When you have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, high functioning or otherwise, outings can be tricky. Fear of the unknown is not only scary for the child, but brings a lot of apprehension for the parent as well. Luckily, there are a few “tricks of the trade” available that can help.
A backpack that will fit your child has multiple benefits. Many children with ASD love the feeling of weighted items. They find comfort in the compressing feeling they get from the weight and it helps calm them. Having a backpack is an inexpensive way of fulfilling this. It also helps to have the child’s comfort items readily available. You can add any toileting items such as pull-ups, diapers and wipes, their favorite cup, a snack, etc. The possibilities here are endless.
Headphones are a great tool for children with noise sensitivities. A great rule of thumb is to keep a pair in each vehicle you may travel in and also a pair in your bag, purse or backpack. Headphones can be purchased rather inexpensively from several online retailers, such as Amazon (Search noise cancelling headphones for children), as well as local sporting goods stores. Some stores will allow people to try headphones on, therefore, it may be preferable to go in store to purchase your first pair so that you have an idea of what size you will need. Even if you aren’t allowed to try on, at least you will be able to better judge the size when you see them in person.
Fidgit toys are often very useful when you are parenting children with anxiety, as is common in children with ASD. This serves as a distraction for the child when they are in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar environment. These toys are readily available in most local or online stores, if you know what to look for. Doing a quick Google search for “Fidgit toys for kids” will yield thousands of results and make it easier for you to pick the toys that you think will best comfort your child.
Snacks, snacks, snacks. Not enough can be said for bringing along a few of your child’s favorite snacks, especially when you will be in a place where you are unfamiliar of the available variety of food. So many children with ASD struggle with feeding issues like low muscle tone or oral sensory sensitivities. Snacks can very well be the difference between a successful outing and meltdown city. No parent wants to travel with a child who is grumpy from hunger and in kids with ASD this is multiplied exponentionally. Most places will be much more accommodating of a “no outside food or drink” policy when they are informed of the special need of a child, so don’t be afraid to call ahead and explain the situation.
Excursions with any special needs child can certainally be difficult and as a parent, it is definitely advised that you do your research on any venue before attempting an outing in an unfamiliar environment. Hopefully, with some of these items in your possession, you can help make traveling with Autism Spectrum Disorder just a little bit easier.