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An Aspie and the Open Road

by Aaron Tanner

· Interstate 10,Maryland,florida

Summer is right around the corner, which means many will be traveling. Over the next several weeks, I would like to share some of my travel stories. Most of my solo travels have been to see relatives but over the past couple of years I have taken overnight trips by myself without family around.

One memory I have involves driving by myself from Alabama to Maryland to help my brother move into his new house. I was really nervous for the first half of the trip but as I got further into Virginia, I started feeling more comfortable. After 14 hours on the road, I made it to Maryland so that I could spend the weekend helping my brother move into his new home.

The biggest confidence booster was attempting the Washington Beltway by myself. If you are not familiar with that freeway, it gives I-285 in Atlanta a run for its money in terms of number of cars on the road. However, it was at 10PM on a Thursday night and I called 511 to make sure there were no incidents on the particular stretch of the Beltway I wanted to drive, and with conditions clear, I made sure to pay attention to the signs and turn off my radio.

Let me tell you something about the Washington Beltway. Even the heartiest Neurotypical has fears driving that particular stretch of freeway to the point they will take side roads to avoid the bypass or get someone else to drive. There was no way I would have attempted that road in the middle of afternoon rush hour. Instead, I would have taken I-81 up to Hagerstown, Maryland and then took I-70 East to Baltimore in order to go against the flow of afternoon traffic.

Fortunately, my drives to see relatives have been less eventful. My grandma lives between Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida off I-10. My dad took me and my siblings all the time to see my grandma and my grandpa when he was alive. Since he moved away to Colorado a few years ago, I knew then that if I ever wanted to see my grandparents again I would need to get comfortable with driving myself to Florida. Thanks to my interest in roads, I knew the route by heart.

If you have an Aspie child, if they are of teen or young adult age, encouraging them to travel by themselves by staying with relatives without you is a good way to start nudging them towards being independent as they are likely to be familiar with your child. This can be done either by flying or driving. If this is not possible, encourage your Aspie child to visit a friend who may live in a different city or state for a weekend. Other options include sending them to camp for a few days or driving to an event that may be a couple of hours away, such as a comic book convention, without a parent.

Since I have more experience with driving vs. flying, in my next post I will share some tips on what to do if your Aspie child decides to drive by themselves to a location away from home. Meanwhile, enjoy this YouTube video of 300 miles of I-10 in Florida done in 10 minutes of takemytrip.com. I usually get on this particular stretch of interstate at approximately the 5:30 into the video.

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