Spring is officially in full bloom and, with summer around the corner, your family may be planning for some much needed vacation time. Going on a vacation and traveling can be a great way to experience new places with your loved ones. If you have a child with autism, they thrive on set schedules and routine, so traveling can be a major upset. We have some tips to help you overcome challenges that you and your loved one may face, so you can share in these new experiences!
Planning with Your Child with ASD In-Mind
Before you book your flights or start highlighting a roadmap, consider your child with autism and his/her interests and limitations. If your child is particularly interested in sea animals, going to the beach could be a more ideal vacation than hiking around the woods. Maybe your child has difficulty being around a lot of noise; this helps you eliminate vacation spots that could be stressful for your child. Instead, you can go to a quiet resort, or even try visiting family in another state. Try to include your little one in the planning process, and ask him/her what they would like to do. The destination that you choose for your family can really affect the overall experience, especially for your child with ASD.
Role Playing and Visual Support
Any upset in the daily routine can be stressful and upsetting to a child with autism. To help prepare your loved one for traveling, try role playing, so he/she can process what traveling may be like. Visual storyboards can also help your child better prepare for your vacation. Try to think of every step of your traveling from your child’s perspective to help plan what you should prepare him/her for. If you are driving in your vehicle for a number of hours/days, you should consider all the stops along the way and prepare your child for that type of journey. Walk them through the packing, loading, sitting, stopping for food/gas, hotels, and arrival with visuals. You may be able to find picture books at your local library that show this type of traveling for children. We suggest reading these with your child and sharing that process.
Pre-Plan for Your Child’s Needs
Since you will be traveling to a new location, you can anticipate the changes that your child will experience in the new environment. Plan for your child’s needs. If your loved one typically needs a quiet space or comfort area, try to have a similar location setup ahead of time. Bring any comfort toys, blankets, or objects that your child with ASD uses at home.
If you are flying, consider boarding the flight first, or you may want to wait until everyone else has boarded. Depending on what triggers your child’s outbursts and stress, you can work to accommodate his/her needs.
Traveling to a new environment has a whole new set of excitements and potential dangers. Keeping our loved ones safe is so important. If your child with ASD has difficulties communicating or are nonverbal, a medical bracelet or identification necklace can help share your little one’s diagnosis in the case of an emergency. Some children with autism cannot tolerate wearing jewelry, in this case, a zipper pull is a great tool for sharing important identification information.
You should communicate any potential dangers or stressors that your child may face on this trip, like meeting new people or being approached by strangers. Give your loved one the tools that he/she needs to stay safe.
For a parent of autism, the prospect of traveling can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right plan of action, you can make your family vacation a success. Taking a trip with your family can be an exciting way to explore the world together and build new memories.
If you’re family is moving to a new home, check out our post, “Tips to Help Your Child with Autism Move Homes.”
At Hidden Treasures, we use ABA therapy services that are highly effective. Curious? Contact our team TODAY!