Family Travel Question:

Q | What are some good famility vacations/destinations that would be appropriate for a child on the autsim spectrum?

What are some good famility vacations/destinations that would be appropriate for a child on the autsim spectrum? -Chris, RI

A | Traveling with an autism spectrum child

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Traveling with a child on the autism spectrum can be a bit of a challenge at times but the benefits largely outweigh the struggles on even the roughest day. My son is diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and I firmly believe that travel has been a very large part of why he has had so many vast improvements in behavior and social skills. As a matter of fact, the reason why my family began hiking and traveling so often was because I wanted to push my son out of his comfort zone at a young age so that he wouldn’t develop habits that would be much harder to break later in life. When we took our first hikes, going from concrete to gravel was like torture for him and the tears would flow. I knew how much he loved throwing objects into water, so I made that a reward. Soon he knew by taking a trail, he would reach something he enjoyed, and the sensory issues slowly faded away. Next we tackled sand at the beach, and it all grew from there. Now my son is practically begging me to go somewhere new every weekend.

I think starting with vacations that involve plenty of time in the “great outdoors” would be a nice way to start traveling with a child on the Autism Spectrum. Nature has a wonderful way of helping people find comfort in their surroundings and allows sensitive kids to be sensitive and rambunctious children to be rambunctious, without having to worry about societies perceptions. It’s a great place to test out different scenarios and tackle new goals with your child. Always push them a bit further than they want to go but not so far that they never want to try something new again. And of course, always look for a reward: whether that be throwing rocks in a pool of water or playing with a special toy. I promise that with a little work and a lot of love, travel with a child with special needs can be a very positive experience.

Photo credit: Sharlene Earnshaw

2 Responses

  1. [New Post] Traveling with an autism spectrum child – via #twitoaster

  2. Stacey says:

    Hi, We travel with our eight children under ten. Four of our children have special needs. Two are autistic. I really believe the benefits far outweigh the challenges. We want to autistic children to be able to function everywhere so we practice a lot when we are together. For example, we avoid the idea of limiting our children’s palate and instead have encouraged eating a wide variety of foods. Now, we have confidence that our child can eat happily in whatever country we find ourselves.

    I agree with the above post.
    Outdoorsy spots free from large crowds often make the best and most relaxed trips because you will be free to let your child roam at his own pace.

    We lokfor eco tourism. Although, when we were in Honalulu, our autistic children loved the Maize at the Dole plantaion. Many children on the spectrum are rewarded with movies so that works well at most US National Parks.

    Packing the familiar, maintaining a similar routine become important. Travel with ur special little ones has been a wonderful practice that has helped our children thrive.