Tips on Travelling with Your Child
Travelling with children is always a challenge, but travelling with a child with ASD can be doubly so!
People with ASD value structure and routine in their day-to-day lives. Thus, having their favourite things packed into a bag and put in the trunk of a car or on the plane can result in confusion and anxiety. Once on the road (or in the air), unexpected changes and unaccustomed situations can result in a meltdown.
Below are some suggestions for how to make travelling with your child with an ASD a more enjoyable experience for the whole family:
- Act it out: Simulate the vacation as closely as possible and act out some likely situations prior to heading out on your journey. Is there going to be a steward on the plane? If so, what can your child expect – will they be allowed to have a snack on the plane and what can they accept? If your child is on a restricted diet, bring some snacks with you and ask the stewardess to offer the choices to your child.
- Do a practice run: If possible do a practice run! Rent a hotel room for a single night or two to acclimatise your child to sleeping in a different place. Bring preferred bedding (a cozy blanket), stuffed animals or other sleep items to make the area feel more like home.
- Bring a busy box: When travelling with your children, consider putting together a “busy box” of fun activities to keep them occupied during long drives or when waiting at the airport.
- Pack some healthy “go – to” food: Do you have a picky eater on holiday? Bring some preferred healthy snacks from home with you to ensure that their eating habits can be maintained.
- Have fun and be safe: Nearly half of all children with an ASD over the age of 4 will wander away from families. If your child is a member of this group, ensure you carry a recent photograph of your child with you. Give your child a card with your contact information on it- pin it to their clothing or put it on their bag.
- Incorporate choice and preferred activities: If you are going travelling with a child with an ASD, you may not get the opportunity to go to the art gallery as a family. Schedule as many fun family activities as possible and offer choice (trains or the beach?) to keep children engaged.
As always, please ask your FCPG Behavioural Consultant if you are looking for additional information, strategies and support in this area as they are here to help you!