As we approach the summer, many families are starting to make plans for camp, trips or cruises. Some parents of children with autism may feel as though it would be impossible to take a vacation with their son or daughter because of the child’s difficulty in behavior and communication and inflexibility in new situations (a characteristic of autism).
I recently came across a newspaper article that talked about Royal Caribbean’s first autism-friendly cruise line.
They have been working with an organization called, Autism of the seas “…to help its guests with autistic family members enjoy their cruise”. The following are some of the available resources:
• Priority boarding
• Sensory related toys and autism friendly modifications to activities
• One experienced and trained staff to work with every three people with autism.
• Autism friendly movies with lights not entirely turned off. The sound would also be at a low volume and guests are allowed to walk around and talk during the film.
• Dietary offerings such as gluten and dairy-free food
• Personalized social story to help individuals with autism adapt and understand what will happen on the cruise. For more information check out Royal Caribbean Autism Friendly Cruise and Autism of the Seas.
Here are some other vacation websites focused on helping families with a child with autism plan their vacation.
• ASD Vacations – help you develop an Individualized Vacation Plan. They will ask about your child and family’s needs, then they begin the planning and booking.
• Autism Adventure Travel – specialists will help you book your trip. They are a brunch of PEEKS Cruises & Tours.
• Autistic Traveler – offers information and tips on planning a trip
• Bridges to Adventure – help organize outdoor trips for children with autism and their families
I hope that all families that have a child with special needs will be able to experience the joys of taking a vacation together; a trip that will allow them to create memories they will never forget and offer relaxation for the whole family!
Dr. Frances Victory received her PhD in Developmental Psychology at CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. Her thesis was titled, "Exploring the Role of Perceived Religiosity on Daily Life, Coping, and Parenting for Jewish Parents of Children with Autism." You can reach her at email@example.com