Traveling with Matthew

One of my concerns in making this voyage was how Matthew would do. He is pretty good natured and willing to go along with the plan, generally with minimal protest. But how would he do on a trip of this magnitude?

Note: after posting this it occurred to me that not everyone knows Matthew. I know, hard to believe. Matthew is well known to many. He is an adult who looks much younger than his age. He is non-verbal and has many traits on the autism spectrum, including a desire for strict routine (the mere idea of travel upsets the apple cart). But he also is engaging and compassionate and if only he would talk, might be a chatty Patty. One of Matthew’s most familiar characteristics is his way of connecting with others. He pulls a person into conversation through showing of another item. Often it is the TV Guide, sometimes it’s just what is in his pocket (and there’s always something in his pocket). He points to the item and you respond. Before you know it, you are having a conversation with Matthew…and he has never uttered a word.tw

While we haven’t made it all the way I think I can safely say Matthew has done well. He is sleeping in the tent far better than I imagined. Our decision to cook most of our meals has made this part of the routine easier. The good…and bad…part is that he gets up as soon as I move. It has made getting on the road early easier but there are times I’d like to have just a few minutes of quiet.

"Oh here, let me show you what I have in my wallet..."

“Oh here, let me show you what I have in my wallet…”

One thing that has been good is the Canadian awareness of gluten free food.  Even in the tiniest of grocery stores we have found clearly labeled GF products. In fact, yesterday we enjoyed fresh poppy seed muffins picked up at a little store just out in the middle of nowhere.

Matthew has completely worn out all of his TV Guides so this morning when he found one at McDonald’s he was very happy. The good thing for me is this TV guide has new and different shows so he has been spending the morning just pouring over it. Luckily, he found they offer exciting programming that includes Gilligan’s Island and Stargate.

A town called Vulcan? Who knew??? (Matthew did.)

A town called Vulcan? Who knew??? (Matthew did.)

But though Matthew protests the idea of camping he has figured out his job in setting up the tent and he has done better than I expected sleeping in it. I also was very concerned that he would not use the ‘no flush’ toilets but that too has not been a problem.

Ah yes, this is the Matthew we've all come to know and love...

Ah yes, this is the Matthew we’ve all come to know and love…

Many of you who have met Matthew know of his love for maps. He loves them so much that one year my sister asked what he’d like for Christmas and I told her an atlas. Sure enough, he spent the next year pouring over it, marking the places he’d like to go, scratching off the ones he doesn’t. Don’t ask me about his rhyme or reason because I don’t know. So, on this trip at every opportunity Matthew picks up a map…or several. But they’re not meant for sharing and he only gives one up under protest.

The truth is Matthew is mostly happy but sometimes adds his two cents worth by pinching Dad or Sister when we start talking about doing something with which he disagrees. Today, for example, he spent the afternoon holding his head with a fake ‘Oh, Boo Hoo’ cry because we were talking about some glaciers we would soon see at Banff. Matthew has decided he has seen enough glaciers. Yesterday, as we were deciding whether to camp or to stay in a motel Bob made a U-turn in the road. This also was enough to set the poor boy off. It seems it is hard to head home if we keep turning around…

Drying dishes.

Drying dishes.

Traveling with someone who has any special need requires some advance planning and a realization that there will be some compromise…sometimes a lot of compromise.  But it’s doable.

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4 thoughts on “Traveling with Matthew

  1. I’m so amazed at how well and long Maythew has traveled! You have taught me so much as I have read your adventures on this trip. I thought you were crazy, you know, when you began this adventure, but I’m a lucky reader as I’ve vicariously traveled with you and seen some spectacular and fascinating sites. Thanks so much for bringing everyone along with you through your writing!! It’s been so much fun!

  2. Sometimes I am sure Matthew is a better traveler than me. How else would you get around if there was not a map. Can’t count on the darn gps. I love you Matthew so much. And Maggie misses you.

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