Vacationing Tips for Parents with Autistic Children

June 16, 2015

Summer vacation is almost here and most of us are dreaming of a relaxing getaway to unwind from our busy, stressful lives.  Maybe your dream includes the beach or the mountains.  Regardless of where you want to go , a lot of planning is required.  Planning a vacation with children can be daunting, but planning a vacation with a child with special needs requires advanced organization and research into the venue and the travel method.  While many parents with autistic children (or children on the spectrum) avoid travel and vacationing away from the comfort and routine that their child has become accustomed, but traveling with kids who have autism is possible and doesn’t have to be disastrous.  Here are a few tips and resources to help you plan your next vacation.

  • Choose a destination that matches your child’s personality – Vacations mean a new location, change and transitions.  None of these things come easily for children on the spectrum.  Therefore, choose a location that matches your child.  Does your child love to swim and be in the sun?  The beach may be the best solution.  Does your child enjoy action like rides and games?  Maybe an amusement park or gaming area might be a good idea.  Does your child enjoy being outdoors?  Hiking and camping might be a good fit.  You know your child the best so choose wisely.
  • Make arrangements ahead of time – Many hotels, airlines, restaurants, and amusement parks can help you make special arrangements to make your trip easier.  These places are often amenable to the needs of children with autism. For example, in 2011, Logan Airport in Boston hosted a free rehearsal flying experience, called Wings for Autism, for children with autism and their families so that personnel can better understand the community. (Source: Parents Magazine)
  • Practice and Prepare – Discuss what will happen during the vacation. Many Books can help you prepare with your child.

Suzie Goes on an Aeroplane by Charlotte Olson is an excellent book to help your child what happens at an airport.

Traveling Tips for Families with an Autistic Child by Chantal Sicile-Kira

3 Things to Know Before you Close your Suitcase: Preparing for Traveling
with a Child with Autism  by Earl J. Campazzi, Jr, MD, MPH

Starbrite Traveler: A Travel Resource for Parents of Children with Special Needs by Jessemine Jones and Ida Keiper

USA Today: Flying can be a rough ride for autistic children, families
NY Times: Bypassing the Roadblocks of Autism
Taking the Kids When They Have Autism