Posted by: myautisticmuslimchild | June 28, 2010

Sanibel Island with Amin and Safiyya

I know my postings have been a little delayed recently, but its only because I finally had a chance to take a little vacation with the kids; and boy was it ever time!

We decided to travel by car since it is only a 4 hr drive. A child with autism will have the same needs that they have at home, as well as some new ones, when traveling.  Also, Amin’s “typical” sister needs  lots of consideration as well.

I usually write out my list of what I need to pack and as I put things in a suitcase I just cross them off my list – a good way of not missing anything. This practice has saved me lots of time, as well as lots of headaches. Careful planning is always key to a successful and stress free vacation.

It is recommended that if you travel  by car you should pick the time when the child is taking a nap. For me, this is not an option, neither of my children have been used to taking a nap since they were 2 years old. My concern usually is that they are well fed before we leave, so we do not have to eat out at the fast food restaurants. I usually pack their favorite snacks as well, so if anyone gets hungry along the way, we have something familiar and that always has a calming effect on them; especially Amin who is very much stuck to his schedule and items that he likes and knows.

It is always wise to take along their favorite DVD’s or music CD’s to keep them occupied during the long car trip. Amin and Safiyya don’t really care for watching movies in the car, they are more interested in what they can see outside. Thank God (Alhamdulillah) – Amin was very verbal and labeling most of the things he was seeing or the things I pointed out to him. Also, I packed a few of their favorite toys and books to keep them occupied.

Our trip was scheduled for 4 hrs and 30 minutes and we ended up driving 6 hrs. I always stop several times for potty breaks and stretching legs, as well as a little play time at the rest areas. Although the trip lasted longer than it was anticipated, it was still very enjoyable for everyone involved.

Once we got to our destination, despite the long trip, he just wanted to run to the beach right away. After they satisfied their desire for being in the water and playing with the sand, we all decided to have dinner.

To make our stay more enjoyable and less stressful, I learned about the environment and its ” hazards” prior to our departure. Despite all the homework I did, we still encountered a near miss with a stingray, as well as a sand crab in very unusual location (Amin’s swimming shorts),  stepping on sharp shells and walking on the hot sand barefoot.  A shark sighting was also very interesting and we stayed at shore for a while due to the dangerous marine life warnings. Also, Amin got bit by some insects and he had a reaction. This helped me to learn that Bull Frog has a mosquito repellent with sunscreen SP 30 and is DEET free.  I got it for him and it really works great.

Using sunscreen was always something I truly dread, but this time I chose an awesome sunscreen that worked wonderful and didn’t make my kids cry or have an allergic reaction. If your kids anything like mine, having an allergic reaction to sunscreen while rubbing their eyes with their hands and arm, and it starts stinging, swelling, leaving red blotches all over on their body … well you need to try Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple SP 50. This sunscreen  really works and it is truly kid friendly.

Sanibel Island is truly a great destination for families with autistic children. The beaches are not crowded, they are clean, some hotels offer rooms with a full kitchen, which is important when your little one is on a special diet, so you can make your own food when necessary.

Furthermore, restaurants are wonderful and very accommodating to all the children. How can a child say no to eat just about anything at the “Blue Giraffe” restaurant, or at the Island Cow,  the Bubble room, and the list goes on and on. The environment is favorable for all children, autistic or not, and opens up new opportunities for them to explore, learn and entertain themselves. They have lots of activities for all age groups and interests.

It was truly a pleasure to see both of my kids having so much fun. The most amazing sight was how Amin just opened up, he was a different child, talking and manding for much of the time we spent there. This trip was certainly worth all the traveling.


  1. It is heart warming to hear your children had such a good experience here at Sanibel.Your post was of particular interest to me because my 25 year old Grand Daughter’s job for the past 6 years has been to stay with two autistic brothers. They were quite small when she started caring for them and the oldest is now 16 and the other 14. She has learned so much from them and they from her. She has also been taking college classes in a medical field, but now hates to give up staying with the boys. They have grown to love each other. Their own parents did not want them, so the state furnishes a house for the two boys and round the clock care givers. My Grand Daughter stays with them 4 days and nights each week. She wants to bring them here to Sanibel for a visit. I would love that. I know your children will have gained some wonderful memories from their vacation.

    • Thank you for your comment. What a wonderful granddaughter you have. I think it would be a great experience for her and the boys to visit the Island.
      When I visit the Island, I feel like I came home. I use to go there when I was a kid, and my dream was always to take my own kids there. I am hoping that God willing Sanibel Island will be our family vacation spot from now on. My daughter still talking about it, and my little autistic boy can say “Sanibel”.

  2. Lovely, heart warming story. Sanibel is a joy for children of all ages!

    Just a future tip on accommodations. If you are coming for at least 7 nights, you might want to check out the condos on the Island.

    They will give you more space than a hotel room, will probably price out better if you compare a hotel suite to a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo and most units provide movies, games, etc. for night time entertainment.

  3. Thank you for the good advise. I will be sure to look into that option for the next vacation.

  4. ahhhhhh very good, bookmarked 🙂 keep it up, JusyKassy.

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