If the UK government's roadmap out of lockdown progresses as planned, all restrictions on social contact will be lifted on June 21st. Many families will want to take a well-earned holiday or perhaps a trip to see family members from who they have been isolated. If you'll be travelling with a child who has autism, you can help to ensure that everything goes smoothly with these top travel tips from Jobskin®.
Practice Makes Perfect
Individuals with autism often don't respond well to surprises and so you should prepare them for the trip well in advance. Take time to discuss the planned trip: the more detail you can include, the better. Talk about where you're going, why you're going there, how you'll be travelling and what will happen once you arrive. Roleplay is a fantastic way to help prepare a child for a journey.
By its very nature, a trip away from home involves a break in established routines, which can be very distressing to a child with autism. Wherever possible, keep these routines going during your trip: it's perfectly possible to stick to regular eating and sleeping times, for example. Prepare the child's favourite familiar foods in advance for them to eat on the journey as it may be difficult to find them at service stations/cafes etc when you're travelling.
Remember the date on the calendar
Several weeks before travel, mark the travel date on a calendar and have the person with autism cross off each day until the journey. Using a visual aid such as a calendar may help them to prepare for a change in their routine.
Familiarity Breeds Content
Children with autism often form attachments to particular objects such as a special toy or book. If they regularly use an electronic device, ensure that it is fully charged to avoid disappointment. Having a constant supply of items that they enjoy can make their travel experience much easier. It is crucial that such objects are brought along with you on the trip. If a child becomes over-stimulated, a distinct possibility when travelling, their favourite object will help to soothe them with its familiarity.
Let them explain the journey in their own words
Once you have prepared an individual for travel, encourage them to describe the trip to you by using their toys. This will demonstrate how much they have taken on board and will expose any areas of insecurity, or where questions remain unanswered. It may be helpful to prompt them with short questions such as “when are we going?”.
Leave early in the morning
Better still, drive overnight where possible as there will be less traffic on the roads. Your child is more likely to sleep for the first portion of the trip which also helps to relieve any anxieties you may be experiencing yourself.
Give a Sensory Hug!
The Sensory Hug, designed and developed by Jobskin® is a unique garment that, by providing consistent and constant dynamic compression, can help individuals with autism to manage sensory seeking behaviours. Worn comfortably over ordinary clothes, the Sensory Hug has been clinically proven to help calm the wearer, reducing their levels of anxiety and stress. Find out more about the Sensory Hug from Jobskin® on our website.