Travel advice: travelling with an autistic/ASD child

Help prepare for the journey with maps and videos so they know what to expect

Taking a child with Autism/ASD on holidays has to be well planned to help them prepare for the experience. Airports can be scary places with lots of people, pushing, bumping and sudden bursts of noise.

Airports in Ireland are well prepared to help your child travel easily and comfortably. On the website dublinairport.com you will find visual guides to the terminals that can be downloaded and customised for your child.

Dublin Airport can provide an “important flyer” lanyard or wristband in advance, email prm@daa.ie to request one. You can also get assistance from OCS with mobility, parking and private areas by contacting them in advance on 01-9440341.

Cork and Shannon Airports also have visual guides and Shannon has a series of small videos showing each stage of the trip through the airport. The videos are clearly done and introduce children to people they are likely to meet at the airport.

Smaller airports are less stressful and if you do have to travel through Dublin Airport, booking the fast track for security cuts down on queuing at busy times. A visit to the airport in advance at a quiet time may be helpful. A holiday scrapbook is useful to show the airport, airplanes and destination. It can also help mark the different stages of travel from leaving for the airport to getting to your final destination.

Other useful tools include the Suzie Goes on an Aeroplane book by Charlotte Olsen, available from suziebooks.co.uk. There is a video on YouTube of Suzie on an aeroplane.

Materials to prepare for the return journey will depend on your destination and you may have to improvise with generic images and destination photographs.

There is a guide available from Autism Support Ireland, called Planning Your Journey and can be downloaded from the website autismireland.ie

jscales@irishtimes.com

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