Nov. 1, 2019, 8:14 a.m.

Tips and tricks on how to plan holidays for children with autism

Everyone deserves to soak up some sun! 

As we know, autism affects everyone in different ways. To make it easier for you, here are some general tips that probably might be helpful for you and your child to enjoy your vacation and look forward to another one:

  • The first thing you can do to begin is to inform your flight attendants in advance. Sending an email with a list of information that addresses food preferences, allergies and communication abilities will prepare them well. 
  • Make a book with pictures or show your child some videos about the place that you’re planning to visit. 
  • Try and ask them about what they would like or dislike on a holiday and plan your itinerary around that as much as possible. 
  • Create an itinerary with visuals for each day and talk to them about everything that you are planning to do. Avoid throwing surprises at them once you get there. 
  •  If you think it will be easier, make a list of “do’s & don’ts” together. 
  • Make sure they’re in the loop about all that you have in mind. 
  • You can also prepare a social with words or visuals, whatever works best for your child. (How to make a social story can be easily found online). 
  • Make a list of sensory issues that your child has (if any) and make a list. (for eg: smell, noise, light) 
  • Carry something specifically to make your child feel safe and secure. Such as: favorite gadget, soft toy or food. 
  • Practice makes perfect. May not be in this case, but it will go a long way. Try and run a short rehearsal or discuss regularly with the child for a few days before travel. 
There is a lot of planning and lot of effort that goes into a holiday involving special needs, but at the end of the day it is worth it! 

Any new exposure or experience adds something to the world of a child with autism. If a new experience is made enjoyable, it makes them more open to try newer ones in the future. The idea here is to reduce their anxiety by making sure there are so surprises and avoiding the fear of the unknown as much as possible.