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Independent backpacking?

(4 Posts)
madwomanbackintheattic Wed 29-Apr-15 18:15:28

Friend's dss has announced his intention of taking a backpacking trip. Backpack ready, money in bank, and apparently intends to leave in the very near future.

DSS is around 19/20 (not exactly sure), HFA, and by her account has never so much as ridden public transit independently, but is adamant he is off. She is v concerned that he is going to get himself into all manner of situations as he is not good at reading people/ social situations, and is likely to get into cars he shouldn't hitch hiking etc.

DSS wants to do it to make his dad proud of him (dad is very outdoorsy etc)

Friend is on the other side of the country to him, and his mum is beside herself.

In these sort of situations, I strongly believe that people should not be told they can't do x, y or z because of their different abilities, but that we should be seeking out ways that they can achieve what they want to do safely... But I think my friend wants me to agree that he must be stopped at all costs...

Any ideas? my first thought was to suggest a buddy/ travel partner (he has a brother that if it were my son I would be leaning on - although I get all the reasons why the NT brother shouldn't have to step up too) but does anyone have any ideas that I can suggest as to how to make this a safe possibility?

My heart says this young adult is in desperate need of independence (with parameters) but obviously i haven't raised him, and they know him best. I just don't know where you stand with vulnerable 'adults' and control of their actions. He works etc, and was planning to come and stay with his dad and stepmom this summer and work here. He seems to have just decided he wants to make this stand and is adamant he is going...

blankgaze Sun 03-May-15 18:29:46

Just a few random thoughts, I would be horrified and desperately concerned for his safety if I was in his step/mum's shoes.

What about his job, will they keep it open for him?

I think a travel buddy is a great idea and would insist on it, but first he needs to be much more independent just in case that goes wrong and he's stranded somewhere.

Due to the lack of time before he takes the plunge, why doesn't she give him short sharp lessons on independence, say one every other night, setting him goals and see how he copes.
First, take him to the local bus depot and ask him where he wants to go and how he thinks he can achieve that as opposed to the reality of being able to do it. Show him how to buy a ticket, go with him for the journey, but sit where you can observe him, not next to him, show him how to get off at the right stop in a strange place, then how to find his way to safe overnight accommodation.

Another night, do that at the train station, similar exercise.

I appreciate that this won't be cheap even over short distances but he has to be made aware of the outside world and its pitfalls before he goes off into the unknown with his eyes wide shut.

Commonsense things like not flashing cash or cards or expensive phone.

Drive through some dodgy areas and ask him to give you his opinions and make sure he knows he is likely to come to harm if he's wandering around those on his own. Not all people are approachable, not all people will help.

Lessons on how not to look conspicuously out of place in a strange location will help.

How does he plan on feeding himself and obtaining shelter during this trip?

Is he also planning to travel abroad, because that's a whole other level of things to cope with.

She has to put him in difficult positions, like a strange place, he's been mugged and his phone and money have been stolen, what does he need to do, how can he find help, how can he know offers of help from people who want to exploit him further.

Failing all of that, could his Father come over to where he is and they could do the trip together, make it an adventure that they could share?

madwomanbackintheattic Mon 04-May-15 00:36:56

Thanks, blank. Dad has just started a new job and isn't keen to go back to sort. Mum is a functioning alcoholic and I can't see her facilitating any of those brilliant ideas, although it's probably the sort of thing I would be doing. The dss is still at home at the moment, but is still planning to head out.

He was always planning to leave his job next month and fly here (in fact his ticket was already booked and paid for by dad and stepmum) and he was going to get a new job here (he had spent the summer here before a couple of years ago and worked, and we live somewhere with a high seasonal job availability and he knows he can pick up a job here relatively easily). This is sort of what I can't quite work out - stepmum says it would all be a disaster and he couldn't cope, but to my knowledge he has flown backwards and forwards a few times on his own. Everyone seems to be just discounting his idea in total, rather than any consideration as to how he could learn skills or consider the options. But as I say, they know him best - I have met him a couple of times when he was visiting, but that's all.

I spent an hour or so with my friend and dh today - they have now cancelled the dss's plane ticket, and if he decides he does want to fly here, he has to pay the admin costs to get it reinstated. Basically said he is an idiot to have spent a load of money on backpacking gear that he doesn't know how to use, and they are fed up of having to sort his life out for him, so aren't. His brother has just returned from working in Aus for a year and is staying with stepmum and his dad for 6 months before returning to Aus to get married (waiting for visa) but is enjoying himself getting drunk and staying out all night, and doesn't seem to be much interested in what his bro wants to do, other than eye rolling at the idea.

I am a bit baffled. The dad is an avid mountaineer, with a whole store of backpacking gear. And frequently disappears off for trips. He used to take them all camping as kids and early teens. But seems completely against facilitating anything of the sort at this point, for a kid who has said he wants to do it to make his dad proud of him. It's a whole family dynamic that I can't get my head round, and perhaps it's best I don't - it is of course quite plausible that the dad knows full well the ds wouldn't cope, and so won't countenance the idea at all (but if he was my dh I'd be suggesting he took a month off to facilitate lol).

He wasn't planning on leaving the country (as an aside, we are all in Canada, not UK, so plenty of country here to explore!) and is 6'5", so I'm not sure he could look inconspicuous if he tried, lol. And it sounds as though he has a whole backpack full of tent and cooking stuff, and was planning on camping and self-catering.... I have no idea where he stands on that sort of technical knowledge.

I think I have to just back off and let her vent. I started the thread thinking she would be open to ideas, but any that I've suggested so far in response to her talking about it have been totally ignored. So I guess she just wants to blow off steam.

I can't help but feel that it would be great for the kid at some level, but I get that it's none of my business, and it doesn't seem that anyone is willing to put the time in to make it a safer possibility. I don't really know what's going to happen - in theory he is just going to up and leave at some point, and everyone will rant and be terribly worried, but seem to have decided they have no other option and probably can't stop him...

madwomanbackintheattic Mon 04-May-15 01:00:19

<and I wanted to say that I totally get the terrified stance. Dd2 has cp, and the whole thing has weirdly come at a time when I will need to be facilitating her backpacking in a year or two - she is only 11, but we spend a lot of energy working out how she can do stuff, so I guess we are just in a different place. Maybe by 19 we will have written the possibility off too. The idea would be scary enough in a NT kid - in a kid with sn, even more terrifying.>

Thanks for your suggestions. I think we are on the same wavelength as to the sort of things that could be used to at least see if it could work.

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