Do you have an autistic child who doesn’t want to travel? Do you really want them to change their mind, so you can head out on one adventure after another? I hear you and I can definitely relate! Let me share a little bit about my story…
I am a mom of two autistic boys. As with all other children, my boys are complete opposites. My oldest son is a thrill-seeker! He loves roller coasters. He enjoys exploring in the forest and being outside. Big, rough waves at the beach don’t scare him. Basically, he is a very curious child who is up for almost anything.
Now, my youngest son loves to stay home where things are comforting and familiar. He doesn’t enjoy change much. He always needs to know what is going on, what we are doing, and where we are going. He is also the type of person who wants to go home when he wants to and will have a meltdown if we don’t go home right away. I am talking straight home, do not pass go, and do not collect $200 type of thing.
Planning a vacation for these two different autistic children can be really challenging. I mean, my oldest son loves to fly. My youngest son dislikes flying. It could be due to the fact he simply isn’t used to it since we couldn’t fly the last couple of years.
So, what do I recommend if you have children like mine and one of your kids doesn’t want to travel? I always say to start small. Consider tackling a few small local trips. This is what I do with my youngest son.
We happen to have a resort near where we live. So, we head there for a night or two and enjoy some downtime. We participate in some of the activities or use the amenities like the swimming pool. I always listen to him when he says he is done and needs to go back to the room too. This is how I get him to trust me, so he knows I will listen to him wherever we are traveling.
Now, I do bring my respite care provider with us occasionally. They can take my youngest son back to the room, while I stay at the pool or beach with my oldest son.
I have found it is necessary to keep our travel times to five hours or less right now. This is why the nearby resort is so perfect for our current travel needs. I am hopeful that we can build up to longer road trips, and even short direct flights, in the near future.
If your autistic child is still against travel, even small trips, you do have other options. There is nothing wrong with traveling with your kids separately.
So, I will ask my family to watch my youngest son, while I take my oldest son on an adventure. We usually head out to theme parks right now, because he loves the thrills he gets on the rides. I really love the bonding time we get together during these solo adventures.
Don’t worry, I bond with my youngest during our times at home where he is the most comfortable. We get plenty of one on one time there.
Right now, I am taking small baby steps with my youngest in hopes that he will think of traveling as fun and not scary in the future. We may have a really good vacation one day and then encounter a couple of steps back for the next one. That’s okay! I am keeping my eye on the prize, which is the fact that in his own time, he will come to learn how to love travel as much as his brother.
If you have a child who doesn’t want to travel, maybe consider a small local trip. Let your autistic child see what a hotel room is like near where you live. The worst that can happen is you need to drive home to sleep that night. The best thing that can happen is your autistic child realizes they love staying in a hotel! You really never know what will pique a child’s interest or when it will happen. During a past trip to a local area hotel, my youngest son has been asking if we can go back to the “H hotel” because we stayed at a Holiday Inn Resort. All you can really do is offer support and options, so that travel is a possibility in the future. Contact me if you want help planning an autism-friendly vacation for your family or start by taking small steps and planning a local trip your autistic child will love.