Are you ready to make your 2021 vacations better than ever? I feel like we all are since everyone missed out on travel opportunities back in 2020. I completely understand if you are a little concerned about traveling with your autistic child though. But there are so many options when it comes to autism-friendly vacations. Therefore, I want you to remember that travel is for everyone!
I could spend hours telling you about every destination and attraction that you can visit with your family. But I thought I would focus my thoughts on taking a spring break vacation in either Georgia or Florida. Both these states offer warm weather during the weeks of spring break. They also have a plethora of autism-friendly options for you to choose from. I guarantee you will find plenty of opportunities your entire family will love! If you are already loving this list and you need some information or help planning a trip reach out right now and I'll be more than happy to help!
Spring Break Vacation in Georgia and Florida for Autistic Children
There are so many autism-friendly places to visit for spring break in Georgia and Florida. Many of these places have trained their employees, so they interact with families with autism properly. Once you add in all the other accommodations they have made to ensure you have a fabulous experience, you won’t be able to deny that traveling with your autistic child is possible.
Autism-Friendly Attractions in Georgia
The Children’s Museum of Atlanta
There are two floors to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. Your family will love exploring the multiple exhibit areas. This museum is currently open every day except Wednesday. You are welcome to visit at any time, but I recommend going during their Sensory Friendly Sundays. The admission price is lowered for these sessions. The lights and sounds are also adjusted, so your autistic child will not become overstimulated. You must purchase your tickets in advance for this event, so planning ahead is crucial.
The Georgia Aquarium will make your visit extraordinary from the moment you arrive. They offer expedited entrances, quiet zones, and sensory bags to all their guests on the autism spectrum. The staff has been trained to help in difficult situations, so do not be surprised if they happen to notice a meltdown beginning at the same time you do. They will do their best to ensure those meltdowns do not escalate by pointing you to the nearest quiet space or telling you about something going on that you can then use as a distraction.
The Georgia Ballet
If your child loves ballet or the theater, you will be happy to know you can take them to the Georgia Ballet. The ballet has added sensory-friendly performances to their schedule. The productions they do are shortened to one hour. The house lights will also be on with minimal flashing lights. The sounds will be lowered too, so no one gets overwhelmed.
Tybee Island is the perfect option for spring break vacations with autistic children. The beach is wonderful when you want to take advantage of the water. You can even kayak through the salt marshes if your children love to kayak. Add in the other attractions on the island, as well as the nearby places to eat and shop, and you have an amazing destination your entire family will love! Do you need some help planning this trip? Contact me and I'll be more than happy to chat with you about planning your next family vacation!
Autism-Friendly Attractions in Florida
Disney Theme Parks
There are four Disney theme parks in Orlando, Florida. They are Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom. As we all know, each one of these theme parks is crowded every day. And there is a lot of hustle and bustle too. But Disney employees are amazing when it comes to accommodating families with special needs. Their program, DAS, or Disability Access Service will allow you to have your Magic Band scanned. Once your band has been scanned, you can return to the ride at the end of your wait time. This program will eliminate any meltdowns that may come from you waiting in line for too long.
LEGOLAND Florida has gone above and beyond when it comes to being autism-friendly. It is the only LEGOLAND park to partner with Autism Speaks. The entire park has multiple quiet spaces and rooms. One quiet space has numerous sensory-stimulating and hands-on activities. Every employee has received training in working with families with autism. Volunteers have received the same training. A Hero Pass is also available for people with autism. These passes ensure you won’t need to stand in line for any longer than necessary for any of the rides.
Time at SeaWorld can be amazing for autistic children. SeaWorld offers an accessibility guide that will share which rides and attractions will be best for your family. Their Ride Accessibility Pass will ensure that you never need to wait in line for long at specific rides. You will be given specific times to go and ride each ride on the list.
We all know how children with autism love to be in the water! A beach vacation is a perfect option for spring break vacations with children with autism because you get that relaxation component with the water. There are tons of beaches in the state of Florida. The best beaches in Florida include St. Pete Beach, Clearwater Beach, and Vero Beach. However, if you want a beach without a lot of people, I recommend checking out the beaches on Sanibel Island and Captiva.
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium is located in Tampa, Florida. This aquarium worked with the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities, or CARD, at the University of South Florida to create online storyboards. These storyboards can be used prior to your visit to show your autistic child what they can expect when they are at the aquarium. There are also break areas you can use at the aquarium when your child gets overstimulated.
Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park
Zoo Tampa also worked with CARD to create storyboards, so children with autism will know what to expect during their visit. Everything from the petting zoo to feeding the alligators is covered, so you can share all this information with your child prior to your vacation.
5 Tips for Traveling with Children with Autism
There are quite a few things you can do in advance of your vacation to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.
1.Always Plan Ahead
No matter what, you should always plan ahead! This means planning which direction you will go when visiting theme parks. I also recommend learning where all the restrooms and quiet areas are located, so you can get to them quickly as needed.
2. Be Prepared for the Heat
Vacations during spring break mean the temperatures can get quite warm, depending on where you are visiting. Since children with autism are sensitive to heat, you will want to have a plan in place to keep them as cool as possible. This can include taking frequent breaks inside air-conditioned spaces and anything else you can think of to keep your child from getting too hot.
3. Break Down the Long Walks
Walking for hours is not something any child with autism likes to do. It is best to take lots of breaks throughout the day, so no one gets worn out too quickly. I also recommend doing rides at theme parks that are close together at the same time, instead of walking from one end of the park to the other multiple times a day.
4. Bring Your Resources
I understand you cannot bring your entire home with you when you are on vacation. However, you can bring an extra dry erase board and marker. You can use those two things to make changes to your schedule as needed. A timer can be handy because it will allow your child to know when they need to move on to the next item on your list. Charging cords or batteries will be helpful when electronic devices begin to lose their charge. All these items can be a lifesaver in the middle of a trying day.
5. Always Create Down Time
You know your child cannot be on the go from sunup till sundown. So, don’t jam-pack your schedule and think they can. It never ends well! Instead, create some downtime and quiet time into your days. This will give you some time to breathe and allow your child to regroup before you move on to the next item on your itinerary.
There are so many places where you can go on a spring break vacation with your autistic child. But Florida and Georgia are excellent options, because of the nice weather and an abundance of autism-friendly options.
I want you to know that with me doing the heavy lifting, you won’t need to worry about anything before or during your trip. I do all the hard work, so you can keep up on your to-do list and get that much-deserved rest and relaxation you need. Contact me today and let’s get started planning your autism-friendly spring break vacation! I guarantee you will be ready to plan your summer vacation as soon as you get back!