Did you know that 1 percent of all the children in the United States ages 3-17 are diagnosed with some form of autism? According to The Autism Society, today, between 1 and 1.5 million Americans live with autism.
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Whether you’re the parent or family member of a child with autism, or are living with autism yourself, it is important to understand that traveling with autism may require additional planning. Venturing into unfamiliar surroundings can be especially stressful for autistic travelers, so adding structure to your trip may be important.
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– Many theme parks, airlines, cruise lines and resorts/vacation destinations offer amenities for autistic travelers/those with developmental disabilities. Popular cruise lines that offer accommodations for autistic travelers include Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, and many more. Some of these accommodations may include: early boarding/early disembarkation, assistance with boarding and departure, and special diet plans. Be sure to call ahead and inquire about the services available to special needs travelers.
– Many of our travel professionals and fans have wonderful things to say about the Disney Cruise Line/Walt Disney World for children with autism. Find more information, go online at disneycruise.disney.go.com.
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– When traveling with a child with autism, it may be helpful to print out an “autism fact sheet” with a brief description about autism and how to interact with autistic individuals, specifically your child. These can be passed out to other children or families who may have questions about your child’s behavior.
– Pack familiar items, comfort objects, or “soothers,” such as MP3 players; these reinforcements may help autistic travelers with autism feel calm in otherwise stressful travel situations.
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– Before the trip, spend a significant amount of time with the autistic traveler going over details, what to expect, and establishing/practicing a routine. This will help ease him/her into the idea of traveling.