Upon researching, my results found several agencies providing education and certification to theme parks, entertainment venues, and others offering ‘Autism & Neurodiverse Travel Guides for their properties and/or vacation packages. You might start your own investigation by searching for Certified Autism Professionals or International Board Training & Certification for Travel Agents. If you have a holiday vacation destination in mind, you may want to request any ‘Guides’ or provisions they have for families of persons with autism.
CAUTION*** ‘Certification’ credentials may only address ‘autism’ in the most general terms. Remember, only you ‘Know Your Child’ and your child’s autism. As a vigilant observer, you must act immediately and quickly to prevent a crisis or unwanted episode from escalation.
When taking our ‘non-verbal autistic’ Sonny to his first theme park, we thought we were prepared for almost anything; sensory issues, allergies, sunburn, restraints, escape/elopement issues. Until, when in the middle of a ‘river ride’, water splashed up drenching Sonny’s clothes and face.
Frantically, he began escaping his safety restraint, shedding his clothes, and trying to jump out of the boat! When we were finally rescued, the ‘first responders’ took us in a motorized cart to the employee area. Still kicking and screaming, Sonny was suddenly faced with a new dilemma… theme park employees changing from their street clothes into ‘character costumes’. Thankfully, his sense of humor took over and he thought Mickey looked pretty funny without his head.
Although separated from the rest of the family, and Sonny’s backpack with a change of clothes, his medication, and soothing books and toys from home, we finally got it all together. This brings to mind another situation to be prepared for. Where do you change a 13-year-old’s diaper? In the family bathroom dedicated to parents changing baby’s diapers; or?
When visiting a theme park or other vacation site, find out ahead of time how to get help if you need it. Don’t assume anything! Expect the ‘unexpected’. Additionally, you can purchase signs which alert ‘first responders’ that your family member has autism. Understandably, most families don’t care to make that kind of announcement. But, when you are away from your community, a ‘life saver’ can be a homemade printout of your person’s description, needs, and medication/medical issues… just in case. A current picture showing how they may look when stressed or anxious is important; not just a ‘glamour shot’ of how they look at their best.
Please find FREE BOOK ~ Know Autism, Know Your Child, with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker on the website MENU. Over the next months, my plan is to replace many of the MENU Chapters with newer, updated versions. Eventually, my wish is to make this material available in an eBook format. Also, because the numbers of autism cases are growing across the globe; so, is the research. My wish is to make a collection of this information easily available on my website www.sarasautismsite.com. Hopefully, this will help us try to keep up with what it means to be on the ‘autism spectrum’.