Travelling with an autistic child

Hello – Alex here! As many of you may know, I have two beautiful, neurodivergent children, and we often travel around the UK. Here’s my two cents on how to successfully get around.

Travelling with an autistic child can be both an exciting and challenging experience. It’s a great opportunity to explore new places, create unforgettable memories, and bond with your child. However, it can also disrupt your child’s routine, which can cause stress, anxiety, and meltdowns. Therefore, it’s important to plan ahead and establish a consistent routine during your travels as much as you possibly can.

Plan ahead

One of the best ways of keeping routines when travelling with an autistic child is to plan ahead. Start by researching your destination and find out what resources are available for families with special needs. This may include accessible transportation, sensory-friendly activities, and accommodations that cater to the needs of autistic children. You should also try to create an itinerary that includes your child’s favourite activities and meals wherever possible. This will hopefully help your child feel more comfortable and engaged throughout the trip.

Stick to a schedule

Autistic children tend to really thrive on routine and structure, so it’s important to stick to a schedule as much as possible during your travels. This means maintaining consistent meal times, bedtime routines, and other daily activities. You can use a visual schedule or a timer to help your child understand what’s happening next and reduce their anxiety.

Bring familiar items

Travelling can be overwhelming, so it’s important to bring familiar items from home. This may include favourite toys, blankets, and snacks. Having these familiar items will provide a sense of comfort and security, and help your child adjust to their new environment.

Use social stories

Social stories are a great way of preparing children for new experiences. They use simple language and pictures to describe a situation and explain what to expect. You can create social stories for your child to prepare them for the trip, the travel experience, the new destination, and the activities you’ll be doing. This will help reduce their anxiety and make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.

Take breaks

Travelling can be exhausting, especially for autistic children who may struggle with sensory overload. It’s important to take breaks throughout the day to allow your child to rest and recharge. This may include finding a quiet space, taking a sensory break, or engaging in calming activities such as reading a book or doing a puzzle.

Communicate with your child

Communication is key when travelling with any child. Talk to your child about what’s happening and ask for their input. This will help them feel more involved and in control of the situation. You should also listen to their concerns and be open to making adjustments if necessary. Remember, the goal is to create a positive and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Be flexible

Travelling with an autistic child can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be flexible and adaptable. You may need to change your plans or adjust your expectations based on your child’s needs. Remember, the trip is about creating happy memories and experiences, not about sticking to a rigid schedule.

As always, this is just a few things that have worked for my children and me, and every family is different. Please feel free to leave handy tips and tricks in the comments!

travelling with an autistic child - healthy snacks in travel canisters

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