Autism travel is a major challenge with travelling with an autistic child
Fortunately more and more travel destinations, attractions, hotels and resorts are becoming autism friendly.
Tourist attractions in many towns and cities in the United States and Canada along with events and places like museums, exhibits, theatres, amusement parks, and even campsites are becoming either autism friendly or sensory-friendly.
Autism Friendly Cruises
Most cruise lines provide additional services to help people with a variety of disabilities travel. Look for a cruise line that has a special needs or disability desk or that offers cruises for special needs families.
Autism on the Seas collaborates with several cruise lines to provide cruise vacations to families with children who have autism and other disorders.
Autism friendly ships or autism friendly cruises will offer some or all of the following adaptations:
- cruising social story
- early access to your cabin
- extra trained, professional staff
- gluten free and dairy free food
- more flexibility in programs or events for children
- other families with autism onboard
- priority boarding
- priority disembarkation
- private activities
- sensory friendly movies
- toy lending program
Sensory Friendly Airlines
Flying with an autistic child can be a challenge. More and more airlines are making accommodations to help people with autism fly in comfort. You might have heard of Wings for Autism or Wings for All. This program offered at various airports at a specific time and date allows families to rehearse and practice aspects of flying.
Many airlines offer disability seating that is also helpful for families with children with autism.
These airlines have programs that help passengers with disability, including autism. Look for the following when you are flying:
- Air France Saphir Program
- Air New Zealand Skycouch
- ANA, All Nippon Airways and their Autism Flight Experience program.
- Delta offers programs at times to introduce children to flying
- El Al and their ELALCHIK program that offers special features for children.
- Emirates has a Fly with Me Animals program where children receive a stuffed animal souvenir.
- Etihad Airways has a Flying Nanny program.
- Jet Blue started with the Wings for Autism program mentioned above.
- Virgin Atlantic has a bookmark program from Gatwick to Orlando that lets staff know a traveler is flying with a hidden disability.
In Canada, there are programs where families can participate in airport rehearsals at the Montreal Trudeau Airport in Québec, the Calgary International Airport in Alberta and the Vancouver International Airport in British Columbia.
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) Cares is a program in the United States. TSA Cares is a helpline that provides travellers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process.
TSA also offers a travel notification card that alerts the TSA officer to someone travelling with a disability, especially a hidden disability, including autism.
Autism Friendly Airports
Many airports are becoming more autism friendly or sensory-friendly by offering onsite sensory rooms.
These are the autism friendly or sensory friendly airports we have discovered:
- Shannon Airport, Shannon, Ireland
- Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
- Gatwick, Horley, Gatwick, United Kingdom
- Miami International Airport, Miami, Florida, United States
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta Georgia, United States
- Myrtle Beach Airport, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, United States
Have you discovered a cruise line, an airline, or an airport that is sensory friendly? Take a few minutes to share your find with other other sensory-friendly seekers just like you, by adding a free listing on this website’s Sensory Friendly Finder. It’s a simple and fast process.
We’re on a mission to help you discover, rate and book where to eat, drink, shop, live, learn, work, play and travel that is sensory friendly.
Christel Seeberger worked as an occupational therapist for more than 25 years helping people with sensory sensitivity who experience sensory overload. Christel has sensory sensitivity herself; she has hearing loss and wears hearing aids. She founded Sensory Friendly Solutions in 2016 to bring together the sensory friendly community around the world to help people who are interested in sensory friendly living and businesses who offer sensory friendly experiences.