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Traveling with an ASD teen

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Marianjhart

New Member
Past OR future Camino
May-June (2018)
Hello! I’ll be doing my second Camino starting later this month and am very happy to be bringing my teenage twins with me this time. I am so excited for us to have this special experience as a family. We are doing the CF and will start in SJPP. As I make plans for where we might stay, I realize I need some thoughts/advice that anyone may have. My son is on the autism spectrum. Physically he is up to walking and spiritually I know it will be beneficial for him as it is my belief that the Holy Spirit meets us all exactly where we are at. He is exited about the trip (both of my kids are!) and I am, too.

Here is my quandary. He requires my assistance with some of his self care needs (some hygiene, some dressing) and I’m wondering if this means that we need to avoid large alburgues with gender segregated bathrooms? Or in some cases if there are “family restrooms” available for those who need to assist somebody in their family of a different gender? I’ve not seen this in large alburgues… but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

If anyone has navigated this kind of situation before, please tell me your secrets.
 
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biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
At the risk of sounding flippant, I don't think male v female facilities should hamper you, unless shared facilities are an issue for your son. I was a member of a very exclusive spa in Biarritz for many years and the sexes shared a locker room and changing facilities.
 

Marianjhart

New Member
Past OR future Camino
May-June (2018)
At the risk of sounding flippant, I don't think male v female facilities should hamper you, unless shared facilities are an issue for your son. I was a member of a very exclusive spa in Biarritz for many years and the sexes shared a locker room and changing facilities.
We are not bothered at all. But I do not want to disturb other pilgrims who may not wish to have a women in the men’s bathroom or have me bring my teenage son into the women’s room.
 

Xali1970

Planning the next one
Past OR future Camino
2016 Primitivo
2018 Pimitivo, VdlP
2022 Too Many
We are not bothered at all. But I do not want to disturb other pilgrims who may not wish to have a women in the men’s bathroom or have me bring my teenage son into the women’s room.

I'd be surprised if many men would have an issue with a mother helping her son in a men's changing room, provided you don't have an issue in the presence of men in various state of undress.

Just do what needs be done.
 
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Walter James Palmer

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2017 Porto-santiago
I suggest you consider one of the less crowded camino paths. Crowds tend to require more regulation and stricter adherence to rules/boundaries/limits/guidelines - a less crowded place allows a bit more flexibility. A less crowded path also allows more time for you to tend to your children, where a more crowded path becomes a sort of race to the next albergue to secure a bed.
 

Marianjhart

New Member
Past OR future Camino
May-June (2018)
I suggest you consider one of the less crowded camino paths. Crowds tend to require more regulation and stricter adherence to rules/boundaries/limits/guidelines - a less crowded place allows a bit more flexibility. A less crowded path also allows more time for you to tend to your children, where a more crowded path becomes a sort of race to the next albergue to secure a bed.
🙏 It’s true. On the other hand, the CF is the most traveled and therefore best supported path. It has the most beds to start with. And it’s the one that I know and will have the most ease supporting my children on because of that. In any event, tickets are purchased and the CF it will be. We leave in a week and a half so I’m not throwing out the whole plan at this point to start again. Even with helping him get dressed, we will be long down the road hours before some pilgrims wake up and I’m handy enough with a phone so if I need to I can call ahead for reservations and such. Hopefully we will not strike out finding beds.
 

Walter James Palmer

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2017 Porto-santiago
🙏 It’s true. On the other hand, the CF is the most traveled and therefore best supported path. It has the most beds to start with. And it’s the one that I know and will have the most ease supporting my children on because of that. In any event, tickets are purchased and the CF it will be. We leave in a week and a half so I’m not throwing out the whole plan at this point to start again. Even with helping him get dressed, we will be long down the road hours before some pilgrims wake up and I’m handy enough with a phone so if I need to I can call ahead for reservations and such. Hopefully we will not strike out finding beds.
Sounds like you have experience, enjoy the Camino. I hope you encounter lots of helpful pilgrims to smooth your journey. Buen Camino!
 

LesR

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017, 2018; Camino Portuguese 2019
I’m wondering if this means that we need to avoid large alburgues with gender segregated bathrooms?
Gender segregated bathrooms was the norm for me in 2017 and 2018, with only a handful of mixed bathrooms with individual cubicles for toilet and/or shower (Complexo Xacobeo, Triacastela comes to mind - and my wife did encounter one male still the buff in the bathroom, presumably in the erroneous assumption that it was a single gender bathroom!), or, in the case of Casa Susi in Trabedelo, individual shower/toilet bathrooms.

Without the benefit of traveling with youngsters who need the assistance that you have outlined, my approach would be to seek out the smaller albergues and explain your predicament to the operators, and talk with your fellow pilgrims once you have booked in so that there are no surprises...
 
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keith duke scott

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Last camino Norte 2017
Next camino 2022?
Hello! I’ll be doing my second Camino starting later this month and am very happy to be bringing my teenage twins with me this time. I am so excited for us to have this special experience as a family. We are doing the CF and will start in SJPP. As I make plans for where we might stay, I realize I need some thoughts/advice that anyone may have. My son is on the autism spectrum. Physically he is up to walking and spiritually I know it will be beneficial for him as it is my belief that the Holy Spirit meets us all exactly where we are at. He is exited about the trip (both of my kids are!) and I am, too.

Here is my quandary. He requires my assistance with some of his self care needs (some hygiene, some dressing) and I’m wondering if this means that we need to avoid large alburgues with gender segregated bathrooms? Or in some cases if there are “family restrooms” available for those who need to assist somebody in their family of a different gender? I’ve not seen this in large alburgues… but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

If anyone has navigated this kind of situation before, please tell me your secrets.
Good morning 1st I must say i have not navigated this type of situation before, I expect few people have but I wanted to commend you for being an outstanding human being and parent for doing this. Your kids are so lucky to have you as their parent.
To your point I will say that in my experience the bathroom situation is very fluid and not extremely legalistic about how they are used. Just do what you need and I'm sure no one will have a problem. Well of course there may be someone who does but the vast majority are very understanding and even helpful. Have a wonderful time and I admire you a great deal. Buen camino
 
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Past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I was a member of a very exclusive spa in Biarritz for many years and the sexes shared a locker room and changing facilities.
Don, I can see the sharing of locker rooms in Europe as even nude beaches are plenty, but in America I do not imagine exclusive spas (or any spa) sharing locker rooms, even at the YMCA's.
That said, I totally agree that there would be minimal, if any issues, in a mother helping her son in an albergie bathroom setting.
 

LavanyaLea

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (May/June 2022)
Hi there… it is a remarkable and thoughtful thing you are doing with your children :) I too am neurodivergent and I recently finished the CF from Sarria with my dog Fuji.

Here are some thoughts:
- Try to avoid arriving in Sarria at the weekend, it will be super busy as most of the organised groups/buses/coaches seem to start then, to reach Santiago on Fri/Sat. During our short (!!) Camino, we had to take rest days when Fuji got injured and we resumed our day 3 on Sunday to arrive on Santiago on Tuesday - and suddenly there were no more crowds. Like really. I have videos of stretches of quiet trails and all you could hear was the birds. Bliss. I don’t know how much flexibility you have with your travel dates, maybe when you are closer/within 7-10 days to Santiago then start planning and time your arrival day into Santiago, midweek arrival in Santiago is always less busy (see pilgrim’s office stats for daily arrival figures).

- There are private albergues with private rooms and private bathrooms that won’t break the banks. Then you will not have to worry about helping your son with his personal care. You may not always find them at every stages but it will be nice to have them every now and then. 2 places that come to mind with very reasonable price: in Arzua - Los Tres Abetos, private albergue run by Swiss German family. They have one private room downstairs which has a bunk bed (sleeps 2). It is connected to a disabled toilet and shower, which, while can be accessed from both the private room and the communal area, it is generally thought its use is reserved for the people staying in the private room. The dorms are upstairs (over 2 floors) and they have communal showers and toilets on those floors. When I stayed there, the downstairs bathroom was only used by another pilgrim once who wanted to wash her clothes and all the other shower stalls were being used. I suppose 2 of you can stay in the private room and 1 upstairs in the dorm. It was €32 for the private room (so €16 per person) and €14 for the dorm.

The other really good private albergue is Albergue PortoSantiago in Portomarin. They have dorm, double (2 x single beds), triple, and quadruple bed rooms. I stayed in the double with private shower and it was €30. PLUS they have air conditioned rooms(!!!). For that price, wow. There is a heatwave warning for Spain next week and after that we will be well and truly in the summer so AC and private shower after a hot long walk, can’t beat that.

- There is an Italian group doing organised Camino for people with autism, they’re on Instagram and Telegram @camminautismo. I haven’t spoken to them directly, only seeing their posts and stories, but it may be useful to have a chat with them.

Buen camino!
 
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