Travel can be difficult for individuals with autism, but there are ways you can prepare yourself and your family to help ensure that everyone has the best trip possible. In today’s blog, we are going to talk about some steps you can take to help make your next family trip the best it can be.
No matter the length of the trip or whether you’re in a car, plane, or train, packing comfort items as well as fun activities will be very important to making sure the trip is successful. With the unfamiliarity of travel, the comfort item will help your child feel safe and provide consistency from their normal surroundings. These items could be anything from a blanket to their favorite stuffed animal or action figure. It is also important to pack enough activities to keep your child preoccupied during travel. These could include games, puzzles, or any other activities your child enjoys. If the activities include electronic devices, don’t forget to bring headphones, a charger, or extra batteries.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. You could create sensory toys like a water bottle filled with colored sand. You can even put small objects inside the bottle that your child can then look for as a game. For children with verbal language, try playing I Spy or the Alphabet Game. Just be sure to plan out a list of mental games beforehand to be prepared.
Planes, Trains, and Other Transportation
If you will be traveling by plane, train, or another mode of transportation that you and your child don’t typically use, try exposing them to things they should expect on the trip. This could include showing your child pictures and videos of the airport/airplane or train station/train that they will be using before the trip in order to help them better understand where they’re going and what it will be like. If possible, try to arrange a trial run or a visit ahead of time to explore the space so it’s more familiar to your child when the actual travel day comes.
If the form of transportation you’re using requires masks to be worn during travel, it could be helpful to get your child used to wearing a mask for extended periods of time. One way to help your child adjust to wearing a mask is to practice wearing their mask for a minute at a time and slowly increasing the duration over time. Fit and design of the mask is also important. It will be easier for your child to wear their mask longer if it fits comfortably.
Creating and Maintaining Routines
In order to best ensure a positive travel experience, it is important to maintain a consistent routine with your child. Using a social story for big events, like going to the airport and flying on a plane, can help your child know what to expect throughout the experience, and visual schedules can help remind them of the events that will be taking place throughout the day.
Another great way to provide your child with a source of comfort is to mimic as much of their typical bedtime routine as possible. This could include not just a similar time for bed, but bringing their favorite pajamas, a stuffed animal they may sleep with, bath-time, and even reading them one of their favorite bedtime stories. This will help maintain consistency for your child and make an unfamiliar environment feel more like home.
Lastly and most importantly, don’t forget to make the trip fun for your child and offer praise for how well they are doing throughout the adventure.
Thank you for reading! I hope you found this blog helpful. Be sure to follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on what’s happening here at Golden State and catch the latest blogs for more helpful tips and guides. Have a great day!