Traveling is stressful regardless of whether or not you have autism. Not only does it require you to transition through dozens of activities in a single day, but you’re also surrounded by strangers and noise and made uncomfortable by taking off your shoes or sitting in uncomfortable seats for extended periods of time.
For a kid with autism, it doesn’t matter how good the vacation is; travel can be a nightmare. If you want to make this easier on them and help them look forward to trips, these are the best things you can do.
Plan Ahead Thoroughly
Planning is vital so that you don’t run into any surprises for you or your child. Children with autism have difficulty with unexpected changes to their schedules or plans that didn’t work out. Because of this, it’s vital that you plan ahead and work to keep things going smoothly from the sidelines.
You can do this by pre-booking hotel rooms, renting a car instead of Ubering around so you can control where you go and when, and sticking to the same meal times you had when you were at home. Although this can feel like a lot, it’s just enough to accommodate their needs.
Take Scheduled Breaks
Schedule breaks throughout your day for them to enjoy water, and possibly take in some music or some quiet space before and after stressful activities. Scheduled breaks give them a moment they can look forward to and give you the chance to slow things down with them. Communicate when these breaks will be and what you’ll do during them throughout the day. Not only will this build confidence in your planning, but your child also will be less stressed when they know there’s an out.
Pay Attention to Body Language
One of the best things an ABA therapy clinic can teach you is how to recognize when your child may be heading towards a meltdown or fit. If your child suddenly gets really quiet or really active and shows signs that you recognize often happen right before a meltdown, it’s important that you work to get them either out of that area or down off of that energy. One important tool all parents of children with autism should keep in their bags is noise-canceling headphones. These block out the outside world and allow your child to listen to things from a distance while their energy reaches a more comfortable level.
Help Them Before and After
The final thing you should do is work with your child before and after so they know they’re loved and appreciated. Talk to them about what will happen and what has happened, and listen to their concerns. Make the purpose of the trip clear, and help them see how working together on this could make the trip easier for everyone involved.
Travel Can Be Rough for Anyone
Vacations and traveling should be fun! Work with your child with autism, and show them the different ways they can diminish the overwhelming feelings and enjoy the trip.