Summer is here! Kids are out of school and parents are scrambling to find ways to fill up all the hours in a day! (Pretty sure time actually moves slower as soon as kids get out of school.) If you’re looking for things to do sometimes some travel is required. Whether it be a long car ride to get to a summer fun destination or even a road trip, here are some tips that we compiled from sources like North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Parent Coaching for Autism, Autistic Globetrotting, and Parents.com.
Before the trip (long term):
- Build appropriate car behavior with your child
- Take shorter car trips to allow your child to get comfortable with the sensory experience of a car ride
- Practice appropriate behavior at rest stops (ex: public bathrooms, drive-through, welcome centers, etc.)
- Figure out if any of your child’s interests can be made into family pit stops (ex: a love of dinosaurs can result in a trip to the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in New Mexico)
Before the trip (short-term):
- Prepare your child
- Involve your child in planning if possible
- Have a clear itinerary and maybe print a copy for your child
- Pack your child’s favorite activities to keep him or her entertained
- Pack your child’s comfort items to begin to create a familiar environment in the car
- Pack food that meets your child’s dietary needs in case you can’t find any on the road
- Make a “Meltdown Survival Kit” that includes items that can calm your child in case of sensory overload (ex: noise canceling headphones, earplugs, sunglasses, etc.)
During the trip:
- Try to keep on schedule
- Make use of any audio books, favorite activities, and comfort items that you packed!
- Stay alert to your child’s emotional state to try to prevent adverse reactions
- Do your best! Road trips are always going to be slightly unpredictable but as long as you have your child’s best interests at heart everything will go (more or less) smoothly!
Gasbuddy: Useful for tracking gas prices and locations!
Triposos: Allows you to download offline maps if you’ll be traveling through dead zones like deserts or mountains!
Waze: Great for getting live traffic updates!
Have any more tips, tools, or stories about road trips with individuals with autism? Let us know!