Introduction – Europe 2017

After our enormously successful road trip from UK to South Africa on a motorcycle and sidecar,  we are going to continue our travels intermittently on the motorbike as the school schedule allows with the continued agenda of raising awareness for Autism.

Our next journey is 8 weeks around Europe (including Russia) in the summer of 2017.  This is a challenge all of its own as not a single country speaks English as a main language, each country speaks a different language, and we are using the same motorbike that seems to find travelling long distances a challenge!  But luckily, passing through its country of birth might alleviate some of the issues faced.

(Update: feeling like we are not challenged enough – we are now swtiching to a solo bike BMW F650GS.  A whole new riding experience!)

When we set off on our journey  to Africa on the 14th November 2015, Sofia was 10 years old with high functioning autism that was inhibiting her ability to experience the world, make sense of the world, and to cope with the world around her.  She prone to frequent upsets, struggled to comprehend abstract concepts that we normally take for granted, and found social interaction, no matter how much she desired it, and persistent failure.

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Encouraging Sofia to look and see! – An enormous amount of effort was put into preparing Sofia for the trip to Africa, including basic skills like ‘looking and seeing’ which may seem obvious, but actually autistic people (large and small) don’t look and see their environment the way we do.  I didn’t want her to go the whole way through Africa and not see any game!  She never fully mastered the art of spotting game – it had to literally jump out in front of her to ‘spot it’, but she definitely started to see the world generally by the time we arrived in Ethiopia where the spectacular scenery didn’t even escape her notice!

After the 9 month experience from the UK, through North and East Africa and into Southern Africa, Sofia had transformed in her understanding of the world and her existence in it physically and emotionally, abstract concepts as they were applied in the real world, and social interaction ability, all of which has seen her confidence boosted and her ability to cope with day to day life increased exponentially.  She is still autistic, but it no longer feels limiting to her.

This is an amazing outcome and far exceeded my expectations!

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One of things the kept Sofia going was trying the many many different flavours of Fanta that are available, some only present in some countries and not in others, and most never seen in the UK  (that I’m aware of – I don’t normally buy soft drinks)  Before we set off on the trip I whenever she had a can of orange Fanta, I would tell her it tasted so much better out of a glass bottle and then someone told us about grape Fanta in South Africa, and so the Fanta experiment was born.  Small anchors like this helped her to remain engaged and feel safe on the journey because Fanta was something that connected her to home.

The best thing is that far from traumatised by the trip (this was a concern before we left, that I might have to stop early or that if we finished that she would never want to travel again), Sofia loves getting into the side car for a ride, and is keen to travel more, to see more of the world.

In discussing the plan for the summer of 2017, whilst she loved the idea of the USA being our next adventure, she preferred Europe regardless of the language issues, something she had really struggled with on our journey through Northern Africa.   I’m so proud of her.

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We were well met by everyone in Africa and with the persistent issues with bike we were overwhelmed by the generosity and help that we received!  Africa really rocked for us – Thank you Africans for making it truly a journey of a life time!

 

Funding

Our trip through Africa was part funded through donations and kit (thank you for the support!) and part self funded.

Our trip through Europe will again need to be part funded through donations and part self funded, and hopefully we will pick up some more kit!

Please help us by donating at the following link:  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1005498

Africa with Autism is a registered trust through Giving Works (Charity number: 1078770) who manage all the finances and expenditures

Other ways you can help:

Please like and share our Facebook Page!  the more followers we have the more chance we have of attracting corporate sponsors.     https://www.facebook.com/Africa-With-Autism-998778493470706/

Talk about us – the more people who know of our adventures is a plus for autism awareness!

 

Mother and Daughter Adventures

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