A change of scene from a quiet and serene neighborhood to a noisy, populated theme park can make an autistic child lose their composure in an instant. This is because autistic children have more sensitive senses than ordinary children. More than that, some autistic children have daily routines that are strictly followed. So planning even a short vacation can be a very challenging task.
One of the best approaches is to familiarize your child with going places by driving around the local neighborhood and slowly expanding the distance which you explore. This helps your child slowly but efficiently adapt to changes in surroundings. A sudden change can evoke an endless tantrum but a more gradual change is easier for your child to cope with. Another approach is to teach your child the skill of waiting. This enables him or her to get used to letting time pass without performing his or her usual routine.
You should also work on helping your child to adjust to having a lot of people around. When your child is not used to a crowded surroundings, he or she may get anxious. When crowds are completely unavoidable, have your child wear dark sunglasses to cut back visual stimulation and MP3 players to muffle the noises.
Another approach is to print pictures of the places you will be going, accompanied by cards with the names of the places so that he or she may be able to process the name of the place with the image. Make sure that it is always in view of the child for easy access, for example on the refrigerator or the child’s wall. It would also be good if you can tell stories about the place where you are headed so that your child has an idea of the place and its features.
Before the trip itself, make sure to have your mode of transportation prepared. It would be best to travel by car, but if the place where you are travelling to is overseas and an airplane is needed, make sure to bring toys or MP3 players that can distract your child from the noise of the engines. Also plan the place where you will be staying. If you are going to stay in a hotel, ask for a quiet room so that your child can adjust more easily to his surroundings and be sure there is no odor of cigarettes or other stimuli that may add stress for the child.
To ensure the safety and security of your child, have him or her wear an ID tag with his or her name and emergency contact number. It is best to anticipate these types of situations just in case. Make sure that during your stay, you keep a close eye on your child as autistic children sometimes tend to wander off toward something that catches their attention.