Summer vacations are a time for families to spend time together, celebrate the end of a successful school year and make memories somewhere warm and sunny. Planning these trips is always a bit chaotic. From coordinating work time off to packing and deciding on an itinerary of activities everyone will enjoy.
If you’re planning a summer vacation and have a child on the autism spectrum, there are some added precautions you’ll also have to take as you break away from comfortable routines and head to a new territory. However, this doesn’t mean fun and relaxation are out of the picture. Here are some tips for planning a successful summer vacation that’s enjoyable for all.
While booking reservations and planning activities for the vacation, be sure to factor in dining locations and hotels where your child will feel most comfortable. Rough situations such as extreme heat or lots of lighting may cause your child to become restless or exhibit troubling behaviors. You can prevent these tricky situations and meltdowns by planning in advance and choosing destinations you know will be interesting and pleasing for your child. Try to keep a set schedule for daily activities and help your child to feel as comfortable as possible with the trip.
Prepare Your Child
One way to help children feel less anxious about new surroundings and activities being added into their schedules is to gradually expose them to the idea and settings they’ll encounter. Speak openly to them about the fun adventures you’ll be taking as part of the family vacation. You can even make it fun by role-playing and familiarize them with the longer car ride, or time at the beach so they will get to know the things you’ll be doing while on the trip.
While your child is navigating new waters on this trip, you may run into situations where they get overstimulated or triggered. Calling ahead for busy airports or planning to be the last one to board could ease anxieties for example. Don’t be afraid to ask for special accommodations that will make things easier on your child and others. It’s also important to pack smart and be ready in response when they become overwhelmed. Keeping coping mechanisms with you such as a weighted blanket, fidget toy or headphones that will keep them engaged and safe is important.
Taking a vacation is an important part of your family’s summer experience and some great downtime. Planning ahead and having tools to make the trip enjoyable for your child on the spectrum will mean more time for making memories and less time in management mode.