Here are five tips from National Autism Network to help make summer vacations more fun for everyone – and many of these tips work, too, for family travel with no special needs child.
Plan Ahead – Call ahead to the hotel or resort where you are staying and check for any special accommodations they make for children with special needs, such as booking you on a low floor if your child doesn’t like elevators. If you are attending an amusement park, make your first stop the guest services booth, to get a special needs pass for your child. You may be asked for proof of ailment, so be sure to pack a physician’s note detailing your child’s disorder. The website WDWHints offers tips on visiting Walt Disney World with a special needs child, but the tips here apply to most theme parks. Of course, be sure to pack items your child may need, like headphones to drown out large crowd noise, or special snacks to accommodate any specific diet needs.
Take Sensory Breaks – It may help your child with autism, and your family as a whole, to build in mid-day breaks to wind down from the morning activities and to gear up for the night’s adventures. Your child may get overwhelmed spending too much time with crowds and loud noises regardless of the coping strategies you implement.
Every Member of the Family – Remember, this isn’t just your vacation, it belongs to everybody. Provide everybody in the family with a variety of different types of destinations and activities to make them happy. As a widowed single mother traveling with my daughter and son, I gave “equal time” and “equal choice” for visiting attractions and choosing restaurants – First Ladies inaugural gowns for her and Revolutionary War uniforms for him, at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., pizza for him one night and sushi for her another.
Cruising with Autism – If your family is searching for adventure on the high seas, look into Autism on the Seas, which assists the cruise industry in providing cruise vacations for individuals and families’ with special needs.
Autism in Flight – Several airlines now offer airplane simulations that allow your special needs child to experience aspect of flight without ever leaving the ground. The TSA has specific information for passengers with special needs, with specifics such as for passengers who don’t like being touched. Click here for the TSA information for passengers with Autism or intellectual disabilities.. There’s also an app,. The Smart Fish: Frequent Flyer offers another way of introducing any young child, to the airport and airplane experience. Click here to download from the iTunes store.
National Autism Network was founded with the mission to be the largest online resource for the autism community and provide the most comprehensive information and news related to Autism. The site includes a provider directory, discussion forums, events calendar, social community, hundreds of autism resources and more.
And remember, many of these tips work, too, for travel with children, especially very young children, without special needs.