Skiing in the Northeast
We decided we needed to do something during the long winters. Although we managed to escape for a week or so to a warm destination, finding an activity in the winter became important not just for our autistic son but for the whole family. As always we thought a lot about this and set goals:
1) Ski destination had to be within a 4 hour drive from home
2) Ski instructors had to be trained and/or willing to work with an autistic child
3) The mountain needed to be interesting and challenging for the entire family
4) Accommodations need to suit a family of 5 (plus a dog!)
Ok, the pet part might not be on your list, it is on ours and in most cases we found that ski communities are “pet friendly”. We started our search 6 years ago. We found a place called Quechee Lakes in Quechee, Vermont.
Quechee is a small town in southern Vermont, and is about a 15 minute drive east of Woodstock, Vermont. Our initial trip to Quechee was during a “fall foliage” weekend in October. We contacted a local real estate office and reviewed weekend rental opportunities. We rented a 3 bedroom condo at the top of the ski hill.
The 3 bedroom condo was perfect for a family of 5 and could easily have accommodated more given the bed set up. Views over the ski hill and the lower valley and lake were just beautiful and very calming. It was during this trip that we decided to return in February to try skiing. (Note: we used www.carefreequecheevacations.com for our rental search; once at Quechee you could also inquire at the local real estate offices regarding rentals and/or purchases.)
It was during the February trip that we decided that Quechee was going to be our winter destination. We experienced first hand ski instructors who were not only trained to work with autistic children, but who were enthusiastic about it. We learned that most of the instructors at Quechee are or have been at one time, teachers in a variety of areas, including special education. It was wonderful watching our son spend time on the “bunny” hill learning how to ski.
Now 6 years later, he is able to ski from the top of the ski hill and use the chair-lift, with an instructor of course! It is the highlight of his day, cruising down the hill while the instructor skis backwards in front of him giving our son both verbal commands and hand signals to safely guide him down the hill.
Quechee isn’t a large hill, but there is something for everyone. It is certainly a great place to start if you have not tried skiing as a winter activity. For more information about Quechee and the facilities go to www.QuecheeClub.com
If your family needs a more challenging ski hill, Killington Mountain is about a 30 minute drive west of Quechee; www.Killington.com
And Okemo Mountain is about the same distance but south west of Quechee
We have not used the ski instructors at these two mountains yet. We plan on investigating them this winter and will update the site with more info.