As the holiday season approaches, many families are planning road trips to avoid crowded airports. Between the lack of a predictable routine and being stuck sitting for long periods of time, road trips can be a source of stress for all children particularly those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are some things you can do that may ease the stress and make the upcoming road trips enjoyable for all!
Practice Makes Perfect
If you know a big trip is coming, it may be helpful to plan some smaller trips ahead of time- you can even plan to go to your favorite grocery store a few towns over! Use those mini trips to prepare, practice, and give lot of praise for successful trips!
Check back on one of our last blog posts about Social Stories—they can be a great way to help prepare your child with what they should expect!
Create Familiar Environments and Routines
Even in new environments, you can still find ways to bring in familiarity with routines. If you have to stop at several hotels during your trip, picking the same hotel chain can help create consistency.
Whatever your normal routine is, try to stick to it! If there is usually a story and a song before bed at home, make it happen in the hotel too. You can also bring familiar items from home to make bedtime feel as natural as possible.
Bring/buy snacks that the child would normally have at home! Options are always helpful.
Car Ride Toys/Games
A week or two before the trip, you can start to place some of their favorite toys in your road trip bag. If they haven’t gotten to play with them in a while, it will give them something exciting to do during the car ride! You can bring coloring books, stickers, magnets with a metal baking sheet, or movies. You can also find some fun road trip games to play together, listen to children’s books on Audible, listen to fun podcasts, or make up funny stories together. Don’t bring out all of the best toys/games right away- space them out throughout the trip! Nothing ever goes exactly as planned- as we know from 2020- so make sure to set realistic expectations and enjoy the sweet bonding time with your family!
This blog post was written by Lissa Bonstetter, BCBA.