Watching and reading reports about the travel chaos caused by the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland, I have been forcibly reminded why we just don't travel with Son 2 nowadays.
I used to love to travel. I've even lived abroad for a while. But anyone who travels regularly will know that from time to time difficulties will be encountered in the form of delays, breakdowns, missed connections or even, as in this case, a totally unpredictable 'act of God'.
Over the years I've had my own share of travel difficulties. A missed connection in Germany while travelling alone at the age of 17 necessitated spending hours on Cologne station in the dead of night. A broken-down plane enforced an extra 24 hours in Hong Kong when all hotels were fully booked and the airline tried to book us into a brothel. A delayed ferry meant ultimately spending an uncomfortable night on Victoria Coach Station. And of course there have been many more frustrations in the form of traffic jams and vehicle breakdowns.
But Son 2 couldn't cope with any of that. Like many people with autism he needs life to be totally predictable, because he has a constant high level of anxiety. There is nothing he loves better than the security of home and he just doesn't 'do' holidays. If he is stressed and unhappy, we are stressed.
For years we did go on holiday, because we are lucky enough to have family living by the sea in a beautiful part of the country. But for the last few years staying in that sort of 'home from home' has not been possible, so we have stayed here.
Of course, not all people with autism are like Son 2 and I have friends who do travel successfully with their autistic offspring. But trips have to be planned like a military operation and recent events have left me wondering how they would cope if stranded abroad by a flight ban, or cooped up in a stalled Eurostar train for hours on end.
Perhaps I am being overly negative in worrying about such things. But I used to return from even our straightforward trips with Son 2 feeling mentally and physically ill from the stress of trying to prevent him doing damage or escaping the building. It was never, ever a holiday for me.