Africa with Autism is a challenge first. It is mother and daughter travelling from the UK to South Africa on a motorbike with a side car. Not sticking to tarmac, but rather sticking to the route of highest interest and experience, so on road and off road alike.
The challenge is going to be on many levels so here is just a few of the most obvious ones:
1) Learning to ride a motorbike – be it on road or off road, Melanie has no real experience of a motorbike, however, whilst this might sound like a problem, most road motorcyclists would probably not be in any better position if they were attempting such a journey themselves. Melanie is a fast learner, with a practical sensibility which will see her through this experience regardless of the many problems that might be faced.
2) Planning – with only a year to plan such an adventure with such a high cost, leaving mid December will be a monumental challenge all of its own. The costs at £65k, will be of particular challenge in an economical environment of austerity.
3) Autism – Whilst Sofia is high functioning autism, she will still be subject to some generic issues that all autistic children face, including sensory, overwhelm, and inability to process and information outside of her own fear response. This challenge will be met by ensuring that she is prepared as much as possible for each of the scenarios she may experience and the confidence that she will be able to cope.
4) Physical fitness – From couch potatoes to athletes is a goal that both Melanie and Sofia will need to achieve before the trip. Even for the fittest, a journey like this can be exhausting.
5) Safety – The balance between safety and seeking experience will be a constant challenge of the trip. Whilst experiencing wild camping is wonderful, doing it in a game reserve near a hyena den may not be such a positive experience.
6) Media – it is important with a trip like this to generate media interest so that charities and sponsors get to benefit from it as well.