Planning a vacation when you have a child with Autism can be a challenging endeavor.
Some families worry about how the disruption of day-to-day routines might impact their child. In addition, some families may find it difficult to assist their child in adapting, which can lead to a very stressful outcome for the child and the family. With a bit of preparation and flexibility, it is possible to create a scenario where everyone can have a relaxing and enjoyable time.
Here are a few suggestions that may help you and your child.
1. As you are in the planning stage, let your child know what will be happening before, during, and after the trip. Walk through the steps of the vacation from packing for the trip to mapping out a route to your final destination. Discuss what the trip will entail and allow for feedback and questions that might help the child better cope while on the road.
2. Be aware of things that trigger your child and know if any of those things might be encountered at the final destination. If there will be large gatherings, potential for crowds, loud sounds, or bright lights that might affect your child’s sensory sensitivities, make note of them ahead of time. In knowing what you might encounter, it is possible to discuss ways in which to avoid or respond to the issues before they become a problem.
3. Find a way to keep the family involved in family fun time. There are potentially going to be situations that will not be comfortable for your child. Make arrangements ahead of time for the rest of the family so that everyone is able to participate in the activities that work for them, while tending to your child’s special needs as well.
4. If you child has verbal acuity, engage him or her in a conversation prior to each day’s events and discuss ways in which he can communicate with you to let you know that he is becoming overwhelmed.
5. Set appropriate levels of expectation. Don’t stress out your child or yourself by trying to make a situation work if it is not working.
6. Keep things simple and easy. As much as you are able to stick to a routine, do so. However, if that routine is not working for you and your child, then revise and revisit the best way to make it work for both