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  • Writer's pictureSarah Lewis, M.Ed., BCBA

Traveling 101

Summer is here, which means vacation season is upon us! Traveling with children can be a challenging experience, and for parents of children with autism, the added sensory and behavioral concerns can make vacation planning seem overwhelming. However, with a little extra preparation and a focus on fun and relaxation, traveling with your child with autism can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for the whole family. Here are some tips to make your vacation fun and actually relaxing:

Planning vacation with kids with autism

Plan ahead

Start planning your trip well in advance, and involve your child in the planning process as much as possible. This can help reduce anxiety and build excitement for the upcoming trip. Research your destination and make a list of potential activities and attractions that your child might enjoy. Make sure to also research the accessibility of the location and any accommodations that may be necessary.

Keeping kids on a routine on vacation

Keep routines in place

Routines are important for children with autism, so try to maintain as much consistency as possible during your travels. Stick to regular meal times and bedtimes, and bring familiar items such as favorite toys, blankets, and books to help your child feel comfortable.

Vacationing with a kid with autism and sensory needs

Prepare for sensory concerns

Travel can be overwhelming for children with autism, so be prepared to address sensory concerns. Consider bringing noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, or a weighted blanket to help your child feel more comfortable in new and potentially overstimulating environments.

Helping a child with autism to relax

Plan downtime

Vacations can be hectic, so make sure to plan for downtime and relaxation. Consider staying in a hotel with a pool or spending time at the beach to allow for rest and relaxation. Bringing familiar games, books, or toys can also help your child decompress and unwind.

Being flexible with special needs children

Be flexible

Despite your best efforts, unexpected situations may arise during your travels. Try to stay flexible and adaptable to changes in plans, and don't be afraid to take a break or step away from a challenging situation.

Celebrating small victories with children with autism

Celebrate the small victories

Traveling with a child with autism can be a challenging experience, but it's important to celebrate the small victories along the way. Whether it's successfully navigating a crowded airport or trying a new food, take time to recognize and celebrate these accomplishments.

Remember, vacation should be a time for fun and relaxation, so don't be afraid to enjoy yourself and let loose. With some preparation and a focus on fun, traveling with your child with autism can be a memorable and enjoyable experience for the whole family.

Disclaimer: this post does not contain treatment recommendations as a professional relationship has not been established. For children whom the Autism Center has not directly observed, there is not enough information to make any specific treatment recommendation as treatment recommendations would be based on a subjective report of the child’s behavior. Please contact us if you have any questions.

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