Vacation here, there or anywhere!
Is it summer yet? It’s about that time of year in New England when we are all starting to feel a little “over” the weather. It’s February Break and many families are out of town this week or next. However, to some, vacationing in the sun seems like a far-off dream, especially for many of our REC families. Traveling is stressful. Traveling with a child with autism can be even more stressful. However, planning for the RIGHT trip can be the perfect start. One of the REC’s favorite resources, Applied Behavior Analysis Programs Guide, created a list of over 30 Autism Friendly Destinations.
Check out our Top 5 picks for some sunshine so you can start planning now!
- Beaches Caribbean Resort:
Traveling with children on the autism spectrum is full of challenges, so why not let a full-service resort deal with some of those issues? At Beaches all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, every staff member is trained in autism awareness and the key strategies put forth by the Sesame Street “See Amazing in All Children” autism initiative. Such training goes a long way to providing an understanding atmosphere for any child. The resort includes pools and beaches, and a Kids Camp which offers adaptive activities for those who need them.
- Caribbean Cruise:
With its fun — yet controlled — atmosphere and wide variety of fun activities, a cruise to the Caribbean makes for a great vacation if you have children with autism. We recommend booking with Royal Caribbean, the first cruise line to be declared “autism friendly.” Modified kids programs, autism-friendly movies, and sensory-related toys are all available on board, plus each staff member has received training in autism awareness. Children on the spectrum will love exploring the different parts of the ship, while port of calls include relaxing beaches and dozens of options for fun family-friendly activities. And should the need arise, ship staterooms are usually quiet and easily accessible. Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line also offer autism-friendly cruises to the Caribbean and other places.
- LEGOLAND Florida:
While all LEGOLAND resorts (there is one in California as well as several internationally) offer some sort of accommodation for children with autism, none can beat LEGOLAND Florida, which in recent years has partnered with Autism Speaks to become entirely autism-friendly. Built into a quiet space of the park is a large panel of hands-on and sensory-stimulating activities, while various other “quiet rooms” have been installed for those who need them. Furthermore, all staff members and volunteers receive training in autism awareness and sensitivity and “front of line” passes can be arranged.
- St. Petersburg, Florida:
As one of only five hotels in the United States to be declared autism friendly by the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities, TradeWinds Island Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida is a great vacation destination for families with children on the autism spectrum. Staff members receive training in autism awareness, and are always willing to step in to lend a hand should the need arise. Plus, the resort offers a long list of family-friendly amenities and activities that include a water park, pirate show, beaches, parasailing, and dolphin-spotting cruises, to name but a few.
- Disney Parks and Resorts:
Leave it to Disney to establish itself as one of the leaders in entertainment for those on the autism spectrum. Though any Disney park is bound to be crowded and active on any given day, each resort will go to great lengths to accommodate those with any special needs. For example, Disney cast members at hotels and on rides can provide assistance for those with light sensitivities, and with the presence of a letter of diagnosis from your child’s doctor, will provide front-of-line passes.
Additionally, there are also agencies to help with the process. Some agencies work only with families and special needs like ASD Vacations. Or, you can search your area for a Travel Agent who has received the proper accreditation with resources like Certified Autism Center and search the professionals.
If you’re still not convinced, maybe a “staycation” is the best fit for your family. The best part about a staycation is that the REC offers vacation week services in addition to after-school, weekend and summer REC programs. For more information on any of these programs you can click here.