A HOLIDAY WITH MELISSA is written by Moria Malseed, Disability Support Worker with Tulgeen and illustrates one of the many ways in which Tulgeen supports people with disability to achieve our mission to Enable A Good Life.
A Holiday with Melissa
A supported holiday for Melissa takes weeks of pre planning, particularly to ensure the choices made are as per her wishes, and sometimes that can be challenging.
So after some deliberation Melissa decided to go to back to Sydney; just like last year!
Choices of shows were shown on the internet and Melissa chose the New York Disney stage show Aladdin, the many shades of pink in stage and costume design left Melissa no other choice!
The flight to Sydney with a cup of tea and a snack was a highlight even though we had not reached our destination. Arrival at Sydney airport was a little amusing. At the baggage carousel when I grabbed my suitcase, Melissa said loudly “That’s not your bag!” Well, everyone turned around with a look of concern that perhaps I might be heading off with their bag!
After a long wait for an Opal Card to travel by public transport we were up and running. The reality of city life was starting to take a hold of Melissa as she watched the masses of people nearly run over her as she was standing in a thoroughfare. From plane to train and then a very slow and overpriced taxi, we arrived at the hotel in one piece. After a rushed late lunch near Darling Harbour, Melissa and I walked towards the main jetty. Melissa stopped under two bridges and she just listened. Her face said everything; her senses were in overload. “I can hear the cars” Melissa announced which reminded me of the sensitivity to sound and perception in the world of autism.
Having this time with Melissa without agendas, time frames and daily routine opens up a whole new perspective for Melissa. We were in Sydney with no schedule; what should we do? Next minute I caught a glimpse of the double decker Explorer Bus (a mimic of the London ones). I looked at Mel and said “would you like to go on that?” Her eyes lit up, then a long drawn yes came out and we rushed on before it took off.
Melissa was keen to go up to the top, but by the time we climbed the stairs and got to the top (which was full of tourists) the bus took off. Melissa went flying down to the back of the bus and landed in the back seat. Luckily no one was in the back seat! Then came the laughter. Mel laughed for at least 5 minutes; she was laughing so hard I could see the gums in her mouth. A good start for this unplanned adventure! We had all the elements; wind, sun, overcast and Sydney from two storeys.
The next day after breakfast on Darling Harbour where all the business people hang out, Melissa and I walked to the ferry at the end of the harbour. It was a supercat and a very enjoyable speed along the water to Circular Quay. We then hopped on the famous Manly Ferry to Manly. We enjoyed lots of walking around Manly and down beachfront. After a sunny day of walking and eating, it was back on the ferry with Melissa.
The main attraction for Melissa’s trip to Sydney was the stage show Aladdin at the Capitol Theatre. Certainly a feast for the eyes and especially for Melissa’s. Sitting up close to the stage with the hum of thousands of people and the sheer anticipation, the curtains opened.
Melissa sat on the edge of her seat and seemed to be mesmerised by the gold and pink backdrop and all the glitz and glam. Melissa had full focus on this extravaganza which was a feast for the eyes and the ears. Afterwards, a short walk home and the last sleep at the hotel in Darling Harbour. To Melissa’s regret , it was time to head home the next day. Another train trip, some lunch at the airport and then it was time to board. Back home at her parents Melissa stated she would be going for 5 days next time!!!
Text and photo credit: Moira Malseed