Posted by: myautisticmuslimchild | November 7, 2012

What it’s Like To Travel With Autism day#7 NHBPM

Travel is fun, discovering  places, experiencing different cultures, making new friends, make decisions in a whim just to be spontaneous. Oh yes, these are some wonderful things, but not when you travel with an autistic child.

Still, it did not stop me to travel with my ASD son, but it takes some planning to travel with him.

I have to consider what he likes, so we pick a place where everyone can be happy and it is accommodating him as well. Flying is the quickest way to travel, and fortunately he doesn’t have too much problems on the plane. I have to turn off the air for him because he always gets a severe allergic reaction from it. It took me some time to figure this one out, but once I did, flying got more pleasant.  The  waiting in the security line was also a challenge, but after a while I realized I can ask for a special need pass. That was just a perfect solution for us, and it shortens the waiting too.

Another travel method we used is the car. This is the most convenient  way to travel with him. We can stop for bathroom , food or just to stretch at any time.  He loves to ride in a car as long as he can look outside, and with enough stretching he can tolerate long drives as well.

We tried to take him on a cruise ship too. Lets just say, he had a time of his life. Even when we hit a bit of a rough sea, and everyone was  dizzy, he enjoyed the  motions very much.

He is fine  sleeping in a hotel rooms as long as I bring his own sheets, or at least his own pillow case. He has allergic reaction to the detergent they use, even if I ask for hypoallergenic room. I usually let him sleep away from the door, just in case he decides to wake up and walk around, I would have enough time to catch up with him before he reaches the door. I have to pack his favorite snacks as well and his drink, so he has something familiar to eat and drink.

I need to keep his strict schedule for bedtime, so he has a bit of a continuity from home. Because it is very little predictability during travel, I have to reinforce  our next steps over and over again. To be honest travel is a lot of fun for him, but lately I am feeling the heaviness more and more on me,  and I do consider travel more of a work than leisure. As long as our destination involves water, and wide open spaces , he is a happy child, and that is all I need for my happiness.

Another important  issue I have to tackle is drinking water safety. He has no concept of drinking only from bottled water and use that to rinse his mouth after brushing his teeth. I have to be on a constant alert with him in this case.

During travel, my concern of losing him is much more heightened. I usually dress him in clothes that have pockets, and write a little notes  with names,numbers and address , so in case he is lost someone may find him and contact us. I also give him a little travel bag around his neck with several little zippered pockets. One pocket is dedicated to his personal information, medical history, contact numbers. All the others I just put different cards in it that he likes to take out, look at them and put them back. This activity always saved us when we were in long lines.

Travel had been great for us, with a few exceptions. Those exceptions involved TSA agents, who I personally think need much more training how to deal with people, and how to deal with special need individuals. The ignorance of dealing with special need children had caused some severe  complications in our travel plan. I hope one day TSA will require their people to take a  course   regards to effective customer service, and polite human behavior.

Another consideration I have to keep in mind while traveling is to have a children’s’ hospital near our destination,that provides pediatric ICU services. My son has a medical condition that sometimes requires  intensive  care.

During travel, rather it is car, plane, or boat, I have to explain his behavior, or lack of behavior to many people. This takes time, and patience. So I prepare myself for delays, and dealing of the general population who are understanding, and those who are more ignorant and arrogant. The key in this case is not to lower myself to some of the ignorant people’s level.

Overall, travel is fun, a learning experience for the whole family. Good planning can make or break your trip. Consider all options, and know, there will be people everywhere who do not see eye to eye with you, and that is OK. Those are the experiences that makes us human, and understand that we are all different, as well as makes us appreciate educated well-mannered individuals. (educated not necessarily means diploma, because there are highly educated people out there with no intelligence.)

Bon voyage!


  1. Salaam Sister, JazakAllah Khairun for sharing your thoughts and experiences. This will definitaly help me to plan things to take my son out next time. Usually I avoid taking him out on outings and days out by myself, as he is physically very big and strong for his age, and as I am ill myself, it becomes a challenge to deal with all the different situatios that can occur while travelling. I have taken him on outings to certain places that he likes in our City, and believe me it has been a mission. He tends to let go off my hand and just run offf, he does this when he sees things that he is excited about. I usually plan very well and prior to going out, sit with my son and make a simple MIND MAP, and let him draw the places he will be visiting, with pictures and lots of prompting, and on the journey have to keep reinforcing where we are going.
    I am going to try and take my son out again, he wants to go on the open top tour bus, but I fear for his safety as he just gets up excitedly and wanders off,. This has happened many times and usually people look and give strange or disgusted looks or just laugh or smirk, it really hurts, but that I always tell myself they are being ignorant and thier lack of understanding is thier problem. people usually put it down to my bad parenting, but little do they know the daily challenges my son and myself face. You are wonderful sister and so strong and intelligent and your son is very lucky that he has you as his mum. That is what I always tell myself when things get too hard and am feelind down. Sister would you have any ideas or tips on how I can stop my son wandering off when we are outside, I would appreciate this. Take care and best wishes. xx

    • ws Dear Zarina,

      Thank you for your nice comment. I encourage you to take him out more often, so he can get used to a socially acceptable ways to act. He might not get it 100% but he has a better chance to develop more understanding. If he gets behavioral therapy, you may ask the therapist to help you to take him on a outings and help you to correct his behavior.
      Wondering, bolting is very common amongst autistic children and it is really scary for the caretaker. i will do some research on how to deal with that effectively, but behavior therapist can help you controlling that as well,
      If you have a hard time going out with him alone, maybe some of your family member can help, or friends.
      I always encourage parents/caretakers to take the children out. You can just start going for a walk in your neighborhood until you both get used to each other being out and about. Once you established a controlled safe walk in your neighborhood, you can see if he likes it and if he does you can bargain with him. You may tell him you guys go to one of his favorite place, but he has to obey rules. if he disobeys any of the safety rules you immediately take him out. It might not be easy at first, due to their disappointment, and stubbornness, but they get is after a few times, and they do obey rules. In a mean time I will be researching about the issue and hoping others will read this post and pitch in as well with their advice.
      take care and please take your sweet child out, and enjoy it. 🙂

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