Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
Finding a good place to vacation when you have a kid with special needs isn’t always easy (understatement alert). Depending on your child’s abilities, you need to assess accessibility. And if you want childcare—my husband and I always do, so we can relax because we so deserve it)—you have to call ahead and make sure the place is amenable to hosting kids with special needs.
Over the years, we’ve had great experiences with Disney Cruises and Disney World; Franklyn D. Resort & Spa in Jamaica (where every family gets their own vacation nanny); Woodloch resort in The Poconos; the Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vermont (where Max skied with Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports) and, as of last week, Park City, Utah.
We stayed at the beautiful Deer Valley Resort, located a minute’s drive away from skiing at Snow Park Lodge. There are readily available shuttles to transport guest everywhere, a wonderful thing if your child is obsessed with all things that go, as Max is. The Deer Valley Children’s Center offers state-licensed childcare for babies age two months to 12 years, and are exceptionally welcoming to children of all abilities. Max blissfully hung out there for a few mornings (he called it “ski school”). We also roamed around Park City, visiting the Utah Olympic Park (site of several 2002 Olympic events) and the child-friendly Park City Museum. The dining options are abundant; favorites included Fireside Dining at Empire Canyon Lodge, The Mariposa and the Skier’s Buffet at Stein Eriksen Lodge.
What drew us to Park City is The National Ability Center, which offers year-round, affordable outdoor sports and recreation activities for people with disabilities, along with summer camps.
The NAC campus features a lodge with 26 fully accessible rooms; they’re available to those participating in NAC activities and their families. During winter, rates are an extremely reasonable $70 a night.
There’s a hippotherapy program in a 17,000 square foot heated indoor arena.
We came for the adaptive skiing, offered through the NAC at three locations: Park City Mountain Resort, Snow Lodge and Canyons. I booked three three-hour sessions for Max at $100 each, with a ski pass included; you rent skis separately.
Max got an awesome instructor, Kevin, who knew exactly how to make Max comfortable. He gave Max a rubber wheel and asked him to steer left and right as if he were Lightning McQueen, the Cars character Max idolizes.
Within minutes, Max was gliding along, with Kevin’s assistance. Clips on the front of his skis held them parallel.
Max also rode the magic carpet, which was a little tricky when it came to balance but he hung in there. Overall, Max had a blast and built up confidence in his abilities. And that’s both his and my idea of a good time.
Other programs that offer adaptive skiing for kids with special needs include the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colorado; the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, also in Colorado; and Stride Adaptive Sports which offers skiing in Hancock, MA, Hillsdale, NY, and New Hartford, CT. Many other ski resorts around the country have adaptive ski programs; just Google “adaptive skiing” for your area.
What sort of great vacation spots has your family been to? Please, share your ideas!