If you’re the parent or caregiver of an autistic child, you should know that learning the right tips will help you to care for your child while you’re travelling and will also reduce stress levels for both of you. Today, we’d like to share some practical tips on how to fly with an autistic child.
1. Look for Airport Resources
There are certain airports which have autism access resources in place, so we recommend calling the airport that you’ll be flying out of and finding out whether these services are available. Some airports allow parents and autistic kids to do “practice runs” through airports, including their security areas. It’s all about helping to familiarize children with autism.
2. Let the Airline Know
Letting your airline know that you’ll be travelling with an autistic child is important. When you do give notice, you should ask for bulkhead seats which offer your child more space to move around and make it impossible for him or her to kick seats.
3. Consider Food and Drink
Proper diet will help your child to handle travel in a calmer manner. So, be sure that you know whether meals will be served on your flight. If so, you may wish to order a gluten-free meal for your child. Also, you may want to bring food which is appropriate and healthy along with you.
4. Request Priority Boarding
Let your airline know beforehand that pre-boarding is an option that you want. Then, get to your gate long before the flight and re-request pre-boarding. When you do pre-board, your child will have more time to become familiar with the new environment before a lot of other people are around.
5. Pack the Necessities
When you travel, make sure that you have everything that you will need on-hand, including headphones which cancel sound, paperwork about your child’s autism, toys, books, electronic hardware and accessories. Don’t forget re-chargers for electronic toys.
6. Take Care of Yourself
Yes, you need to think about your child, but you matter, too. So, you should place a priority on getting sufficient rest, eating well and feeling good before you fly with your autistic child. Your state of mind and well-being will affect your ability to manage stress.
7. Don’t Wash Items Your Child Loves
If your child has a plush toy or blanket which comforts him or her, it’s better not to wash it before the trip. When you don’t wash it, it may have a scent which is familiar and makes your child feel safer.
8. Create a Journal Beforehand
To make your child more comfortable with future travel, consider getting a cheap notebook and filling it with pictures which relate to the travelling experience that you two of you are going to share. Look at the book daily with your child. This will help him or her to understand what’s going to happen. Familiarization is important and it’s one of the keys to enjoying a calmer, more pleasant flight with your son or daughter.