Vacations and Travel
Traveling can often be challenging when dealing with children in general. Being proactive can make for a more positive and relaxing vacation. Below are some simple tips to help prepare your family for your big trip.
Discuss the upcoming vacation and prepare a schedule to provide structure. There are many sites that can help create a visual schedule, or social story depending upon the needs of your child.
Be aware of potential stressors and make a “Plan B” as needed.
Check resorts or hotels for “sensory areas” when a break is needed.
Bring proper identification should you get separated.
Pack distractors for long lines, or waiting.
Practice the vacation scenarios in advance.
Take breaks often.
There are numerous travel agencies across the country who specialize in special needs, and contouring vacation destinations and itineraries based on individualized accommodations. There are also many resorts, theme parks, and other destinations that are designated as autism friendly.
Beaches Resorts has partnered with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards to complete their Autism Certification, and offers specialized service for families with children with autism. TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach, Florida is a designated special needs friendly resort by Be Friendlier.
Royal Caribbean is the first autism friendly cruise line, offering a wide range of autism friendly products and services on all of their cruises. They also partner with Autism on the Seas to offer “Staffed Cruises” on select trips, which provide extra professionally trained staff and private activities for individuals on the spectrum.
Disney Parks have long been committed to accommodating guests with disabilities. Their Disability Access Service allows guests that struggle with or cannot wait in a conventional line to receive a return time to board a ride, allowing them to skip the queue. Legoland Florida offers a “Blue Hero Pass”, which allows guests with autism and their group expedited access to popular attractions. Sesame Place, which just opened in 2018, is the first theme park in the world to be designated as a Certified Autism Center.
If your family member with autism struggles with flying, or has never flown, there are several resources available to easy any anxiety. TSA Cares is a helpline that provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions, and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process. If you call (855) 787-2227 72 hours ahead of your flight, TSA can provide a passenger support specialist to assist you.
TSA has also partnered with The Arc on a program called Wings for Autism, which gives families across the country an opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security, and boarding a plane. Locally, the Autism Society of Indiana offers a similar program at the Indianapolis International Airport called Soaring for Autism.
No one can eliminate all obstacles; however, with a little pre-planning your vacation can be less stressful and enjoyable for the entire family.