Tips For Holiday Travel
Many of us will be traveling this holiday season to visit our family and friends. Help make holiday travel go smoothly by preparing your child on the spectrum for what to expect when traveling and while away.
Family vacations create memories and will teach your child on the spectrum about new places. They also provide an often much needed break for you, your family and your child. Unfortunately, some children, who have been diagnosed with autism, have a difficult time with new situations, people, and schedules.
Here are some ideas for making vacations and weekend trips less stressful and more enjoyable.
Prepare Kids – Unfamiliar places and situations can be very stressful for some children with autism. Prepare your child on the spectrum for a trip by showing images of where they will be staying, activities, people going on the trip, and transportation are helpful for setting expectations. If you are flying, discuss the security process and etiquette for how to behave at the airport and on a plane. Also if they are expecting Santa, make sure you let them know that Santa can find them wherever you go!
Involve Kids in Planning – Unless you are going to visit family in the same location as always this holiday season, you may want to involve your child on the spectrum in your planning process. Consider your children’s interests when booking a get away so that they look forward to the trip and know there will be plenty of fun activities for them to do. Before a trip, let your child on the spectrum help pack their suitcases so they know what they will have with them. Use this as an opportunity to discuss the weather and appropriate clothes for activities. Pack and have readily available a small bag of toys and books for car rides, unexpected waiting periods, and downtimes.
Create a Sense of Familiarity – Do what you can to maintain a somewhat consistent routine while away. Although sleep schedules may be difficult to follow, but keep wake up and bedtime as close to the child’s usual schedule as possible. Familiar objects also help children with consistency. If a child reads a favorite story before bed, carries personal items in a backpack, or uses a stress ball, be sure to pack these items.
Remember Downtime is Important –Families often over plan vacations. Spending time with friends and family, going from one location to another, or doing a number of things at one place can exhaust children. Be sure to remember that your child on the spectrum needs some downtime to play on their own, to rest, maybe even to take a nap. Make sure you keep that in mind when planning your days away.
Create Memories – Most of all use your time away with your family to create memories that will last a lifetime, take lots of pictures, buy a travel diary before the trip and if possible try to spend a few minutes every evening discussing the day’s events, so that your child doesn’t forget what they did by the time they get home.