Written by: Dr. Rick Manista
While family vacations are supposed to be a time of fun and bonding, traveling with children on the Autism Spectrum can be more challenging. Children on the spectrum are prone to meltdowns that can occur at the drop of the hat. Families have to be careful about sensory issues, dietary restrictions, schedules and how others respond to them. Here is a list of family friendly vacation destinations that are also autism friendly.
Besides getting all the chocolate you can eat, Hershey offers individualized service for families. Children on the spectrum can have a wide variety of symptoms and needs. Hershey partnered with Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania to create a new service. Hershey gives guests a questionnaire to families to identify their individual needs. The families then receive a detailed list of rides and attractions that would best suit the families. No unexpected surprises!
Legos are the most beloved toy of the Autism community. It is no surprise that Legoland offers amazing services as well. Legoland consulted with Autism Speaks to become entirely autism-friendly. They create simulating sensory activities, quiet areas, and training the entire staff on autism awareness and sensitivity.
The first cruise line to be called “autism friendly”, the Royal Caribbean has a wide variety of activities in a small settings. All of the staff members have been trained on autism awareness. They offer modified activities for children, sensory friendly shows, and sensory toys for children. Plush everyone would love the exotic ports of call.
With the water sports, kids clubs and amazing beaches, Beaches Resorts have partnered with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Starts to obtain their autism certification. Besides having a variety of dining options, they also offer “Amazing Art with Julia”, and art class with Sesame Street’s first character with autism.
Myrtle Beach was named the first autism-friendly city! A resident created an initiative to train hotels, restaurants and tours to be autism friendly. Families can get a “CAN” card that lists various businesses that participate. Families can get to the head of the line or even get a meal faster at a restaurant.
Shannon Airport became Europe’s first airport to have a sensory room. This room is for children and adults with neurodevelopment challenges to relax before a flight. The room includes a wheel projector, cooler-chaznign LED lights, bubble tube, and undulating wavy wall.
London has various quiet green spaces for families and calm museums to tour. The West End frequently has children’s shows and adaptive shows for children with autism. Many airlines, such as Delta and Virgin Atlantic, offer rehearsal programs for children, to help them prepare and know what to expect during their flight!
The best for last (and probably most expensive) Disney world offers a wide variety of accommodations for children on the spectrum. This includes a rider swap system, where one parent rides while another parent waits with a child, break areas, and tons of dietary options. For guests who cannot tolerate long lines, Disney’s Disability Access Service allows guests to schedule a return time for an attraction that is similar to the wait time. They also have a an online guide for guests with disabilities. They have also introduced “After Hours Events” where guests can purchase a ticket for $125, go to the park with no lines and all you can eat ice cream and popcorn! This option is great for children who cannot tolerate lines, crowds and the heat.
Photo from: Pexels
Autism Travel Destinations. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://autismtravel.com/
Best vacations for Kids with Autism. (n.d.). Retrieved from https:/.
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles