Autism & Traveling
By Michelle Ibarra | April 14, 2019
Most parents know that traveling with toddlers and children can be challenging because children can get tired and stressed out with all the routine changes.
Now for parents in the spectrum, the challenges go to a whole new level. Sensory overloads, crowded places, different meals, and even changes in the schedule can represent huge stress factors for children with autism. However, it is possible to ease traveling with the help of our following recommendations.
Tips To Ease Traveling For ASD Families
1.- Practice, Practice, Practice: Children on the spectrum require preparation for changes in their schedule. If you are visiting family members, making a photo album with their pictures in it is a great way to get your child involved with new family faces and names. If you are traveling to the beach or to a place that they have never been making sure to show them videos and pictures of the place that they are going to. Practice the activities that you can, and even the clothes that they will wear so he/she can have an even more realistic experience.
2.- Contact The Service: Call ahead to contact the places that you will visit and let them know about your child’s condition. In many airlines, you can be offered special services such as sitting together as a family and sometimes leaving an empty seat on the side. The airline can also provide special food, and even boarding facilities to avoid crowds(for more information in this regard you can watch the video here). In parks like Disneyland, they offer a special fast pass for ASD children that enables them to enjoy the rides without getting in lines, thus facilitating your experience.
3.- Pack Familiar Items: Bringing known items such as special pillows, toys, and even blankets can make your child’s experience less stressful. Autistic children can be sensitive to different textures, so bringing his/her items can be really helpful to ease anxiety. Also, asking them to pack their preferred toys is a good way to include them in the preparation of the trip, which makes them feel included and responsible.
4.-Prepare for Sensory Emergencies: Pack a pair of noise-canceling earplugs to avoid stress caused by noises. Bringing a fully charged iPad is also a good idea for your child to be entertained during waiting times or downtime periods. Additionally, make sure to pack your child’s favorite healthy snacks to avoid crankiness.
5.- Set The Environment: Ask for a room in a corner or in a quiet space to ensure your child’s rest. Also, asking for a refrigerator can be a good idea to keep healthy snacks and special meals handy.
6.- Maintain Routines: Autistic children are all about routines and the disruption of those can represent a stress factor. Try to maintain their usual routine as much as possible; eat meals at the same time that you do at home if you have a special time to play try to respect it, and go to bed at the same hour. This simple routine maintenance can be really helpful when it comes to visiting new places and avoiding the stress of it.
7.-Positive Reinforcement: Instead of nagging your child for the things that he/she might do wrong, make the conscious decision to reward them for the things that they do right. Celebrate each accomplishment (no matter how small) with something that can be a significant reward for your child (It does not need to be something expensive). Words of affirmation and physical touch can be great incentives too. Visit our blog post Reward Good Behavior, Ignore Bad! to find all about positive reinforcement.
Remember, vacations are a beautiful time to build great memories that will last a lifetime. Do not worry if some things don’t go as planned, but focus on the incredible things that this can mean for your child and celebrate the present moments.
At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with Stem Cell Therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation and improving brain function. We also created an autistic community on Facebook that is destined to offer support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.
Remember, you are not alone!
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