Tips for parents travelling abroad with an autistic child

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A family holiday can be the most exciting time of the year but also the most stressful – particularly with young children in tow.

However, for those with an autistic child it can be even more of a daunting prospect, with so many questions that can become too much.

What if your child refuses to go on the plane? What if they scream for the whole journey due to their sensory issues?

What if they are poorly while abroad? What if they are out of their comfort zone and long to come home?

These are some of the thoughts that can enter a parent’s head when thinking about a summer holiday.

Here mother-of-twins Tess Rushin, writing for Leicestershire Live, has shared her top tips for travelling abroad with an autistic child.

This is what she has found out from her travels:

Time Line

This is what Tess has found out from her travels:


  1. Small steps

    Build up to your first flight. We went on many long car journeys in the UK before going to France. We also found that going on the Eurostar helped as the first step to going abroad.


  2. Plan ahead

    Check where you’re going is suitable for your child.

    Which airport will you be flying from? What time will you be travelling there? Will you be staying overnight elsewhere? How much luggage can you take? Do you need to prepare any food for the journey? What about medication?

    Make sure you take appropriate documentation showing evidence of the child’s disability for attractions such as Euro Disney.

    It is best to plan each stage of the journey so you know exactly what you need to prepare, and when.


  3. Contact EVERY provider

    Contact every provider you can beforehand to let them know that you have an autistic child travelling with you. If you can’t contact them beforehand, let them know as soon as you arrive.

    Many airports now have a much better understanding of autism. We departed from Stansted Airport who gave us all ‘Special Flyer’ wristbands and looked after us every step of the way.

    Inform the hotel as soon as you arrive. It is worth them knowing as they may be able to put special arrangements in place. We were able to reserve a table in the dining room to enable us to go to the same table every meal time. 


  4. Prepare your child

    Prepare a visual story for your child and talk them through the holiday in advance. Go through this with them as many times as you can before the holiday.

    Look through holiday brochures – do activities that encourage talking about where you are going and what to expect when you get there.

    Talk to them on a regular basis about the holiday, what to expect, and when.


  5. Prepare a checklist

    Make a checklist of all the items you need to take with you. 

    My daughter wears her ear defenders most of the time, it may be worth considering these if your child has sensory issues around noise. A bag of sensory toys helps while away the time on long journeys.

    My daughter is into sticky tape and stickers, so I always pack plenty of these items on long journeys!


  6. Passport

    Babies and children all have to have their own passports. From 16 years up they can apply for a 10 year passport.


  7. Insurance

    Make sure your travel insurance meets the needs of the autistic child.

    Use a  medical insurance comparison website  to check what’s available.

 

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