According to the CDC, the rates of autism diagnoses have been steadily rising in the past fifteen years. Autism touches so many families – both children and their parents. With the wide variety of autism characteristics, it can make family travel seem difficult or daunting.
But it doesn’t have to be, says Amy Flores-Young, a Certified Autism Travel Professional (CATP). With her years of experience planning travel that accommodates all types of disabilities, Amy says you can have that dream vacation, no matter what your family’s needs, with the right kind of planning. Here are Amy’s Top 5 Tips for planning the perfect family vacation that includes travelers with autism.
Top 5 Tips for Traveling with Autism
Practice your social stories
In preparation for your trip, Amy recommends showing your child through “social stories” what the day to day will be like on vacation. Here you can review the schedule of the day, what they can expect, what situations may arise, and how they can respond.
Give vacation clothes a trial run
If you’re attending a fancy event, going to a different climate, or going on any other trip where the attire may be outside of normal daily wear, then Amy recommends trying on those vacation outfits ahead of time. This gives your child a chance to get used to how they look and feel, and you’ll have the opportunity to make any adjustments ahead of time.
Bring Your Own Pillows and Linens
This is Amy’s simple trick to help everyone get the best sleep, especially those with sensory issues, or have difficulty with change. Waking up fresh and on the right foot can make all the difference in how the day goes!
Pack their favorite cup while you’re at it. Most families prefer to “travel light” if at all possible, but having familiar objects can be soothing. A favorite cup is lightweight, and can easily be filled with water or other liquids once you are through airport security.
Reframe your dream vacation
Family travel is more about creating priceless memories than it is going to an exact destination. Maybe you’ve always dreamed about amusement parks and fireworks, but that may not work for everyone in your family. Take a moment to reframe your vacation. Is there somewhere else that may be less stimulating but that everyone can enjoy?
Keep your existing routine in mind when planning your travel itinerary
When Amy is working with travelers with autism or sensory issues, she reviews their current routine at home. When is the traveler’s best time of day? Does the traveler need a certain amount of quiet time or rest? Then she plans the activities accordingly. For example, a sunrise snorkel or a character lunch may not work for certain families. She’ll find options that will suit the daily flow of the family.
Like Amy’s tips? There’s more! Download Amy’s free guide to traveling with disabilities for checklists and tips for making your family trip magical, no matter what your family’s needs are.
Not only is Amy certified in autism travel, but she specializes in all disabilities, including mobility, dietary, stamina, sensory, medication, or communication considerations. You can reach Amy at [email protected] or join her Facebook travel group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/AmyTiggTravels/.