Travel Memories of a Teen with Autism

Guest Post by Ryan Comins

One of my most memorable family vacations took place during the summer of 1997.  My dad had just graduated from college with a bachelor degree, so he treated my mom, my brother, and I with a two week trip out west.
We first drove out to my grandfather’s house in Illinois.
After that, we went on to Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Minnesota, and Wisconsin before taking a ferry to Lake Michigan and driving back home.
We saw many sites that I will never forget: the Badlands in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful, and many more fond memories.

Travel Memories of a Teen with Autism VOLCANO
While driving along a highway in Wyoming, we hit a deer as it slammed into the side of our car, sending the right side mirror sailing into a corn field. Being on the autism spectrum with a fascination for animals, I was more preoccupied with whether the deer had been hurt than by the near miss we had just experienced.
Through some twist of fate, the people driving behind us stopped to see if we were alright. It turned out that they lived in the same town we did. Here we were in the middle of Wyoming talking with some people who lived across town from us in Michigan.

Travel Memories of a Teen with Autism MOUNTAINS
The sky turned black while we were in a hotel in Minnesota as a tornado came within five miles of our hotel.
That close call ramped up my anxiety.
Before taking shelter on the part of the hotel, I remember standing outside as my dad called up to a guy on a nearby tower, asking him if he could see a funnel. As far as I can recall, the guy could not.

Travel Memories of a Teen with Autism WATERFALL
Travel Accommodations? I didn’t get any

I never really received any accommodations for my autism spectrum disorder.

The issues that I faced were related to my anxiety, during the tornado for example and my preoccupation with animals, which was shown by my reaction when we hit the deer.

Also, I had a tendency to be in “my little world,” which was why my dad gave me a pep talk before getting out of the car for a picnic in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming.

He told me that if he said so, we were to go back to the car and leave behind the food. He was worried about a bear coming up to our picnic and didn’t want my brother or me to get hurt.
Thankfully, nothing happened, and we enjoyed our picnic without incident.

Travel Memories of a Teen with Autism HOUSE

My future plans include Travel!

Someday in the future, I would like to travel out West again by myself or with a close friend.
This time, I have a different objective in mind.
For the past eight years, I have been writing my fantasy series.  I would like to experience the environments I saw when I was younger to gain story inspiration.
I would like to watch the sun rise over the mountains and note the chill that may or may not be present in the air.  I would also like to witness the sights, sounds, smells, and the feel of the air, the presence of insects, and all sorts of things that would make my writing all the more detailed, colorful and vivid.  I plan to take this trip in the next five years or so.

Travel Memories of a Teen with Autism LAKE
Ryan is a writer, podcast host, and autism advocate.  He was diagnosed with autism at age 12 and now at 25, doing well and committed to using his writing skills to help others to understand autism better.



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