Dawn M. Barclay’s “Travelling Different”
Dawn M. Barclay’s new book is titled Travelling Different: Vacation Strategies for Parents of the Anxious, the Inflexible, and the Neurodiverse. The title effectively covers the entirety of the topicality, not just in terms of essentially serving as something like a thesis statement, or summarization. It also in terms of tonality reflects the warm, humane, maternal instinct throughout the presentation and the text itself, demonstrating Barclay’s ease and efficiency with the subject matter on what seems to be as much a professional, as personal level. She writes with a candor and wit that is often absent from parental advice, psychology, and self-help reads of this nature.
Many of these books become prisoner to the schematics, data, and overall statistical analyses that determine the christened ‘developmental milestones’, societal interaction Richter scales, and character trait goals one wants in a healthy, well-adjusted child. If anything, in the spirit of postmodernist books in this echelon (think the warm, excellent Following Ezra) Barclay’s book toasts neurodivergence. It celebrates differences. It shows, most importantly, that said differences need not take away from being able to do fun, inspiring, and even – dare one say it – challenging things as a family, whether or not one happens to be a parent to a child who is designed ‘neurodivergent.’
The read serves as something of a literary roadmap, as well as something of a reference guide. It highlights specific methodology, industry, and opportunity to buffer neurodivergent children’s needs – while also discussing elaborate behavioral interventions, approaches, and home therapies one can instill to keep things happy, fluid, and manageable for everyone involved. This naturally makes me circle back to my aforementioned description of Barclay’s tonality traits. The fact she’s so personable in the way she presents this material is likely due to the fact, courtesy of her preface, that it is personal. “(My) privileged life (travelling) came to a screeching halt when I gave birth to two ‘challenging’ children, about three years apart.
Still, I was determined not to let their difficulties stand in my way of introducing them to the world of travel I loved so deeply. Believing there’s a book to handle any crisis in life, I searched for a guide to help me tackle issues like children bawling uncontrollably as soon as they entered Galleries Lafayette, refusing to stay in their highchair at any restaurant, and vomiting all over my silk blouse right before takeoff when returning from the Caribbean,” she states unsparingly. “In the end, we did work out our own solutions and ultimately survived, though it didn’t hurt that the ‘challenging’ kids finally grew into less-challenging young adults.
But it does explain how I came up with the concept for this book…(Travelling Different) was only possible because of those travel advisors and the parents with children on the spectrum who poured out their hearts and revealed their secret travel sauce during the hours I spent interviewing them. I owe a similar debt of gratitude to the leaders of associations and organizations like IBCCES, TravelAbility, and the Family Travel Association, who provided additional information, and mental health professionals such as Dr. Ellen Littman, Dr. Tony Attwood, and Janeen Herskovitz, who graciously shared their expertise.”
This kind of generosity of spirit and honesty makes the book elevated above its literary peers. It makes it even more gratifying as a literary experience, detailing its elixir to a specific stagnation.