TRAVELLING WITH YOUR AUTISTIC KID
One of the best things life has to offer is the idea of travelling together with your family. May it be a local tourist spot or a long-planned international destination, travelling to new places and being immersed into a new culture and its people is best experienced when you’re touring with your loved ones. But as much as we would like to take a memorable trip together with our whole family, many real-life situations can make this plan hard to accomplish. Many parents of autistic kids are confronted by this very problem, which becomes harder to deal with when they are not experienced and educated enough to deal with autism-related issues that their kid’s condition would bring about. Autistic children require special attention and care, as their needs and want also different to that of their neurotypical counterparts.
Many autism-related issues would discourage travelling especially in cases of young ones because their symptoms and condition may worsen due to the variables that they might encounter along the trip. When exposed to overwhelming situations such as noisy streets, crowded parks, and places illuminated with bright lights, autistic individuals can have very adverse responses. This limits the whole family’s list of activities that every member can join and experience, and ultimately decreases the quality of life of many families with an autistic child. Although bringing your autistic child with you on a trip is a challenging task to accomplish, it is not entirely impossible to do, especially with the help of the following travel tips.
Choose Your Travel Destination According To Your Child’s Needs and Wants
Many parents fail at this part simply because they generalize every travel destination as enjoyable for the whole family, even though their autistic child may react differently. To be able to let your child enjoy the travel, you have to prioritize their wants and needs in deciding where to go. If your child is an animal lover, you can take the whole family to the zoo, an eco-tourism park, or an open farm where they can interact with animals. If your child likes to play with water during their bath time or loves to stay in the sandbox during their playtime, the beach, water park, an island resort are the ideal places to visit. You should realize that the point of the trip is to guarantee that your autistic child enjoys it, as the other neurotypical family members can adapt easily to the travel plan and think of their own ways to enjoy the trip.
It is also encouraged that you choose travel destinations that won’t require you to plan extensively because your autistic child can easily sense your tension when you get stressed out from making all the necessary preparations, and may respond to it in a manner which you might see as interference to the plan. If you are packing up things, it’s better that you don’t let your child see you do it, and try your best not to get too anxious while checking other necessary preparations.
Bring Necessary Identifications
One of the greatest risks of bringing a child with you on a trip is the possibility that they’d wander off and get lost. Neurotypical kids have a higher chance of getting found or coming back to their parents because they can supply the necessary information to other people or authorities. When it comes to cases of lost autistic children, especially nonverbal ones, the chances go down drastically. That is why if you are not confident that you’ll have your eyes on your child for the whole duration of the trip and you don’t have the trendy tracking device to help find your kid in case they’d go astray, it is imperative that you put necessary identifiers on their outfit that can help people recognize them and contact you.
You can let them wear sensory jewellery such as a chewable necklace or bracelet with name tags or your contact number on them. If your child doesn’t want to wear any accessory, you can try placing a personal information card in their pocket which includes their name, autism condition, potential allergens, and your contact number. You can also have your child’s shirt printed with a well-known autism logo with basic personal information in the back of it so people can easily recognize your child’s condition and become more eager to help.
Make Sure You’ve Packed Everything That Your Child Will Need
Autistic children have special needs to be addressed that cannot be delayed if you want a worry-free travel experience with the whole family. This includes a handful of things that can give them the necessary distraction, or calm them down if they’re on the verge of a meltdown. You can never leave behind your child’s favourite toys as it serves as their self-extension which helps reduce anxiety. Gadgets such as MP3 players, iPad, and tablet are also included in the list of must-bring, where they can play games and music, and watch movies. Sensory tools such as pressure jackets, headphones, stress balls, and sunglasses must also be included inside the luggage. If your child strictly follows routine activities such as potty training, book reading, and snacking, you also have to bring the necessary things that can prevent your child from breaking these routines such as diapers, books, and goodies.
Help Your Child Get Familiarized with the Travel Experience
Preparation for the trip must also include building your child’s expectations for the travel. It is important that you give your kid a visual idea about what they can do and enjoy on the trip so that they won’t get overwhelmed by the things and situations that they will encounter. Telling travel scenarios and showing pictures to your child will help a lot in getting them familiarized. You should also start developing a set of routines specific for the trip even weeks before the travel date to get your child accustomed to certain schedules and prevent an unwanted meltdown in the middle of the trip.