Traveling can be stressful for any family, but it can be especially difficult when you have children with Autism. Travel often means routines might be missed, or plans might frequently change, and this can cause additional stress and meltdowns.
To help combat some of the common issues that arise when traveling, ABC Pediatrics has created our helpful seven-point list to help you before, during, and after your travels.
We want every family to be able to enjoy making memories and traveling together, and with just a few tips and tricks, we know you’ll have the time of your life!
What Routines Can You Keep?
This is a great starting point – decide which routines you can keep running smoothly during your travels. This could be a certain timeframe for watching videos, learning activities, or eating certain meals or snacks.
Routines can be a calming rhythm that your child will appreciate in the upheaval of travel times, so make sure some of the most important routines are followed, even if they need to be modified to fit the situation.
Let Media Be Your Ally
As mentioned above, sometimes media is a part of your child’s day, and this can be beneficial in calming, discussing, and distracting your child from stressful situations.
Maybe you can watch a show before your trip that showcases travel, or maybe you can use photos to talk about some of the emotions your child might feel while traveling.
Regardless of if you use media before, during, or after your travel plans, it can be a useful tool that you should always keep handy.
Have Your Emergency Bag Handy
An emergency bag should have a change of clothes, some toiletries, and any needed medicine for your family.
However, depending on your family’s situation and your children’s needs, your emergency bag might also contain some sensory aids like a weighted blanket, noise-canceling headphones, or a favorite snack, smell, or tactile tool.
Activity Kits Can Be Just as Helpful as Emergency Bags
In addition to an emergency bag, having activity kits available for your child or children is a great idea as well.
Sometimes just having something to do, or an activity your children love, can mean the difference between a meltdown and a nice, even afternoon.
Additionally, having an activity with you that your child regularly participates in and enjoys can be another little bit of routine that can be kept, even while traveling.
Everyone Needs a Break Sometimes
Sometimes activities, routines, media, or even your emergency kit isn’t going to cut it – and that’s okay too. Let yourself, your family, and your children have a break.
It’s common that families try to fit a lot into their trips, and though this can sometimes be wonderful, it can sometimes be overstimulating or overly stressful as well.
Make sure you talk with your children and they understand that sometimes it’s okay to say you need a break, or you need to slow down. Look for the signs if your child isn’t verbal, or create signals with them, so they can let you know when they are nearing their threshold.
Take Pictures of Sights & Events
This isn’t just for the memories (though that’s a great side bonus). Showing pictures of the places you’ve been or the different events you’ve gone to in the past can help your child better understand and accept the next trip.
You can frame the scenario in such a way that your child can be proud of all the great things they’ve done, or the great places they’ve been.
Try to take extra care to take photos of the areas or events that most interest your child – like an aquarium, park, or specific museum. This way you can use visual reminders to discuss how the trip went, what they liked, and what could have been improved upon for next time.
Talk About the Return Too
Not only do you need to discuss and plan your trip with your child or children, you need to clearly explain the return trip as well.
A lack of communication at the end of traveling, especially when some children might be extra tired, stressed, or worn out, can result in unnecessary meltdowns.
Remember that your trip begins when the very first bag is being packed and doesn’t end until that final bag is unpacked and everyone is back in their normal routines. And if the trip doesn’t end until everyone is home, then the stress of travel for your child isn’t finished until then either.
Whether You Need Travel Tips or Autism Support, ABC Pediatrics is Here for You & Your Family
Whatever your unique goals are, we are here to help you move mountains to reach them. We utilize Applied Behavior Analysis for CBT, along with Occupational, Speech, and Physical Therapy.
Call us today to see how we can support your family.