Traveling with a child with autism can be a challenging experience as disruptions are made to his or her normal routine. Several aspects of traveling, such as the unfamiliar noises and cramped seating, can leave your child feeling overwhelmed and result in behavioral issues. To help your child get through traveling as easily and safely as possible, here are some tips you can use.
Talk to Your Child
Once you are aware that you will be traveling with your child, start to talk to him or her about what will happen along the journey. By talking to your child, you are helping him or her to mentally and emotionally prepare for the experience.
During your discussions, walk your child through every aspect of traveling. For instance, if you are flying, discuss how you and your child will drive to the airport, be screened by security, and walk through the departure gate onto the airplane. Explain the sights and sounds that your child will encounter along the way.
Pack a Favorites Bag
Unless you will have access to your child's belongings the entire trip, you want to be sure you have a bag packed with his or her favorites in it. The bag can be filled with favorite snacks and toys. You can also include activities to help keep your child preoccupied, such as coloring books or a tablet.
In addition to that, you need to include items that can help avoid a sensory overload. For instance, noise cancelling headphones can be slipped on in noisy areas to lower the level of noise coming from other travelers.
Contact the Hotel and Transportation Service
Before you leave for your trip, contact the hotel and the transportation service you are using to discuss ways that staff can help make your family's travels easier. For instance, if you are flying with your child, you can request that your child be allowed to go through the check-in for people with disabilities. Your child could board the plane first, which would give you time to settle him or her before the other passengers board.
If you have any special needs for items in your hotel room that could be helpful in keeping your child calm, let the hotel staff know. For instance, ensuring that the room has a DVD player would enable your child to watch his or her favorite videos upon arrival.
Talk to a counselor about other ways you can help ease your child through the traveling experience. Your counselor might have some special tricks that are specific to your child that can be used.