Preparation Before Air Travel: Tips for a Smooth Journey with Your Autistic Child

Picture of Written by: Heather Owen

Written by: Heather Owen

Traveling by air with an autistic child can be both exciting and challenging. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey for the whole family, careful preparation is key. Here are some tips to help you prepare before your air travel adventure:

1. Book with a CATP: Certified Autism Travel Professionals (CATPs) have undergone specialized training through IBCCES to assist families with autistic individuals. They can provide valuable insights into travel options and recommend autism-certified accommodations and activities that cater to the needs of your child.

2. Build a Story: Weeks before your trip, create a visual story for your child that outlines the entire air travel process. Include images, videos, and descriptions to help them understand what to expect, including sensory experiences like ear-popping during takeoff and landing. Building this story can increase predictability and familiarity for your child, easing any anxiety they may have about the journey.

3. Calendar Marking: Mark the departure date on a calendar several weeks in advance and have your child check off each day leading up to the flight. This helps them develop a concept of time and visually prepares them for changes in their routine.

4. Comfort Toys and Items: Avoid washing any comfort toys or items before travel, as the familiar scent of home can provide comfort and security during the journey, particularly in environments that may induce sensory overload.

5. Prepare Meals and Travel Bags: Pack pre-packed food items to accommodate dietary restrictions or picky eaters, as airport terminals and airplanes often offer limited food choices. Include chewy foods for oral sensory stimulation and pack a travel bag with digital devices, headphones, and tactile items to soothe sensory overload during the journey.

6. Exercise Before Flight: Engage in physical activities before your flight to help your child release energy and reduce restlessness during extended periods of sitting. Activities like running, jumping on a trampoline, or simply walking the terminal can help alleviate any bottled-up energy before boarding the plane.

By following these preparation tips, you can help ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable air travel experience for your autistic child and the entire family. Happy travels! ✈️🌟

As a Certified Autism Travel Professional, I am here to assist you every step of the way in your travels, from research to booking, to making payments, helping prepare your child for travel, and as an advocate for you at the destination if you encounter any problems- all at no cost to your family!


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