Make Your Vacation ASD Friendly
Heading out for a vacation can be a thrilling experience for any family. However, for families with
a child with autism, the anticipation can be mixed with apprehension. Unfamiliar environments
and people, disrupted routines, and sensory overload can make traveling a challenging
endeavor. But with some thoughtful preparation and strategies such as the ones below,
vacations can be more likely to be positive experiences for the whole family.
1. Advance preparation is key: Before your trip, start familiarizing your child with the places
you’ll be visiting. Use pictures, videos, and maps to show them what to expect. Create a visual
schedule that illustrates the activities planned for each day. This will give them a sense of
control and reduce anxiety.
2. Keep routines intact: Children with autism often thrive on predictability and routine. Try to
replicate the child’s daily routine as much as possible during your vacation. Bring along favorite
foods, toys, and bedding to maintain familiarity and comfort.
3. Plan for sensory needs: Many children with autism are sensitive to sensory stimulation. You
can use noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, weighted blankets, or other sensory tools that
your child finds calming. Avoid crowded places or plan your visits during less busy times.
4. Take breaks: Make sure to schedule regular downtime for relaxation and decompression.
Not every minute of your vacation needs to be filled with activities to find enjoyment. Some quiet
time can be beneficial to prevent overstimulation.
5. Pack a ‘comfort kit’ or ‘toolbox’: Assemble a kit with items that your child finds comforting.
This can include familiar snacks, toys, books, or sensory tools. Having these items handy can
be very helpful during travel transitions or waiting periods.
Traveling with a child with autism requires careful planning and consideration, but the rewards of
shared family experiences can be immeasurable. With proper preparation, patience, and
flexibility, vacationing can be a delightful experience for your entire family.