The Autism NoteBook June/July 2014 : Page 30

Have Kids... Will Travel BY MARGALIT STURM FRANCUS, DDS P reparing for travel when you have a child with autism can be a daunting prospect for many parents. There’s one group that has never taken a family vacation before and feels frightened by the mere thought of even considering it. The next group seriously doubts that it’s worth taking their child anywhere since they believe that ‘he doesn’t understand much’. And then there’s that last group who have tried taking a family vacation, had a bad, or even traumatizing experience, and swore they would never make that mistake again. The outcome is pretty much the same with all three groups-their kids with autism remain at home, missing out on many valuable life experiences and priceless family bonding time. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s power in numbers Avoid going on a solo vacation with your child. If you belong to an association or organization, try to get several families to travel to-gether. This way, people can take turns entertaining the kids and you can socialize and enjoy your trip. If that is not a viable option; ask a family member or friend if they can tag along (especially on car trips). Do your research Ten Tips to Success Start local Get your child accustomed to the idea of spending time away from his or her home by going on a day trip and sleeping at a family member or friend’s house. If you don’t have anyone to stay with, look into booking a hotel room on a discount site so you don’t spend too much money if it doesn’t go well the first time around. If you are planning to visit a specific site or attraction, it is im-portant to verify hours of operation and how they accommodate persons with autism (no wait in lines, special seating and head-phones) ahead of time. This way, you can arrive prepared and not face unexpected situations that might trigger unnecessary meltdowns. Visualize your trip Think short After the initial planning stage, go over all the details and try to visualize what can go wrong, such as traffic or flight delays, getting a wrong hotel room or getting stuck in an overcrowded restaurant. Make sure you double check all your reservations and have an alternate plan if something unexpected were to happen. If this is your first trip, don’t be tempted to turn it into a trip of a lifetime; chances are, it probably won’t go perfectly smooth. For the first few times, book short 2-4 day trips that don’t require much travel time and are relatively inexpensive. Travel is some-thing you and your family need to experience gradually and not just something to leap into no matter how prepared you think you are. Safety first One of the scarier scenarios when traveling away from home is having your child get lost and not know how to ask for help. You should look into purchasing a GPS locator system or QR ID (removable tattoo or clothes patch) to keep your child safe, espe-cially if he/she is non-verbal. Allow daily down time Avoid packing favorites The number one mistake many newbie travelers make is the de-sire to see ‘everything’, which can unnecessarily overwhelm the child with autism. Instead, strive to create a viable itinerary that includes a morning activity and one afternoon activity (2-3 hours long) with a lunch intermission, so that your child can relax and regroup. Although it is important to bring a beloved toy from home, seri-ously resist the temptation to pack your child’s favorite toy or clothing item. During travel, objects can easily get misplaced or left behind, and the prospect of running around in an unfamiliar city trying to replace a lost toy isn't anyone's idea of a pleasant vacation. Explore your local airport or rail station Teach something new If you plan to travel outside of your state, start visiting airports and railway stations in your area as soon as possible, and familiar-ize your child with new and crowded places. Search the internet for family events that introduce kids with autism to flying or to find designated spots to view landing planes. For most of us, vacations are synonymous with new experiences and your child should be no exception. Try to introduce him or her to different foods, sports or activities so that they can learn to associate them with fun times and good family memories. Margalit Francus, DDS, is the founder of Autistic Globetrotting, a non-profit organization aimed at inspiring and encouraging families living with autism to explore the world. http://www.autisticglobetrotting.com www . fAcebook . com / TheAuTismNoTebook . com 30 T he A uTism N oTebook M AgAziNe | J uNe /J uly 2014 www .A uTism N oTeboook . com

Have Kids... Will Travel

Margalit Sturm Francus


Preparing for travel when you have a child with autism can be a daunting prospect for many parents. There’s one group that has never taken a family vacation before and feels frightened by the mere thought of even considering it. The next group seriously doubts that it’s worth taking their child anywhere since they believe that ‘he doesn’t understand much’. And then there’s that last group who have tried taking a family vacation, had a bad, or even traumatizing experience, and swore they would never make that mistake again.

The outcome is pretty much the same with all three groups-their kids with autism remain at home, missing out on many valuable life experiences and priceless family bonding time.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Ten Tips to Success

Start local
Get your child accustomed to the idea of spending time away from his or her home by going on a day trip and sleeping at a family member or friend’s house. If you don’t have anyone to stay with, look into booking a hotel room on a discount site so you don’t spend too much money if it doesn’t go well the first time around.

Think short
If this is your first trip, don’t be tempted to turn it into a trip of a lifetime; chances are, it probably won’t go perfectly smooth. For the first few times, book short 2-4 day trips that don’t require much travel time and are relatively inexpensive. Travel is something you and your family need to experience gradually and not just something to leap into no matter how prepared you think you are.

Allow daily down time
The number one mistake many newbie travelers make is the desire to see ‘everything’, which can unnecessarily overwhelm the child with autism. Instead, strive to create a viable itinerary that includes a morning activity and one afternoon activity (2-3 hours long) with a lunch intermission, so that your child can relax and regroup.

Explore your local airport or rail station
If you plan to travel outside of your state, start visiting airports and railway stations in your area as soon as possible, and familiarize your child with new and crowded places. Search the internet for family events that introduce kids with autism to flying or to find designated spots to view landing planes.

There’s power in numbers
Avoid going on a solo vacation with your child. If you belong to an association or organization, try to get several families to travel together. This way, people can take turns entertaining the kids and you can socialize and enjoy your trip. If that is not a viable option; ask a family member or friend if they can tag along (especially on car trips).

Do your research
If you are planning to visit a specific site or attraction, it is important to verify hours of operation and how they accommodate persons with autism (no wait in lines, special seating and headphones) ahead of time. This way, you can arrive prepared and not face unexpected situations that might trigger unnecessary meltdowns.

Visualize your trip
After the initial planning stage, go over all the details and try to visualize what can go wrong, such as traffic or flight delays, getting a wrong hotel room or getting stuck in an overcrowded restaurant. Make sure you double check all your reservations and have an alternate plan if something unexpected were to happen.

Safety first
One of the scarier scenarios when traveling away from home is having your child get lost and not know how to ask for help. You should look into purchasing a GPS locator system or QR ID (removable tattoo or clothes patch) to keep your child safe, especially if he/she is non-verbal.

Avoid packing favorites
Although it is important to bring a beloved toy from home, seriously resist the temptation to pack your child’s favorite toy or clothing item. During travel, objects can easily get misplaced or left behind, and the prospect of running around in an unfamiliar city trying to replace a lost toy isn't anyone's idea of a pleasant vacation.

Teach something new
For most of us, vacations are synonymous with new experiences and your child should be no exception. Try to introduce him or her to different foods, sports or activities so that they can learn to associate them with fun times and good family memories.

Margalit Francus, DDS, is the founder of Autistic Globetrotting, a nonprofit organization aimed at inspiring and encouraging families living with autism to explore the world. http://www.autisticglobetrotting.com

Read the full article at http://virtualpublications.soloprinting.com/article/Have+Kids...+Will+Travel/1724176/211679/article.html.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here