With the enhancement and availability of testing, a diagnosis of autism is quicker to obtain. Hence, the reason why a staggering one in 54 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the United States. Despite the severity of the spectrum disorder in your child, you still want to do as much as you can with them. So, here are a few tips to plan an enjoyable outing with your autistic child.
The most important step is to plan ahead. No matter the level of ASD, children on the Spectrum work much better when they are given a schedule. In addition, it helps you to remember an event or a task that needs to be completed.
The scheduled event can’t be part of your private Google Calendar. It needs to be told to the child and the other family members once the destination is decided. Next, it needs to be posted in a place the child can see it. Perhaps the refrigerator or on a bulletin board he uses for other scheduled events. Each day, you can remind the child of the upcoming outing and what you’ll do. This embeds it in their minds as well as minimizes questions.
This also goes for planning what will actually be done on your outing. For instance, if your child likes trains, and you want to take your child to enjoy a ride on a train, it’ll be helpful to prepare and plan for the trip. Map out your schedules, and let your child know where, when, and what you will be doing and for how long. Autism trains are a fun and common interest amongst people with Autism, but, even the funnest activity can be taxing if you don’t communicate your plans.
Planning ahead also means prepping the materials needed for the outing. Any activities you plan to have or foods to eat should be packed away ahead of time. In addition, the child should participate in the preparation. This allows them to select their favorite items. In addition, they’re able to see that nothing is missed. A forgotten toy or food can lead to a potential meltdown.
Prepare a Sensory Bag
Sensory issues are one of the items related to ASD. This can be related to sight, sound, or touch. When the child is overwhelmed in one of these ways, it can shut them down long before they start the outing.
To minimize this chance, parents need to prepare a bag of toys and other elements they can use when they sense their child is being overwhelmed. This works not only when they get to the outing but also in the downtimes. For instance, while driving or taking public transportation to the destination. When they get to the outing, the items in the bag can be used to maintain stability while waiting in line for an attraction.
The bag doesn’ have to be huge. In fact, it should be small enough for them to hold or wear. On top of this, they should help pack it the night before. It can include a sensory toy, a handheld electronic game, and their favorite snacks.
If you are going to a place that normally doesn’t allow outside bags, call the venue ahead of time and ask about policies when it comes to children with special needs. A majority of locations will allow children to bring certain items.
Do not go without figuring this out beforehand. You do not need to start an outing only to be denied access. Thay may result in issues for the rest of the day.
Plan an Exit Strategy
In addition to planning the outing, you also want to ensure you have an exit strategy should something occur. In the end, even if you schedule every hour, you can’t plan the extenuating circumstances. If one of those pops up, it can cause your child to shut down or have a meltdown.
If this happens, you want to have an exit strategy that minimizes the consequences. In other words, you want to leave if you detect your child is on the way toward a traumatic experience.
Don’t plan this alone. Speak with other families whose children have ASD. Furthermore, reach out to his or her counselor for recommendations. Should the stress and the protests increase, you may want to have an emergency sensory toy or game for them as you leave the outing and head home. While this may not eliminate the breakdown altogether, it can minimize it.
While this seems like a lot for an outing, remember that your child enjoys doing these things with you. Not only does it help them establish new synapses in knowledge, but it continues to bond both of you. In the end, you and your child can learn something about one another in this leisurely outing. As a result, that may lead to less stressful outings in the future.