For families, vacation is a much-needed time to bond and experience one-of-a-kind adventures. Studies prove that vacation can reduce stress and even help us live longer, However, some parents might face vacation planning with dread.
For parents with kids on the spectrum, vacation risks being the opposite of relaxing. Deviating from the norm can overstimulate and stress an autistic child. This may quickly turn a once-tranquil retreat into a family nightmare.
If you’re struggling to find ideas for autism friendly vacations, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are plenty of vacation destinations that are fun for the whole family and appropriate for autistic kids too!
Read on to get inspired for your next family trip.
1. Caribbean Cruise
If you thought a cruise was never in the cards for your family, think again. Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruises, and Carnival Cruise offer “autism-friendly” cruises, full of fun and controlled activities for spectrum kids.
Disney even partners with “Autism on the Seas” to design vacations that meet the special needs of their passengers.
Many cruise lines offer autism-friendly kid programs, movies, and sensory toys. Staff members get autism awareness training. Quiet areas such as staterooms are only a few steps away at all times.
Spectrum kids will love exploring the complex workings of a cruise ship. Families can choose from many activities at different beaches and port-of-calls along the way.
You may consider Greece to be a strange trip on this list. You’re in for a surprise! A company called A Million Senses has sought to make it the number-one destination for spectrum families.
Their mission is to serve those on the spectrum. A Million Senses offers packages to Athens, Crete, Skiathos, and more. They collaborate with Greek accommodations that cater to the needs of ASD families.
The travel company goes out of their way to organize quiet hotels, as well as daily activities led by professional therapists. They have a variety of packages tailored to the needs of each family.
3. Austin, Texas
Are you intimidated to take your spectrum child to the hustle and bustle of the big city? Austin might change your mind.
The Wyndham Garden Hotel in Austin has rooms designed for families with autistic children. Their “thoughtful” rooms include quiet locations, kid-friendly games and snacks, extra safety features, and chemical-free cleaners.
Austin itself has excellent activities, such as the Thinkery Children’s Museum and the Austin Aquarium. Try visiting the Nature and Science Center for educational fun! Enjoy many outdoor adventures such as taking a dip in Barton Springs or going on a hiking trip.
4. LEGOLAND Florida
LEGOLAND and Autism Speaks have developed a special resort experience just for spectrum families. Sensory, hands-on activities are available all throughout the park. Complementary resources such as weighted blankets and headphones are plentiful.
Quiet rooms exist throughout the resort, even in the water park. All staff train in autism sensitivity. Guest Services provides autistic guests with a pass to skip standby lines.
Each ride and attraction comes with a step-by-step review. These guides offer a visual walkthrough that prevents guests from being startled by noises or lights.
This allows families to predetermine if each activity is appropriate for their child.
5. Morgan’s Wonderland
San Antonio, Texas is home to the first “Ultra-Accessible Family Fun Park.” Morgan’s Wonderland, which spans 25 acres, caters exclusively to special needs children.
Some of their attractions include adaptive rides, a Sensory Garden, and a stocked fishing lake. All special needs and differently-abled children receive free admission to the park.
Worried about how to keep the travel stress to a minimum on your way to your destination? Find out more about how to conquer stressful travel with BlueSprig’s guide to traveling with your autistic child.
6. Sesame Place
Sesame Street and their autistic character Julia have been great autism ambassadors. Sesame Place takes this a step further with its “See Amazing in All Children” initiative. They strive to accommodate and enrich the lives of autistic children.
Located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, Sesame Place includes plenty of shows, attractions, and programs. Kids will love the water park, and interacting with trained and friendly “characters” from the beloved show.
The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards has designated Sesame Place as a Certified Autism Center.
They are the first theme park in the world to receive such a certification. Their staff undergoes extensive training in social skills, emotional awareness, and sensory awareness.
An extensive accessibility program and a sensory guide ensures children are well-equipped for all areas and attractions.
7. Smuggler’s Notch Resort
If your family enjoys the outdoors, a trip to Vermont’s Smuggler’s Notch is the perfect getaway. Their tours and adaptive programs designed for autistic children will provide hours of fun!
Children can enjoy activities like horseback riding, private swimming lessons, hikes, and more. The resort features four waterslides, eight pools, and endless outdoor adventures.
Families will also love the quiet time provided by private condos with kitchens and multiple bedrooms.
Autism Friendly Vacations Are Awesome!
Having an autistic child in the family doesn’t mean you’ll face a shortage of fun vacations the whole family can enjoy. Luckily, many amazing opportunities exist for exciting and autism friendly vacations at every budget.
Whether you’re looking for a cruise, a resort, a theme park, or an outdoor adventure, you’re in for a fun trip. Many getaways are well-prepared to provide an enriching and adaptive experience for your child. Why not start planning your next vacation to one of these amazing locations today?
Looking for advice on how to make vacation travel less chaotic? Check out our top ten tips for avoiding vacation travel stress.