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Tips for travelling with a child with autism

With the holiday season round the corner, many families are planning trips out of town. When you have a child with autism, it is important to keep some things in mind to make it stress free and fun for all.

The holiday season is round the corner. Families are already planning for their yearly vacation. When you have a child with autism, there is a need for some extra planning because children under the autism spectrum disorder goes by set schedules. A new routine can affect them in many ways. So parents need to be extra careful when planning about their upcoming vacation.

Grace Santosh, a psychologist from Chennai, has a son with autism.

I make sure to select a destination which is convenient for my son. He prefers a place that is not too crowded and is sound sensitive. I explain to him about the trip one week in advance so that he knows what he can expect. Every trip is a learning experience for both parents and the child. Be brave, plan well, consult your child's physician and keep track of personal essentials. Never be shy because you are on a family trip-Grace Santosh, Parent to child with autism.

If you are planning to travel with your child who is under the autism spectrum disorder, here are a few tips to make your trip more fruitful and fun.

  • Talk to them about the plan- For a child with autism, sticking to their regular schedule is where their comfort lies. When you make a travel plan, talk to your child about where you are going and what they can expect there so that when they reach the destination they do not get baffled or disappointed.
  • Need for safety precautions- While on a vacation, most parents prefer to relax to get a break from their normal schedule. Sometimes, the child might even wander off especially if the place is new to them. So parents must ensure that they have taken some safety precautions. You can tie a bracelet with the name and details to contact if found lost. Putting your card details inside their pockets can also help identify them if someone finds them.
  • Arrange things in advance-When you travel with a child who has autism, it is important to plan and organize everything in advance. Make sure that your travel and hotel bookings are confirmed. You can even check with hotels on facilities that they have for your child. Keeping everything for the last minute can create confusion and chaos.
  • Prepare meal plan- For a child with autism, it is extremely important to have their meals on time. Keep snacks or other food items in your bag so that your child does not get irritated or angry when hungry.

Himabindhu Gattu, Founder, Abhilasha Research Centre for Children with Special Needs in Hyderabad says that planning is extremely important.

"Talk to them about when they are going and what they can expect at the destination. If you plan for Agra, show them pictures of Taj Mahal because children under the autism spectrum connect well to visual images. This will also help them relate to the place upon reaching. Always carry something that they like and are comfortable with. This can even be their favourite toy. Keep them occupied and ensure to carry their favourite gluten free snacks", says Gattu.

Traveling with kids on the autism spectrum is important as it presents wonderful opportunities to increase awareness, acceptance, respect and support, not only for your child but also the world at large.

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