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How I Prepare to Fly with My Autistic Child

There is a sensory box with pasta and chickpes, some shovels and seashells.  There is a title that reads Autism Friendly Travel How I prepare to fly with my autistic child. Heading out on a vacation with an autistic child can be an experience that is quite different from traveling with non-autistic children.

Heading out on a vacation with an autistic child can be an experience that is quite different from traveling with non-autistic children. Especially if you have an autistic child who doesn’t love to travel. However, there are things you can do to make transitioning from staying at home to traveling much easier for your autistic family. Today, I am going to share what I am doing to help my youngest son become more comfortable with flying. My goal is to utilize specific tools and resources to ensure he enjoys our next flight.

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How I Prepare to Fly with My Autistic Child

An Airplane flying over heard.  You can see the bottom of the plane.

Talk About Flying

One of the things I started doing with my autistic son and How I Prepare to Fly with My Autistic Child is talking about flying more often. I ask him what he thinks he can do if he gets scared on a plane. He might not always have the answer right away, but I share the options we have decided on in the past. Those options include:

  • Using his tablet to watch his favorite show - Since his show is on for X amount of hours, he can watch X amount of episodes by the time we land.

  • Walking around as necessary to work out the wiggles

  • Requesting a child-friendly meal

  • Bringing snacks he loves

  • Snuggle time - If he thinks it will help

We also discuss how it is okay for him to cry a little. And how I am available to talk things through with him during the entire flight.

Visit Attractions with Airplanes

Airplanes can be scary for some autistic children, especially if they haven’t seen one up close before. I talked to my son’s therapist about how to handle flying in the future and she recommended visiting airplane museums and parks.

One of our favorite parks is the Aviation Discovery Park in Pensacola. We love to visit this park to see the control towers in the distance. We also have an excellent vantage point to see all the planes taking off and landing.

I am also planning on taking him to the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola. This will allow him to see the airplanes up close and even sit in the cockpit if he wants.

There are so many other places in Florida that are autism friendly for families like yours. You can easily choose the destinations and attractions that will help your autistic child learn to love traveling.

Pack a Bag of Sensory Items for the Plane Ride

I always find it is helpful to have a bag of sensory items when we travel. I try to pack this bag with items my autistic boys haven’t played with in a while or that are new.

When my boys were much younger, they loved using a sensory activity board. These are perfect for plane rides because the pieces can’t get lost or dropped.

However, now that they are older, they may prefer pop its. They love popping the bubbles and I love that those bubbles can keep them occupied for quite some time.

Of course, when my youngest son gets fidgety, he needs something to keep his hands busy. A fidget toy keychain can be clipped to something, so it doesn’t end up on the ground. Travel toys are soft and have their own bag to travel along with.

Consider Taking an Item Only for Use on the Airplane

The inside of an airplane.  There are passengers watching TV on the back of their seats.

I also recommend considering taking an item with you that your autistic child can only use when they are on the airplane. Since this item is super subjective for every child, I can’t say definitively this is what you should get but you could try a break bag like this one! However, this should be an item that your autistic child will get excited about using during your flight.

Preparing your autistic child for a flight for your next vacation doesn’t need to be extremely difficult. I have shared a few things you can do before you board the plane to get your autistic child ready for this adventure. You may discover other things you can do that will specifically help your child.

Yes, those first couple of flights you take may be challenging, as you both get used to what their emotions will be like while up in the air. However, after a few airplane rides to different destinations, you and your autistic child should be more comfortable spending this time together traveling. I can help you plan your next autistic family vacation. Contact me today to see how I can make sure every aspect of your trip is as autism friendly as you need it to be.

4 photos of different families on vacation.  There is a title that reads How to prepare to travel with an Autistic Child.  Spectrum Getaways

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