As the school year is ending and summer begins, many families are planning their annual vacations. For families with children with special needs, the changes in routine and unpredictability of travel can make these types of trips quite challenging.
The key to successful travel with your child with special needs is to plan, and if possible, practice ahead of time. For example, if you are flying on an airplane with your child for the first time, you can watch videos, read books or make a social story with pictures to explain what will happen at the airport and on the plane. You can even make a visit to the airport ahead of time. The Arc’s Wings for All/Wings for Autism Program even provides airport “rehearsals” and presentations for individuals and families. You can find the program here. (At the moment, some programming may be on hold due to COVID-19). You can find a guide to writing social stories here.
Another great travel resource is available from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). The IBCCES provides training in autism and special needs care to travel agents and vacation venues. You can find a list of Certified Autism Travel Professionals and Certified Autism Center destinations, as well as other free resources on their website at https://autismtravel.com/.
Coming soon is special needs travel columnist Dawn Barclay’s book “Traveling Different: Vacation Strategies for Parents of the Anxious, the Inflexible and the Neurodiverse”. She interviewed parents of children with special needs, travel specialists and mental health professionals and compiled numerous tips and resources on dining, itineraries and vacation destinations. The book will be available on August 15 or you can check out her website for updates and other information.
Happy and Safe Travels!