Traveling with children with autism can be quite the hand full. Taking your special needs child on vacation can be hell on earth if you are not prepared. Today I will be discussing Travel and Asperger’s Syndrome mostly but the same tips and tricks can be applied to most special needs children. Before discussing tips on traveling witih your child with Asperger’s Syndrome we should define Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects mainly the social skills of your child. Asperger’s is on the Autism Spectrum. Which according to ASPEN has been included in US diagnosis manual since 1994 (“Asperger Disorder” in the DSM-IV).
Child Aspies tend to be more intelligent than their peers and often behave in an uncommon manner when compared to their peers. This can be due to the fact that they lack skills to socialize very well with other children. Most Aspies are exposed to bullying and other forms of mockery throughout their childhood.
This is mainly because their peers label them as different. Many Aspies find it extremely painful to look someone in the eyes. This makes children and adults feel like the child is rude and distant. Making it even worse for the child.
Aspies do not recognize facial expressions without years of practice. This can make it hard for them to be empathic and to know who is their friend or not.
They like routines and repetition of things they’re interested in. This leads to obsessive and repetitive behavior.
I have in the past had one if not all of the symptoms listed at the same time. It has been difficult to learn how to appear normal to other people.
This can be incredibly stressful. I personally have cried to sleep at night wishing to be normal. This is why even children with Asperger’s need a vacation.
They need to be able to relax and feel like they belong even if just for a week away from their peers.
We may be different but we want the same things as everyone else parents just need to give their Aspie a little more love and care at home and away. Mother’s and fathers of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome just need to remember a few key things when traveling and Everything will turn out fine.
Parents should always bring along familiar environment while going on a vacation. Due to the fact that they’re not flexible to changes and they find it difficult to adapt, a mother should make it possible to always go along with things that the child already have interest on and things that will keep them distracted for the rest of the vacation such as toys, photo album, preferred snacks, books, DVDs, art supplies and assistive communication tools.
If you forget to bring them along, then the entire trip might end before it starts. I personally when traveling as a child packed more toys than I really needed. My parents had to tell me where are you going to fit your new toys if your suitcase is already full. My answer was simple, we’re going to buy another suitcase, of course.
They still somehow persuaded me everytime to leave some room in my luggage. This trick will always work on the child because these kind of children like repetitions to things that they really like and have interest on. So therefore, with this trick, that mother has finally succeeded in keeping the child busy and happy at the same time.
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As a mother, you should also understand that your child or kids like this like to live with routines and changing it will always affect them badly. So, it is good to come along with your normal house routines and in that way, they won’t be able to feel uncomfortable. Just like the way they don’t understand normal people or adapt well to their way of life, same goes for normal people. So therefore, you must be open to their way of thinking, living, etc and readily make yourself available to flow with it.
You as a parent must be flexible in order to keep your child stress free while on vacation. When planning a vaction in a location with lots of people, you should include your child’s interests in your planned activities.
That way if it gets too stressful you have an activity for them that will take away their stress. I recomend planning ahead your vacation this ensures that every member of the family enjoys the vacation. Including your child with Asperger’s.
It can be difficult for you child to adapt to change at times. Preparing them mentally and walking them through the vacation before hand will help them adjust greatly. This helps the location to no longer to be unfamiliar and scary.
Instead it feels familiar and exciting at the same time. For instance, if you know that during the vacation period that you will visit a park or shopping mall, etc where he or she will have to meet people or things or even experiences he or she have not had before, it is advisable to start introducing such experiences to them before the vacation period arrive, so that they will be familiar to the experiences that they’re going to have.
Another wonderful trick that a mother of a child in autism spectrum should apply is to visit a Aspergers specialist to answer some of the difficult questions on your mind before you travel with him or her. Because they’re in a better position to decipher what is good for them at a particular point in time and have a great knowledge on the disorder it can be useful to have a second opinion.
Remember two heads are better than one. Always have their favorite gadgets when traveling saving them from any overstimulation. Make sure to bring sunglasses, noise cancelling headphones, a tablet, a weighted blanket and other soothing items. Social stories and visual planners are also very essential for your trip.
These can make or break an enjoyable trip for your child. Storybooks of your final destination are a good idea. They help a child rember or familiarize themselves with the area. These are especially good for an environment the child has already been to. They help the child to remember how fun the destination is and gets them excited.
The storybooks help to keep them from worry as well. Do not show your child suffering from autism that you are under pressure, because it might cause anxiety to the child. So always relax and organize yourself as if you are on top of the game in order to create an enabling environment for the child and make the child feel safe.
Parents should consider the pros and cons of a short vs long vacation. Weight the pros and cons in your head very carefully. If you are going to a foreign country a shorter trip would be advised. But if you are going to the beach or a theme park a longer trip may be preferred. Just keep in mind the effects the prolonged activities may have on your child.
Always have a back up plan in case something goes wrong while in transit to your destination. Plan accordingly if you flight is cancelled or delayed. If driving plan accordingly in case your vehicle breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
Whatever you do don’t show your child how worried you are because it will make your child more worried than you are. Play games to keep his mind off of the flight delay or vehicle break down. It will probably help you as well. consider planning against emergency such as cancellation of flight or delays.
Being a special needs parent is never easy. Putting your children before yourself is one of the hardest things to learn as a parent. These tips and tricks should make it a little bit easier to put your child’s needs before yours.
Ensuring an enjoyable and safe vacation for every member of your family. In conclusion, Since Asperger’s or any autism spectrum disorder is not the same for everyone be sure to do what is best for your particular situation.
In Conclusion, No child with autism experiences the same things in the exact same way. This makes it hard to have a one guide fits all for your child. You have to work hard to get the best possible care for your child. Treat the child not the disorder. Your child is more than autistic he/she is a one of a kind unique individual and should be treasured.