All families need vacations and families with an Autistic child are no different. Although it will require a different approach at times, and maybe a little more patience and planning, family vacations are nonetheless still possible for children with autism.
Planing is crucial, and you should accommodate your child’s interests as much as possible while incorporating your wants and needs as well.
Parents can show their children pictures or movies of the location where they are planning to go,or search the Internet together. Tell your child what to expect before you go, who is going to be traveling and staying with them, where is the location, how does it look, and what are the possible activities that they can do. Don’t forget to highlight all of their favorite activities that they can engage in at the vacation spot.
Choose Your Destination Wisely. If your child has sensory issues, try to make sure these are not going to interfere with your time. For example, if your child doesn’t like sand being stuck between his toes obviously you are not going to take him to the beach. If he is sensitive to loud noises and crowds, he might be better off going to a mountain cabin to go hiking, instead of taking him to Disney world.
Select Your Accommodations Carefully. You often can choose between a hotel room, condo, or rental house. Of course, a lot depends on budget and preference.
Structure Your Days. Vacations are supposed to be an opportunity to kick back and go with the flow mentality, but for the person with autism, unplanned time can be extremely stressful. That doesn’t mean a planned activity for every hour of the day, but it means daily structure.
Choose Quiet Times for Fun. Most autistic kids do better with quiet, low key experiences. If it is summer and you are at the beach, go to the water early in the morning or late afternoon when it is not that crowded. If you wish to go to the theme park wait till fall or early spring. Also at the theme park, you may get a special family pass showing a doctor’s note with your child’s diagnosis. This way you do not have to wait in long lines, and you will be able to get on the rides quickly. As for loud theme park noises, take earplugs or headphones to mute the sound, or visit during off-peak weeks when crowds are less.
Be Flexible, even the best plan can go awry, especially with an autistic child being present. Have a back up plan, and do not feel upset or embarrassed to leave the place you are at so you may give your sensory overloaded child a break.
Don’t Let Ignorant People Get You Down. My famous motto … IGNORE THE IGNORANT!!!!!!
I found these “snappy answers” from one of my favorite online writers, Lisa Jo Rudy, here and I wanted to share them with you all. I really have to memorize them myself. There is lots of ignorance out there, and so it is always good to be prepared.
1. He can’t be autistic – he can talk! (or make eye contact, smile, engage) and yet he is amazingly still autistic. You see, autism is a disorder, and that means….
2. Oh, she must be SO good at math! (or science or music)
Actually, her great talent is in memorizing and reciting lines from Sponge Bob videos! (Or those annoying Thomas the Tank Engine songs!)
3. All he needs is more discipline, and he’ll get the message.
Yup, it’s true — if you give a child enough time outs, he’ll just stop being autistic. And if I speak French to you loudly enough, you’ll become fluent!
4. You poor thing, it must be so upsetting to have a child with a disability.
Yes, it can be hard. And pity really helps me to get through the day and feel better about myself and my child. So…thanks so much!
5. Will he be able to go to college (or get married or hold down a job)?
Hm. Good question. By the way, has your daughter’s divorce been finalized yet? And I’m so sorry to hear that your son was recently laid off from his job…
6. I have a friend whose child was autistic, and she cured him!
Wow! So I guess she’s enjoying the millions she made after figuring out how to cure autism? I bet her second home is a yacht!
7. If she can’t behave properly, you shouldn’t BRING her to the grocery store!
Wow — that would be great. Should I fax you my grocery list, or send it by email? I’ll really enjoy the delivery service!
8. We can’t include him in typical classes, it wouldn’t be fair to the other kids.
Hm, that’s an interesting perspective. So I guess you have a pretty big endowment to pay for all the law suits? That must be great!
9. We can’t accept her at our school because she doesn’t have a learning disability
Ohhhh… what a shame! Oh, wait, look, she’s suddenly developed dyslexia! Can she come to your school now?
10. You should make more time for yourself!
You’re so right! So will you be babysitting tonight or tomorrow night?
So, the point is don’t let yourself get bothered by all the ignorant remarks that you may hear when you’re out with your Autistic child – enjoy being together as a family and learn to laugh at some of the foolish remarks instead of getting uptight or depressed. With the right planning, vacations can become the most awaited time for the year. Summer is right around the corner, start planning and have a nice, relaxing, fun time.