Travel… A word that rings like a gong of dread in the hearts of the NTs that we let into our lives. And I will admit, I cannot blame them. Aspies are not easy to get along with at the best of times… but when you take us out of our comfort zone, we can be downright difficult. The following should help make travel with your Aspie or Autistic Spectrum Individual a little easier for everyone.
I do have to say, I should have covered this topic a long time ago, but it really didn’t occur to me and none of my advisers recommended it. I don’t know if this is because I am lacking foresight or what, but I didn’t even think of it until we were traveling on our vacation.
Let’s start with the reasons your Aspie may have problems with travel.
So… the question becomes, “How do I deal with these issues when they arise?”
My answer is to avoid them becoming issues at all. Or rather, keep things on as level ground as possible. This means being proactive and taking care of things before they happen.
Let’s start with your Aspie’s sensations.
Travelling can be rough for us. There are a lot of new stimuli on the road. Let’s face it. There is the noise of the car, the tires on the road, constant sunlight, other vehicles, wind, music… It’s all very stimulating and can lead to sensory overload and over-stimulation. And this is just a car on a relatively local trip.
If you go very far, you can get the change in vegetation coloration, smells and the sensations that accompany extreme changes in elevation. If you are flying you have a whole different set of sensations that your Aspie will have to deal with.
Your Aspie’s rituals will be disrupted. Autistic Spectrum Disorders are often denoted by ritual or obsessive behaviors. These are those quirky habits that you find charming, or infuriating… depending on how they manifest in your Aspie. Travelling upsets those habits.
Lastly, travel changes your Aspie’s environment. If you’ve ever taken your Aspie to a different pizza parlor than the one they prefer, then you already know how upsetting this can be for them. This, for your Aspie, is far worse. Not only are you taking them to new places to eat, but they aren’t even in their home town… Without anything they recognize.
I know. This all sounds like it might be too much. And it can seem that way, but there are ways to diffuse most of the issues you will encounter.
Let’s start with the stimulus of travelling. Bring something along for your Aspie to do. Something that they enjoy. One of our greatest weaknesses can be your greatest ally when travelling. Hyper-focus. See… If you bring along something for them to do… preferably something that falls under their special interests. Hyper-focus, while it can be truly annoying (with the babbling and gabbling that goes along with it), will allow your Aspie to avoid being overwhelmed by the new sensory inputs and focus on their interest.
Dealing with the disruptions in your Aspie’s rituals can be a little harder. It all depends on what those rituals are. In many cases, it is possible to prepare and make time for them. If it is a show that they watch religiously, get some episodes onto your laptop or tablet so they can be watched on the road. Take the items necessary for said rituals with you, make time for them. It may be a huge pain in the butt, but the reduction in stress for your Aspie will be priceless.
While you cannot avoid the changes in environment, you CAN help make it feel more like home. It may be clothing, favorite items or specific bedclothes… Before you take off for vacation, take some time to observe. Take care to note favorite objects.
When the bean and I went on our vacation, I took steps to ensure that it would be as painless as possible for me. I am a video gamer, so I brought my N64 and my DS. I also brought a couple of my RPG books as well. My rituals include writing and watching certain shows on Netflix. So, I brought my laptop. Lastly, my environmental needs were a couple my favorite T-shirts and my pillow.
Honestly, I am pretty easy to deal with when it comes to travelling. You may need less… or a lot more when preparing for a trip with your Aspie. Just prepare and make some extra room, and I guarantee that your trip will be better than you expected. Hell! It might even be pleasant.