This was our first big trip as a family on a plane since we found out my son was on the Spectrum. There was a lot of preparation going into the trip and I want to share my experience and tips & tricks with you below. Leading up to the trip we tried to prep him as much as possible. I have included a few ways that we tried to prepare Caleb for the trip below.
First we set up an airport acclimation session with the Buffalo Airport. We set up an appointment about 3 days prior to us leaving and it let Caleb get a chance to see the airport before hand; where we would check the bags, get to walk through the TSA area; and then walked down the hallway to see the planes. This was helpful so that when we would talk about flying on an airplane he had an idea of what to expect. Then on the day of flying he was pointing to us and remembering what he had just seen a few days prior; it was great!
We bought noise cancelling headphones (found here) before we left on the trip thinking we would possibly use them on the plane or for fireworks at Disney World. This was a life saver! This particular pair was cheap; but got the job done. We needed them for SO many different things we didn’t even think about; for example: Mickey’s Philharmagic Show, Lion King Show, Disney Jr. Dance Party (this show also had a lot of flashing lights), Cars Show at Hollywood Studios and the Buses picking you up can sometimes make loud beeping noises when letting on wheelchairs so we made sure to have them handy, also on the Buses if he was tired with lots of people the noise got to him as well. This was our best purchase for the trip and normally we don’t have too many problems with Caleb and noises but I just wanted to be prepared for anything and I am so glad I was.
We kept talking about the trip to him before we left in the weeks leading up and made sure to tell him who was going to be there and what were were planning on seeing. We would also show him videos and pictures of the places we were going to see so when he got there he would be more familiar with it.
I also reached out the school that Caleb attends and they were able to assist me in creating a storyboard for him that described the process of the trip. I would highly recommend for anyone traveling with a child who doesn’t like to be out of their routine. We read this to him over and over again a few times throughout the day. Here is an example of some of the pages.
Once we arrived and started walking around you could tell he remembered the pictures and videos and was so excited when we actually saw those things. This was our very first ride we did when we got to Hollywood Studios on our first day. Caleb was looking so forward to this ride and you can tell by his huge smile. We had talked about it so much leading up to the trip and he was so excited to finally be there.
For the trip we chose a resort based on what we thought would fit the kids best and they would enjoy when we got back to the hotel. We chose the Art of Animation Resort in a Cars Family Suite. We would have days where the parks were very overwhelming; but as soon as we got back and he saw those cars (which is one of this favorite things) his eyes lit up and pointed them out and started running at the life sized Cars. This was one of the highlights of this trip and we are so thankful we picked a resort full of things that appealed to kids and especially him.