Traveling with Autism

Traveling with Autism

For families with autistic children, travel can be a daunting prospect. Many families choose not to go on vacations or take trips because they believe the disruptions in routine are too much stress to handle. Luckily, there are many resources today that alleviate the pressure that parents in this situation face, and allow autistic children to enjoy vacations in new places. Here are some tips and resources if you’re looking to travel with an autistic child.

  1. Before you plan your trip, check out the website of Autism Travel, a non-profit dedicated to helping families with autistic children travel comfortably. They have tons of useful resources and advice, including a free ebook.
  2. Talk to your child and include him or her in the decision process. If you decide where you are going without their input, you are much more likely to meet resistance. Try to brainstorm a few vacation ideas that would appeal to your child’s unique hobbies, and teach him or her how to evaluate them. The pros and cons process of choosing a vacation spot will invest your child in the planning of the vacation and help to build the excitement.
  3. Practice with a small getaway first. Don’t travel too far on your first outing, because it could easily be overwhelming. Try camping nearby or taking a weekend trip to a nearby city.
  4. Get creative with ways to make the journey just as fun as the vacation itself. Transportation can easily be the most stressful part of travel with autistic (or not autistic!) children. Get movies or games to occupy your child, and consider taking a mode of transportation that can be entertaining and distracting. Train trips are great because the novelty of the train is exciting and it frees up your attention from the road.
  5. Plan plan plan. The most important part of the vacation is preparation, and anticipating any issues that may arise. Keep your child in the loop and make sure they are prepared for any situations that may involve some ambiguity or flexibility. Talk to guest services at your destination and think about any accommodations that may make the vacation more stress-free for you. Chances are, they will be happy to fulfill any needs.

Traveling with children can be stressful, and traveling with a child with autism can be even more so. But it’s important not to miss out on experiences with your child because of it. With proper planning, your family can have a dream vacation.