These are 8 of my favorite ways to make travel with your autistic child less stressful and more fun!
1. Get your child used to wearing headphones before you leave the house.
It may take some time to get your child to accept to wear headphones but once the work is done, your family travel experiences will be so much easier. You will be able to offer headphones to your child while you’re in the car, on a place or traveling by train. This will make travel with your autistic child so much easier. These are my favorite kid-friendly, noise blocking headphones.
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2. Toilet train your child.
So many kids with autism have trouble with toilet training and wear diapers much longer than necessary. This should be one of the first program goals to tackle as soon as your child is ready to work on it. Once your child is toilet trained, you will be able to propose toilet breaks while on the road rather than having to carry diapers and wipes and figure out changing your child’s diapers while you’re traveling. Any mom who has found herself in a public spot with zero spots to change a diaper and a screaming kid will know what I’m talking about! This is one of my favorite books about toilet training autistic children.
3. Bring snacks.
Finding appropriate snacks for your little one can be no easy feat. Between your child’s picky eating, food aversion and possible allergies, it is difficult to find appropriate snacks while traveling. Often having a snack with you can be the difference between enjoying a family travel experience (like a short hike or trip to the cinema) and a full-on melt-down. I love this gluten-free granola recipe from The Roasted Root for a homemade, healthy snack that you can bring on the road for family adventuring!
4. Your magic bag.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know about the powers of your magic bag. You can make a mini version that is appropriate for your travels and carry it with you or keep it in the trunk of your car.
These are 3 of my go-to fun and educational toys to have in your magic bag at all times!
- Baby Einstein musical toy
- Light-up, sensory balls
- Mini iPad (you know I love old-fashioned, wooden, interactive toys but the iPad is an awesome tool for traveling with your child)
Each tool in your magic bag will make travel with your autistic child a million times easier.
5. Ask for help.
I cannot stress this enough! ASK FOR HELP! You don’t need to be supermom and you shouldn’t be doing everything yourself. ASk your husband/partner/sister/friend/babysitter to help you as you are traveling with your child. Don’t hesitate to ask the chosen person to stay with your child for an hour while you go get a quiet coffee on your own/massage/go for a walk (insert your preferred travel activity here).
6. Leave extra time to travel.
Make sure you leave your family enough time to get from point A to point B comfortably. Rushing creates stress for everyone. This means limiting connecting flights with very little wait time between them, leaving an extra half hour or hour whenever possible when you need to be somewhere and not putting pressure ony our family to arrive places quickly. Although, taking time will obviously make your travel adventures take more time but I recommend you embrace this! This is your family life. Treasure every moment rather than letting joy slip away as you rush between places and activities.
7. Travel more.
Some families avoid traveling with their autistic child and then dread the trips they must make together when an extreme situation comes up. The worst times to prepare your autistic child to travel is when a family member across the country is sick and you must fly to be with them or your spouse’s job requires your whole family to relocate to another state. Take short, frequent trips. Spend one night away 30 minutes from your home. Take a one hour flight to explore a new place as a family. Your child can learn to love exploring and travel just like any other child. The more you travel, the more your child will be used to traveling and the more your family will enjoy your travel adventures! Traveling is also one of the absolute best learning experiences for your little one!
8. Keep a journal.
I have also personally loved journaling and I love journaling with special needs kids too. Before you leave for your family travels, take your child to buy a travel journal. During your trip, be intentional in collecting fun souvenirs to include in your travel journal. Prompt your child to write in the journal if possible or tell you what he or she most enjoyed during the day so that you can jot it down in the journal.
Please share you favorite trips for traveling as a family with a special needs child in the comments below!
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