Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects millions of people worldwide, and traveling with a loved one on the autism spectrum, with an autistic child can be a challenging experience.
However, with careful planning, it is possible to enjoy autism friendly holidays in Europe. In this article, we will explore some tips and destinations that can help make your trip enjoyable for everyone.
Plan Ahead For Your Autistic Child
The key to a successful autism holiday is planning ahead. Research the destination and accommodation options that can cater to the needs of individuals with autism.
Contact hotels and tour operators ahead of time to discuss their policies and accommodations for people with autism.
Consider the Mode of Transportation
Flying can be a stressful experience for people with autism, as any new environment can, with long lines, security checks, and the unfamiliar surroundings of the airport. Consider alternative modes of transportation, such as trains or ferries, which can be less overwhelming for individuals on the spectrum.
If you have to use an airport, even London Gatwick airport which has noisy areas, consider if you need to arrange assistance. Special assistance at the airport needs to be booked far in advance by an adult. Expect delays.
Choose the Right Destination
When choosing a holiday destination, it’s important parents consider the sensory experience of the location.
Crowded cities, loud noises, and bright lights can be overwhelming for individuals with autism. Some destinations that are more suitable for an autism-friendly holiday include:
- Rural locations with natural surroundings, such as the Swiss Alps or the Italian countryside.
- Coastal towns with a relaxed pace, such as the Algarve in Portugal or the Cote d’Azur in France.
- Small, family-friendly resorts that cater to families with children on the autism spectrum, such as the Costa del Sol in Spain.
Select Autism-Friendly Accommodations
When choosing accommodation, it’s important families look for cottages, hotels and resorts that are autism-friendly. Some accommodations have special programs, activities, and facilities designed to accommodate individuals on the spectrum. Examples include:
- The Autism Friendly Holidays Hotels program in the UK, which lists hotels that have undergone autism awareness training and have special facilities for special needs.
- Autism on the Seas, a company that provide holidays for autism-friendly cruises and resorts with trained staff and sensory-friendly activities.
- Sunwing Family Resorts, which offer autism-friendly accommodation and activities for families with children on the spectrum.
- GiteDordogne.co.uk offers autism friendly holidays in South West France for the whole family, tailoring a luxury holiday villa for families with an autistic child.
Plan Sensory-Friendly Activities
When planning activities, consider the sensory experience of the activity. Some individuals with autism may have difficulty with loud noises, crowds, or unfamiliar surroundings. Consider activities such as:
- Nature walks, which can be calming and soothing for individuals on the spectrum.
- Museums with sensory-friendly exhibits or guided tours.
- Quiet beaches or swimming pools with fewer people and less noise.
- Theme parks with special accommodations for autistic children, such as LEGOLAND in Denmark or Europa Park in Germany.
Self Catering Facilities
Get self catering facilities so you can control what you eat and when, for the whole family.
Enhance disability awareness by wearing the sunflower lanyard and using Autism Headphones, which visually announce that the wearer is autistic.
A Games Room at Autism Friendly Holidays
A games room or sensory room, with sensory toys, table tennis, a trampoline and toys for other disabilities. And a quieter area.
Wi Fi For Each Family Member
It can be helpful for autistic people to de-stim using gadgets online so WiFi is needed on holiday, as well as for any other family member and guests.
Pet on Autism Friendly Holidays?
Bringing the family dog on holidays can be fantastic to help to keep continuity on holiday.
Is There Open Space?
Adults and kids need room to move, relax and have fun, especially children with additional needs, on holidays. It usually means you are further from noisy areas. Parents also need a break, as does the child with disabilities.
What Famous Cities?
What cities and towns would be the best experience on your holidays with the family?
In conclusion, autism friendly holidays in Europe requires careful planning, but it is possible to have a successful and enjoyable trip for everyone, including your autistic children and any family member.
By selecting the right destination, accommodation, and activities, autistic people on the spectrum can have a stress-free and memorable holiday. Make your holiday booking once you have the understanding of all this advice.