Today, April 2nd, is Autism Awareness Day. We at Family Travel Concierge would like to acknowledge those individuals and families who are affected by autism. As a travel agency, we strongly believe that every single individual deserves to enjoy the gift of travel and adventure, and we are committed to working with all families to create vacation experiences that fit their unique needs.
Traveling with a family member that has special needs poses distinct challenges. Many people on the autism spectrum suffer from anxiety, may have difficulty handling transitions and new situations, and struggle with communicating their desires and needs. However, successful vacations are possible – getting ready for them may just take some preparation and time. We asked one of our regular clients, who has a child with autism, to share her family’s experiences of traveling as a family.
We are a family that loves to travel, and have been doing so since our kids were little babies. Before our son with autism received his diagnosis, he has already flown multiple times and went abroad with us on several trips. We believe that frequent exposure to various activities is important. The more you get out and introduce your child to different experiences, the more used to them they will become, and the better they will tolerate them. We know that every child on the autism spectrum is unique, furthermore, kids may develop anxieties and challenges that they haven’t had before – we have certainly struggled with this. Kids can also develop difficult behaviors that may be a challenge to deal with in public. However, we still believe that avoiding activities altogether is probably not the right approach – at least not for our family. We try to modify our travel to fit our son’s needs as much as we can. For example, if we are flying to a far-away destination, we schedule a longer layover so that our son gets a chance to stretch out and get a decent meal, as we know this will improve his mood and disposition. If we stay at a hotel, we try to pick hotels that have pools, as swimming is a great way for our son to burn off access energy. We have to give our meals an extra thought, but at this point we are so used to doing it – it doesn’t feel like a burden. When we plan a tour of a city or a specific attraction and are not sure our son will be able to tolerate it, we book private tours, which Alex and his associates help us to arrange. Then we are able to customize tours however we want, and not be afraid that our child may be disruptive to others
For any special needs families, I would recommend to identify what kinds of special accommodations they think they may require to make their vacation a success and not to be afraid to request them. We love working with Family Travel Concierge as Alex and his associates help us to reach out to airlines and hotels with our special requests. We find that many airlines and hotels want to help their customers as much as they can, and are very understanding of our needs. I would also advise everyone to be flexible and not to overplan activities. Keeping our son’s needs in mind, we have to limit the number of attractions we visit. It can be disappointing sometimes, but the fortunate side effect is that it also helps us to slow down on our vacations and spend more time just hanging out at our destination, getting to know our surroundings, and not feeling pressured to see as many attractions as possible. Finally, we would advise families not to give up! If your first attempt at a vacation did not go well – don’t be afraid to try again. Kids on the autism spectrum grow and mature, just like typically developing kids do. They understand more and are able to handle more as they get older. Don’t give up your dream of travel with your family – it may be hard in the beginning, but you also may be surprised, and richly rewarded.
Family Travel Concierge specializes in unique travel experiences for ALL clients. For help arranging your next vacation – email is at firstname.lastname@example.org today.