7 Tips for Taking a Vacation with a Teenager with Autism
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This past weekend I was able to go on a little vacation to Kansas City with my brother, mom, and husband. We left Thursday evening and were able to come back Sunday afternoon. This was a nice little get away for our family to spend some quality time together. As a family, we have learned over the years some tips and strategies to help my brother have success and fun while on vacation. As many of you know, a new experience can be difficult for a child or teenager with autism to handle.
Here are some tricks that we have learned over the years to help create a fun and safe experience for my brother while on vacation.
- Always learn to be patient. I feel this is key in all areas of our lives, but it still stays true on a vacation. When going on a vacation, we get out of our normal every day routine and there are going to be unexpected events. This can be difficult for my brother to handle when he doesn't know what could happen next. We always try to be patient in every new situation to give my brother time to process each situation.
- Pack food we know he likes. My brother is still a picky eater, but he has gotten so much better at the willingness to try more foods. It is very difficult for us to go to a restaurant together and sit down to have a meal even today. My mom does a wonderful job of packing foods and snacks that she knows he will like so that when we get to the hotel we don't have to go and find a grocery store or a specific fast food restaurant that he will only eat at.
- Do your research before you go and find activities you know your child will enjoy. I know this one may seem a little obvious, but do some research before you go to make sure there is a special activity that your child/teenager will really look forward to when you go. We want to make sure the trip will be exciting and fun for everyone! For our trip this weekend, my brother was super excited to go to Dave and Buster's! He had never been to one before and was so excited to go! He was the one that actually did the research beforehand and found out we were staying close by. He did his own research and sought out an activity that he knew he really wanted to do. In fact, we went two days 🙂
- Let your teenager have some choices and say in what they want to do. My mom has always been great at this, she does her best to make sure we can all try to do something we want to do on the trip. She gives my brother choices every day of the trip to let my brother do what he wants to do. If we are trying to do something as a family where he doesn't have a choice, then we just tell him we are going to go do this and it will be so much fun! Let's go! In some instances, during the day he doesn't always have a choice, but when he can we make sure to give him a choice so he can choose what he wants to do.
- Make sure you have some down time to rest. A vacation is usually fast paced and exciting, but our family always makes sure we make time to rest back at the hotel. My brother loves just having downtime to play on his iPad or to get on his computer. We make sure he has this during his day to help regulate his sensory system. Make sure you don't forget what types of activities help to regulate your child while on vacation.Make sure you find ways to incorporate that throughout your vacation to allow your child to be their best!
- Try to keep to a typical sleeping routine. My mom and brother are night owls, and I am not one any longer 🙁 Now, with my work schedule I usually try to go to bed earlier. I know that my mom does her best to try to keep my brother on his regular sleeping schedule to help him have enough energy to enjoy the next day's activities.
- We always try to pack some extra clothes, activities, and a pillow. Our family is one of those families that always brings too much, but we have learned that sometimes it is better to have too much than not the right stuff for your child. My mom does a great job of packing some extra clothes or outfits for my brother incase something were to happen and he wouldn't like an outfit one day or it got dirty. She also does a great job of packing activities she know he likes. For example she packed some of his favorite things right now to help with the drive and waiting times in the hotel. She packed his fidget spinner, headphones, iPad, and putty. She also does a great job of bringing an extra pillow so that he will have something we know he likes when he goes to sleep. Not every hotel has great pillows and beds, but at least this way we know he has a pillow he likes.
Do you have any tips and strategies that have worked well for your family when you go on a vacation with your child or teenager? We would love to hear your tips in the comments below! We can always learn more to best be able to help my brother!
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