportive group of travelers who are there with you every step of the way, and not only do your paths cross, they synergistically merge. Your steps become their steps, your focus becomes their focus and slowly, over time you get an inkling that these fellow travelers will teach you so much more than the Tourist Information Office ever could have.
The journey is arduous and never-ending, but with fellow travelers at your side, you start to raise your gaze from the path and see the beauty of the trees and flowers around you. All the worry has kept your head bent downwards. Relax, look up, breathe in, and realize that wherever this journey takes you, it is going to be marvelous.