Monday, July 13, 2009

Autism Society of America: Summer Tips

Last summer we passed on our experience with years of autism on the road. It was tough when the kids were younger, but our last few trips have been fairly agreeable. They even did pretty well when my back put me flat on the van floor for a few days.

We're going for another two week road trip this August, and everyone's looking forward to it.

So we can vouch for some of these Autism Society of America Summer Travel Tips (my comments in square brackets)
  • Plan in advance. Call ahead and inform the airline, hotel, resort and cruise line of the individual’s situation and inquire what special accommodations - fridge, inside room - are available. [We stick with road trips or relatively solitary low stimulation cabins. I don't think we'd try a cruise. Fridge inside the room - definitely. Calling ahead? Never have. It would just make most places too anxious.]

  • Bring the individual’s bedding if you think that will make him more comfortable. [We bring "blankies" and other comfort objects.]

  • Be realistic in selecting vacation destinations with environments you believe the individual can handle. [We like to get experience first in more limited environments. We've gradually extended our airplane distance.]

  • Book low season on a cruise or at a resort so there will be fewer guests and the staff will have more time to devote to your needs.

  • Travel by car if flying or other public transportation seems too difficult. [Definitely.]

  • Choose hotels/motels with kitchen suites or room service so you can eat some of your meals in your room. [Definitely]

  • MP3 players with headphones, loaded with favorite music, can soothe individuals who are disturbed by noises. Personal DVD players can also help make a long trip more enjoyable. [Absolutely, but we stagger them. It's easy to overdose. Music for a while, then books on tape/CD, then one movie a day.]

  • Don’t hesitate to explain the individual’s situation to others you may encounter, including flight attendants, hotel staff, employees at the amusements you visit, and other vacationers. ["Autism" is a good cover story for a lot of things.]

  • Prepare the individual before and during the trip on what to expect that day. [One of our kids needs a pretty detailed schedule, but he's surprisingly good about deviations. He just has to know the plan.]

  • Adhere as closely as you can to the individual’s normal routine. [Huh? The normal routine doesn't involve travel. Maybe they mean bedtime rituals?]

  • Whatever happens, stay calm. [When one parent gets stressed too much, they take a walk. It would be tough to do it solo.]

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