Now introducing the Dostal family! Meet Tabitha, Jason, Lillian, Jaylyn, Robby, Madalyn, and William, who is diagnosed with Smith Magenis Syndrome. The Dostal family teaches us that a life of travel and fun is possible even with a special needs diagnosis. Learn more about their family travels below!
We are the Dostal Family. Jason, Tabitha, Lillian (13), Jaylyn (12), Robby(10), Madalyn (9) and William our SMS'er is 5. Living with SMS definitely has its ups and downs. On the upside the love and affection William shows is awesome. Always wanting to give hugs and smiling. The downs, well we are always a light switch away from a meltdown. Quick distractions have always been a life saver in those situations.
Your family is special for so many reasons. We love that you travel all over the country despite your special needs diagnosis. How did you begin traveling as a family?
When it came to traveling we pretty much just dove right in. Our first trip with our Safety Sleeper was actually to Pittsburgh for the SMS Conference where we stayed in a hotel. From there, we began traveling to cabins or family members for overnights/weekends. Several hotel stays for hockey tournaments and most recently we added camping in a tent! While the bed is a life saver in all of those situations, when tenting we have found it hard to keep William quiet during that 4-6am hour when he's waking up rip roaring ready to go!!
Where is your favorite place to travel as a family and why?
Our favorite place to travel would be Northern Minnesota. We love the outdoors. We also loved our trip to North Dakota last year and are hoping to make another trip out there this year where we spend a week in the tent literally in the middle of nowhere. Spending time together swimming, fishing etc.
What is your favorite way to travel? Do you recommend this to other parents with special needs children?
We always drive when we travel. Its cheaper and more convenient for when travelling with all the kids. Plus we enjoy seeing all the sights when out on a road trip.
What is your advice for parents who are first traveling with their child with special needs?
First and foremost be patient! Traveling is already stressful and you can multiply that stress when special needs are involved. Make sure to give yourself extra time. As parents with special needs we never know what the next moment will bring. Make sure you have extra time to deal with any unexpected curveballs thrown your way.
And ALWAYS focus on the positive! Traveling should be fun. The more fun you can make it the better.
Why do you love to travel as a family?
I (Jason) grew up camping with my family and road tripping across the country. I want to be able to share those same memories and add more with our family. It is fun to travel and show the kids what else is out in the world and how much stuff there is to see.