Whether your family’s pleasure is a sandy beach or grassy park, or something in between, one thing is certain when traveling with kids…there are bound to be hiccups along the way. For autistic children, who thrive on set schedules and take comfort in places that are familiar, a vacation can be, well, downright stressful.
Here are five tips to make the trip more bearable for the whole family:
- Choose destinations wisely. Let your child help choose the trip then evaluate whatever challenges that visit might bring. Is there a lot of walking or hiking involved? Is swimming the main event? You know your child’s physical capabilities and limitations better than anyone, so if what they are eager to do sounds too challenging, work on gently steering him towards another option.
- Make arrangements early. Check with airlines, hotels and other venues before leaving about accommodations for autistic children. Many groups offer amenities for those with special needs, such as shorter wait times in lines or preferred seating.
- Travel with proper identification. Wandering is sadly the leading cause of death among autistic children. It can happen close to home, but even more so in an unfamiliar location. Have your child wear a medical bracelet or necklace with your contact information at all times while traveling. Or tie plastic, waterproof tags to their shoelaces or zipper.
- Pack accordingly. Along with the essentials (clothing, medications, etc.) remember to include his special things — a lovey, stuffed animal, book or toy — and plenty of items to keep him entertained and distracted from the stress of traveling such as movies and activity books.
- Build in breaks. Plan your vacation days to mirror your days at home. If you have lots of activity in the morning, followed by a quieter afternoon, do the same when traveling. The emotional stress of being in a new place is just as exhausting as the physical stress, so allow your child as many small breaks as they need to avoid a big breakdown.
Looking for more help to ease stress at the airport? Check out Wings for Autism/Wings for All. The unique program allows you to schedule a practice run at the airport prior to take off. Kids can ‘rehearse’ walking through security gates, checking baggage, boarding planes and crossing through the jetway. ABIA hopes to host an event later in 2017.
(Adapted from Parents.com)