National Autism Awareness Month takes place every year during the month of April. While this is the designated time of year to spread autism awareness, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t share our knowledge the rest of the year too! In addition, traveling with an autistic child can be challenging. But with a little love and patience, everyone can have an amazing and memorable trip.
As parents, family, and friends of autistic children and adults, we know that those with autism usually have trouble communicating. They can even have social and emotional issues that cause difficulty when it comes to being around people they don’t know or when in new situations.
People on the autism spectrum may have different ways of learning and they may react differently to certain situations. But that doesn’t mean they should be treated differently. They still need love, interaction, and the chance to experience the world like everyone else.
3 Things Everyone Can Do to Embrace People with Autism
- Share Information Online
Unfortunately, too many people are not aware of the struggles autistic people have in their daily lives. We can all change this by simply sharing information online. Sharing informed content with friends and family can then be shared with others. And before you know it, this information is spreading virally and people are more aware than ever.
- Get Involved with Autism Associations
Treatments and therapies are always improving, which is why it is important to get involved with autism associations, such as the Autism Society, The National Autism Society, or The Autism Self Advocacy Network. You don’t even need to know an autistic person to get involved with autism associations either. You only need a heart filled with love and the desire to help others.
- Take Care of People You Know with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis
I have heard stories of people who have stayed away from close friends because they don’t know how to deal with that friend’s autistic child. That simply breaks my heart, because every autistic person needs love and support from everyone. If you know a person with autism, take care of them. Sit there and talk to them, share social stories with them, learn about them as a person, and do whatever you feel you should to make them feel accepted for who they are and not who society thinks they should be.
Autistic people are amazing because they know it is awesome to be different! As parents and friends of people diagnosed with autism, we know that there may not be a cure. But there are treatments and learning to change our own mindsets about what autism is and isn’t through education that WE can do. We also know that we cannot change a person. But we can change our way of thinking, so we are more understanding of what an autistic person is going through.
This is especially true if you are traveling and happen to be seated next to a person with autism on a plane. Or you see an autistic family at an attraction in a popular vacation destination. At first glance, most people think that an autistic child is acting out or their parents do not know how to control them. But that really isn’t the case. The child is doing their absolute best and the parents are also doing their best. This is simply a very challenging situation for all of them and a little compassion and understanding can go a long way.
Families with autism need to do a lot of planning ahead for vacations. And while those parents try to consider every single scenario, a meltdown is not always preventable or predictable especially in new situations like unfamiliar places and people.
As a parent of an autistic child, and a travel agent who specializes in travel for autistic families, there are certain things I always do for the vacations I plan. I start by focusing on autism-friendly hotels and resorts. There are more out there than you think!
When it comes to planning activities, I make sure I only schedule one or two activities per day. This allows for plenty of down time without the stress of rushing. I’ve also learned on my own journey with my son, that autistics love the water and through work with other clients I always ensure a hotel accommodation or vacation home comes with a pool.
Traveling also brings new foods and the reluctance to try some of them. While my own son is getting better at trying different foods, I make sure I always have some favorite snacks on hand for when he is hungry.
There are so many ways families are traveling with an autistic child successfully, and my goal is to help them achieve those dreams. But my main goal in life is to make sure that no autistic person feels like they are being looked at differently. They may be different, but that doesn’t mean they need to be treated differently by strangers. A little acceptance can go a long way in an autistic person’s eyes.
Are you looking at traveling with an autistic child? Let us know what you do in the comments below so we can help share the information to other families!
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