Tips For Preparing Children With Autism For the Airport

Tips For Preparing Children With Autism For the Airport

Mobile Therapy Centers knows families are beginning to get ready for winter break and that traveling is often on families agendas to get away, relax, and enjoy quality time with one another. However, the days leading up to travel can be a stressful time of finalizing plans and packing your belongings.

For caregivers of children, teens and young adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), there is an added worry of how their child is going to behave in the airport. Are they going to be able to tolerate the large crowds? Are they going to wait in line during security?

Mobile Therapy Centers provides ABA Therapy to children diagnosed with ASD, and we use a variety of techniques to prepare children for new social situations and environments. We are excited to share some of these tips with you to help you prepare your child with ASD for their next flight!

1) Make a social story: A social story is a great way to prepare your child for what to expect in the airport and on the flight. For example, first we will arrive to the airport, then we will check our luggage, then we will go through security, then we will wait at the gate, then we will board the plane, then we will take off, then we will watch a movie while we fly, then we will land, then we will get off of the plane, and then we will pick up our luggage from the baggage claim. Go through the social story a few times every day, beginning a few weeks prior to your trip, especially since this is a longer social story.
2) Watch videos: Show your child videos of the airport, airport security and planes. This will help provide your child with a visual of what the process will look like.
3) Act it out: Get the whole family involved and act out the steps of going to the airport and flying in a plane. Have some family members play the role of the airport workers and flight attendants. Have one family member play themselves and act as though they are going through the airport with the child. You could act out all of the steps with your child or just the steps that you think your child may struggle with.
4) Bring favorite activities: Pack your child’s favorite toys, videos and video games that are feasible to bring on the plane. Make sure to have all devices charged ahead of time, and pack all necessary chargers and portable chargers. Also, make sure to have variety so that your child is more likely to stay engaged the entire flight.
5) Pack snacks and meals: Especially if your child has any specific dietary restrictions, pack a variety of snacks and meals for your child.
6) Request preboarding: Call the airline and request preboarding for the flight. This will ensure that you can get on the plane ahead of the other passengers. This may be less stimulating for your child than walking onto the plane with the crowd of passengers.
7) Bring noise cancelling headphones: If your child is sensitive to loud sounds, have your child wear noise-cancelling headphones on the flight.

Mobile Therapy Centers hopes that these tips can be helpful in preparing you and your child for your trip this winter break! We wish you a fun and relaxing time, and remember, you’ve got this!