A little background information:
This is Amber she is 4 years old and has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) with traits of ADHD and Autism. Amber has a younger sister Maisie who is 15 months old and lives with Mummy, Nicki and Daddy, Paul in Worcestershire.
​Amber is a lively little girl who's always on the go; she finds it difficult to control her emotions and frustration. She requires a calm place if it all gets too much at home. Amber is a 'Sensory Seeker' and therefore will thrive on all sensory experiences, the messier the better!

Sharing our personal holiday experience:

Transport - There are always a few hurdles with going on a family holiday, number one is transport due to being unable to drive. Amber's father Paul had learning difficulties as a child, he has Dyslexia and has found it difficult to pass his theory tests, although he is determined to still try! And I had an accident when younger and struggle with my confidence when driving. We have to plan to visit places that are reachable via bus or train. We are extremely lucky to live only 5 minutes away from the train station! If using the train especially, we have to have our wits about us and Amber will usually be wearing reins,


due to her spontaneously and impulsiveness with running away from us. We are very lucky to have a family that fully supports Amber, Paul's step mum and sister will often come and collect us all and our heap of belongings so we can plan a holiday near to where they live in Taunton, Somerset.

Routine - Amber struggles when out of routine, her eating, bedtime, keeping her occupied and calm all needs to be taken into consideration. If we stay in a Bed and Breakfast, for example, we ring or email the owners and inform them of Amber's needs. When we stayed for a week in Taunton last August the owners were most understanding and placed us in a downstairs room right at the front for access and not upstairs where she would be running around and may be heard in the room below!

We take Amber's visual aids - photographs of actual objects and places such as the table for sitting and eating. If we're having a trip out during the holiday we use a 'Social Story' to go through what will happen during a trip to the beach. Again we are vigilant and as it's a strange place and experience we keep a close eye to ensure Amber's safety and use the reins where necessary.

Deciding on what do and where to go - every morning of the holiday we decide what is best to do in terms of whether Amber is in a good frame of mind, her attention span and whether a certain activity or visit will be likely to cause a 'Sensory Overload' and then a meltdown or extreme tantrum after. Some days we just did a lower level activity which we knew Amber would be familiar with like feeding the ducks or visiting a local park.

We always have a box of sensory toys on hand; Amber will often require some 'fiddle toys' on a car journey, for example. We will always ensure that she has her familiar teddy to have at bedtimes. If things do get too much one of us will always be prepared to take Amber back to where we are staying, even if just for an hour, to have calm down time.

Help on hand - it's not always possible to holiday somewhere with support other than your household. We haven't been away as yet with purely the 4 of us. We are extremely grateful to Paul's family for being there to support us with the children. Amber thoroughly enjoys seeing family also. If things are getting too much a family member will take Amber off for a short while and she will respond and return calmer, even if it is a short walk to a park or a walk along the sea front.

Future holiday plans: 
We hope to take that step to have our first holiday as a family of 4. We hope to go somewhere that has everything on site, such as the bigger holiday camps. We know that Amber will get so much out of this experience and it will take a great deal of forward planning but definitely worth it all!


Read more from Nicki and her family at Sensory Sensitive Mummy.

Family Fund provided Amber with a grant for Sensory toys and equipment from Learning SPACE and sessions at a local multi-sensory centre called SMILE (Sensation Movement Interaction in Life Experiences) at ARCOS (Association for Rehabilitation of Communication and Oral skills,) in Malvern, Worcestershire. "We have noticed a marked improvement in Amber's ability to cope with sensory overload, frustration and anger and will use the toys and equipment in her calm place."