Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify around 1 in 68 American children as on the autism spectrum. Traveling with a child with autism comes with its own unique set of challenges. For example, many children with autism do not like loud noises, so going to a theme park or crowded beach with screaming children could become a problem.
Children with autism also prefer the comforts of home and some of their favorite items. Being exposed to hotel accommodations that they aren’t familiar with or even stopping at rest stops that are obviously not their home accommodations can make things difficult.
Some children with autism do not understand that they must wait in line at airport security check points. Some also do not eat some of the foods at restaurants because they have food aversions or sensitivities. How do you handle all of this while you are traveling? Some parents just give up and do not travel, but that’s not necessary.
Traveling with a child with autism takes planning and sensitivity. For example, if you still want to go to an amusement park, then consider purchasing passes or wristbands that allow you to skip lines and, at the same time, remove yourself from all of the people around you. The child can then go directly on the ride, reducing stress and sensory overload.
Make sure that you bring some of their favorite snacks and comforts from home. For example, if your child must have a granola bar every day, make sure to pack enough to get through the trip or find out if you can purchase some where you are going. Pack their favorite stuffed teddy bear, piece of clothing or blanket too.
Look for a resort that caters to children with autism. For example, TradeWinds Island Resort has a safety autism kit that they present to parents when they sign in. Ask your resorts what they do for children who have autism.
Talk to your child before you go. Some children will understand that they will be on the road or on a plane and that things will be different. For some, it’s better than surprising them with changes.
For more information and tips on traveling with a child who has autism, visit the Autism Speaks organization website at https://www.autismspeaks.org/
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