Air travel can be challenging for all of us—but it’s often especially difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. Changes in routine and unfamiliar sensory signals can cause distress, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to abandon your travel plans. With proper planning, a little preparation, and plenty of care, flying with an autistic child is absolutely possible.
Flying with an Autistic Child: Five Steps to Success
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Flying with autism is different for every individual, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan to ensure a perfect trip. However, there are many things you can do to increase the likelihood of a seamless journey.
- Minimize disruptions to your routine by choosing a flight time that meshes well with your current schedule. Before you book your flight, you should also consider what kind of seat—window or aisle—would be most comfortable for your child. Prepare your child for the departure by marking it on the calendar well in advance, and check in each day to remind them of the big day.
- Create a social story prior to your departure, and walk your child through all the ins and outs of their airport experience. When creating guidelines with your child, remember to focus on correct behaviors rather than on the ways that something could go wrong.
- Contact TSA Cares at least 72 hours before you arrive at the airport, and find out what they can do to help your trip go more smoothly. The airline’s disability assistance department may also be able to offer guidelines, helpful information, or clarification.
- If possible, you should visit the airport with your child at some point before your departure. This will help to familiarize them with the potentially overwhelming sights and sounds they’ll encounter when you travel.
- Make sure to pack plenty of comfort items in accessible places. Although you may be able to rely on in-flight entertainment in some instances, it’s wise to pack your own entertainment too—whether that means favorite toys or electronics.
Speak with an Accessibility Consultant Today
Here at TravelAble Vacations, we’re committed to helping everyone experience the joys of travel. For more air travel tips, or to learn from the experience of our experts, simply contact our team today. Working hand in hand with a travel agent is the best way to ensure that your trip proceeds without any major hiccups.