Holiday travel, especially flying, can be a challenging experience for children with autism spectrum disorder. Advance preparation can often make a significant difference in the experience of your child as well as the rest of the family. Here are some steps you can take to prepare in advance:
- Provide the airline with information about your child, including a document stating his or her diagnosis, allergies or medications, as well as potential challenges the child may face during the trip.
- Bring some of your child’s favorite items with you, and keep them handy. These items – which can include electronics, favorite books, or toys – can keep your child entertained during travel. Some children may also enjoy opening “surprise packages” of small toys that you purchase ahead of time.
- Be sure to bring some of your child’s preferred snacks (or special travel treats!) from home. In addition to providing some distraction during long waits or travel times, they can ensure that hunger doesn’t negatively affect your child’s mood.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to a Security Officer in advance about any special needs or challenges your child might have in navigating the airline screening process.
- Have your child wear some form of identification that is readily visible, such as a bracelet, badge, hat, or shoelace tag.
- Take advantage of the resource links below regarding travel and autism.