Holidays are a great time to spend with family and friends, but holiday travel can be stressful for those with autism and their families. However, with some advance planning, you can make car trips easier for everyone. Here are some helpful tips for preparing for a holiday car trip.
Pack Toys, Games And Other Entertainment Items
Besides packing familiar toys and games, consider purchasing new toys and games. They don’t have to be expensive. Opening and exploring the new toys will be a good way to keep your child occupied and happy throughout your trip. Other things to consider might be favorite books or music. Portable devices such as computer tablets or DVD players are great attention grabbers. Noise cancelling headphones can be used to help prevent overstimulation.
Besides entertainment, be sure to pack favorite snacks and drinks to avoid food related triggers.
Rehearse With Pictures And Stories
Illustrated stories and pictures can help prepare your child. A visual schedule of your trip could help your child know what to expect along the way and help avoid meltdowns that could occur from the unfamiliar.
Avoid Sibling Conflicts
If there is more than one child in the car, make sure everyone has his or her own space and toys. Consider putting pillows or similar barriers to mark off each child’s space. Make sure there are headphones available so each child can listen to his or her own movies or music to avoid those conflicts.
Don’t Try To Drive Too Long Without Breaks
If the drive will be for several hours or longer, plan rest breaks where your child can get out, stretch, go to the bathroom and escape the car for a bit. If your child indicates a break is needed before the planned one, it is better to take an unscheduled stop than keep to a rigid schedule if it helps prevent a meltdown.
Build Skills Prior To The Family Trip
If your child has a hard time traveling, take some short trips to practice. Reward your child for good behavior such as keeping the seatbelt on or reading quietly. Have a set of rules in place and reward your child at the end of the drive for following the rules. To get your child accustomed lo longer travels, you could gradually take longer trips and continue to reward your child for following the rules.
At Creating Brighter Futures, We Can Gladly Help
For more great tips to reduce stress when traveling, or to find out more information about our autism treatment center, call Creating Brighter Futures today at (734) 926-0740.