Can You Take a Family Vacation with an Autistic Child?
When you have children, planning a family vacation can be stressful- but in the end, it’s a very rewarding experience. It’s the same if you have a child with autism. The most important thing is that you must be prepared for whatever happens. For a child with autism, a vacation can be scary and confusing. On the other hand, it can also be a wonderful learning experience, creating amazing memories for the whole family.
The very first thing you need to consider when planning a vacation is to choose the location based on the needs of your autistic child. For example, if sound is a trigger for your child, you probably should not choose an amusement park as your destination. You can find quieter options at small beaches or going camping. Ideally, it should be a locale that everyone in the family will enjoy.
Once you have reached your destination, you will want to take some time to plan out your stay. For example, if you wish to avoid the crowds, you’ll want to visit the attractions either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Additionally, you might want to schedule your vacation during the off-season, especially if it will not disrupt your child’s schoolwork. This will help to avoid the crowds, which means your child will be more comfortable- especially if they are triggered by crowds.
Another thing to consider is how far it is from your home. Think about the transportation you will use to get there. Keep in mind that if you are flying, airport security may need to put their hands on your child, which both you and your child will need to be prepared for.
Make sure that you choose a locale with activities that everyone will enjoy- but also provides some opportunities for social interaction and learning for your autistic child. For example, if your child is sensitive to touch, he/she may enjoy the soft sands on the beach and the water can provide a different feeling as well. Plus, being outside, your child will be able to yell without bothering others. If your child is typically non-responsive, a museum may be beneficial because they are able to ask questions and you can ask them questions as well.
Keep in mind that most people have not dealt with autism. Make it a point to be understanding of their ignorance- but if your child is being treated badly or unfairly, make sure that you stand up for them. Be sure that you are aware of your child’s constitutional rights- but be willing to compromise as well. For example, if your child threw a fit and was disruptive at a restaurant, don’t be surprised if they are reluctant to serve you again. Simply explain the situation and ask them if its possible to take your order to go, even if that’s not their normal protocol.
Focus on having fun and making great memories with your family. Keep in mind that people are likely to stare because they don’t understand what is going on. However, don’t be rude and make snide comments or give them mean looks- simply ignore them. If you wish, you can politely ask them if they have any questions and be willing to educate them if they do.