Cabin Accommodations for Travelers with Autism

Cabin Accommodations for Travelers with Autism pin

For parents of kids with autism, one of the best tips I can give when taking a cruise is to get the kids acclimated to their cabin as fast as possible.The key to doing that is communicating with the cabin steward efficiently and relaying the necessary accommodations to him or her as soon as possible. For those not acquainted with how to do so here are a few useful tips to follow so you can get the necessary cabin accommodations for travelers with Autism.

Meet your cabin attendant as soon as possible

Try to meet your room steward as soon as possible after boarding, since it might be necessary to make certain adjustments to your cabin.Be patient, courteous and remember they are busy and tired, particularly on embarkation days when they wake up early and have the task of clearing the cabins to prepare them for next travelers.After the usual pleasantries exchange , asks him or her for the following cabin accommodations.

Clear the fridge

Ask the steward to clean out the cabin fridge of sodas, snacks and alcohol as soon as possible so you can store your foods and beverages that you bring back from the buffet or room service to help with those late night hunger attacks.
Another good reason to do so is the sensors on the fridge door might falsely charge your cabin account for an item even though you only moved it to a different location inside the refrigerator to make room for your bottle of water.
Carnival Legend:Towel Animal

Remove  Breakables 

To avoid accidents injuries or damages ask for any breakable objects like standing lamps, glass tops and mirrors to be removed from the cabin especially if your kid has a history of meltdowns s or likes to touch everything.
Inquire about the availability of guard rails for the lower beds if you are concerned your child is in danger of falling out of bed.

Ask for hypo-allergenic bedding 

If you have a pronounced feather allergy like I do, ask for hypoallergenic bedding (including pillows and blankets) as well as a complete change of your bed linens to make sure there aren’t any allergen residues on the bed.
Most cabins have the possibility of separating the large main bed into two twins, so you might want the room steward to do that for you as soon as possible. Not only will it provide you with a slightly larger area to move about, but it also might be helpful if your young family members decide to play “musical beds” and switch beds in the middle of the night.
If your family members enjoy afternoon naps tell your steward you would like the beds ready 24/7 otherwise you might find the top bunks or sofabed closed till the evening.

Cabin Accommodations 4 Travelers With Autism:Our Cabin

Request  an extra tv remote control and  additional seating

Getting an extra TV remote and chairs to sit on is always a good idea as most cabins have one single seat that is not enough for a family of four.Extra chairs might prove helpful as an additional door block if your child wanders and needs to be stopped from exiting the room at night.

Ask for extra  linens

If your child has ‘night accidents’ or suffers from OCD  and takes several showers during the day you need more than your usual linen and towel allotment. It is much easier to get extra supplies in the cabin ahead of time than to sit on the phone with guest services begging for the items in the middle of the night.

Ask  to turn the room speaker volume off

If your child is noise sensitive, the loud daily announcements will bother him or her so it is better to turn the volume off inside the cabin.You can still listen to the reports by opening the cabin door or reading the daily newsletter.

Tips For Boarding A Cruise Ship With Autism

Tips For Boarding A Cruise Ship With Autism muster drill     

Boarding a cruise ship is exciting, but it can also be stressful if one travels with kids, especially ones with autism.
You get past security, enter the cabin to put your luggage and at that point, all everyone wants is to relax.
However, when traveling with autism, it is imperative to check on certain accommodations to make sure that everything will run smoothly and that everyone including your child with autism will enjoy the vacation.
If you haven’t cruised before and aren’t sure what to do here are some tips for boarding a cruise ship with Autism to start you off on the right path.

  The VIP desk

Make sure you fill all the pre-boarding paperwork online and arrive at the pier an hour after the initial crowds board the ship.This way, the check-in lines are less crowded, and the staff is less stressed and more helpful.
If your kid with autism cannot wait in-line, head on to the VIP/handicap desk equipped with your medical documents, and ask for expedited embarkation.

Don’t use porters

The best way to ensure both the safety of your luggage along with your quick embarkation or disembarkation is to carry your suitcases onboard on your own.Luggage for your kid with autism may include special medications, clothing, bedding and toys that might not readily be available to re-purchase if destroyed or lost (which will lead to meltdowns that can ruin the family’s trip) should be handled solely by you.
Clearly,  this suggestion is not for everybody, as it does translate into fewer items packed, and might not prove feasible to some.

Head on to the Service Desk

  • Ask to do the muster drill in an air-conditioned room, or if you can send a representative from your group to the muster drill. Make sure later that evening to take your entire group to the assigned evacuation spot so you will know exactly where it is.
  • Ask the customer service representative to make sure that your kid cannot charge anything to their ship card, including at the video games arcade onboard.Also, ask to block the pay-per-view in the room option, so you don’t get charged for the same movie 51 times  (happened to us, true story) when you have a child enamored with pressing buttons continuously like mine.
  • Be advised that all cruise lines provide all kids under the age of eleven with an ID bracelet, to help during emergencies. If your child cannot wear one, ask if you can replace it with a tag attached to his/her clothing at all times, or look into those non-permanent tattoos you can stick on during the cruise. Wearing an ID is an important safety issue, and any problems with it need to be addressed with the ship’s personnel.If your child likes shows but is noise or light-sensitive, remember to request reserved back and aisle seating for the evening shows, so you can skip waiting in the long lines and exit the theater fast without disturbing anyone.
  • If your child wishes to attend the kids’ club, onboard you should seek a meeting with the supervisor and or youth counselor to tell them in person, of any needs your child has.Boarding time is also the time to double check that any pre-bookings you made to restaurants, shows, and shore excursions are recorded correctly to avoid possible mishaps.

In the Cabin

  • Make sure you meet and chat with your cabin attendant as soon as possible, so he or she knows what accommodations your child needs.This way your child will feel comfortable in the cabin from the very first day.
  • If you are cruising a ship that offers specialized dining and you have made  any booking: check to see that your bookings are in order and that the restaurant staff knows of any special diet or request.

Autism Travel Tips for Travel Agents

Autism travel is a growing untapped segment of the travel industry that has yet to be adequately addressed.
By CDC estimates, there are over 2 million kids with autism under 18 in the US alone. Accompanied by a minimum of one caregiver the number of potential autism-related travelers easily jumps to 4 million, and that does not take into account additional family members or adults with autism.

So, it should come as no surprise travel agents are becoming increasingly interested in obtaining more information to understand the needs of travelers with autism better.Since there is no difference between planning a vacation for a family whose child has autism and a family with a neurotypical child except for specific accommodations, I thought that creating a list of starter tips would be helpful for many agents.

Autism Travel Tips for Travel Agents sign

Photo credit Balycon charts

Airline travel

  • Arrange for pre-boarding and for bulk or aisle seating if your client has involuntary movements such as stimming.
  • Seat your traveler away from galleys and lavatories if he /she are smell or noise sensitive.
  • Notify the airline in advance if there are any food allergies or special diets.
  • Avoid booking long layovers or multiple connections.

Cruises

  • Arrange for pre-boarding
  • Book a mid ship cabin away from noise venues and elevators if your traveler is sound or motion sensitive.
  • Do not book balcony cabins or cabins next to exits if the child tends to wander off.
  • Ask if the child is verbal or communicates through sign language or electronic device as that will impact any kids’ club experience.
  • Notify the cruise line in advance of pertinent food allergies and special diets and if special food needs to be brought on board by parents.
  • Arrange for a separate more secluded dining table if the child is noise sensitive.

Hotels

  • Check with hotel officials about booking a room away from exits as well as the possibility of providing extra locks on room door if the child has a tendency to wander off.
  • Ask for quiet rooms on higher floors away from vending machines, elevators, parking lots, swimming pools, golf courses and beachfront if your traveler is noise sensitive.
  • Ask to book a room with no sliding doors and mirrors if your client has spatial coordination issues.
  • Notify the hotel of any specific allergies to fabrics or products your traveler has.
  • Ask if the client needs help delivering any particular foods or medical equipment to the hotel room

Day tours

  • Ask the parent about the child’s energy capacity and ability to tolerate full day versus half day trips.
  • Know whether the child is temperature sensitive and how well he or she can tolerate outdoor activities like walking tours.
  • Clarify any fears or anxieties the child might have of animals or crowds that might interfere with some itineraries.
  • Know ahead of time whether the traveler is noise or light sensitive since that can impact attending firework shows.
  • Notify tour operators of any food allergies or special diets required.

    Other

  • Ask whether the family needs special transportation to and from airports, ports or rail stations.
  • Provide the travelers with a 24-hour line or email to contact you if anything goes wrong.

Q&A with Clive Ireland’s Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire tulips

 What qualities are recommended for an assistance dog?

Assistance Dogs need patience, a sense of fun, a willingness to play and a great sense of responsibility. Assistance Dogs need to love children and accept and understand that they are working with children with special needs. Just like our cat knows Murray is special and the horses he rides instinctively know and understand Murray and his needs—I understand Murray, and we work well together. I was trained by Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, who train dogs for the blind and visually impaired and for children with autism.

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire disney paris

I was puppy walked by a volunteer puppy walking family for the first ten months of my life and then I went back to the Guide Dog Training Centre where I had my intensive training to qualify as an Assistance Dog. I was thoroughly trained and working by the age of 18 months and was the first Golden doodle Assistance Dog in Ireland. My three brothers Clint, Chad, and Cash all went on to become Guide Dogs.

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire parade

What does an assistance dog pack in his suitcase?

My coat needs a lot of maintenance, so I always travel with a selection of brushes and combs to keep my coat in tip top condition. I also pack my favorite blanket that I sleep on when we go to new places.

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire friends

What transportation methods have you experienced, and which one is your favorite?

Planes, trains, and automobiles–I’ve been in them all. I’m in the car every day and love travelling with Murray. I lie beside him, usually on the back seat of the car, with my head on his lap so he can pet me. I’ve travelled to Belgium, France and Spain on planes and, as a service dog, I am allowed to sit at Murray’s feet on the aircraft. Every time we have travelled the airlines have been especially useful and have allocated an extra seat to us— so I have plenty of room. Planes are my favorite because it usually means a fascinating holiday!

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire ball park

How do you pass airport checkpoints?

On check-in at Dublin Airport, I just produce my pet passport, plus a letter from Murray’s doctor confirming that he is on the autistic spectrum and needs to have me travelling with him. I never have any difficulty flying out of Dublin airport or returning home to Ireland. Sometimes we have to answer a few extra questions, but usually, we get only help and assistance. At the security gate, I walk through ahead of Murray and the security officer often opens the pockets on my working jacket just to check what I carry inside (poop bags only!)

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire fountain

On arrival back in Dublin airport I have to check in with the vet at the Department of Agriculture office in the baggage reclaim section; the vet checks my pet passport, gives my micro-chip a quick read, and makes sure I had been tick and flea-treated within the previous 48 hours before I flew home.

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire mountains


Do you get any perks in hotels or restaurants?  

Usually not, I am a working dog and just expect to be allowed in to accompany Murray. I am not allowed to eat or drink in a restaurant—I have had my meals beforehand—and I always decline the offer of food or water from the waiting staff. Some will insist I need something to eat, but Murray’s mom always explains ‘not while working!’. Some restaurants can be a little hesitant about having a dog (even a service dog), and Murray’s mom has an ID card from Irish Guide Dogs, which she shows the staff, explaining that I am fully entitled to be there with Murray.

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire view

When we travel abroad Murray’s Mom has made up an ID card in Spanish, French, and Flemish to show in the relevant countries. France is extremely welcoming towards services dogs, Belgium also, however, Spain is another matter altogether. This year, we persisted, though, and even got a Spanish hotel to accept me and allow me in the dining room every evening. This was a huge step for the hotel and staff, but I was so well-behaved that by the end of the week, they were totally converted to the idea of ‘working’ dogs staying in their hotels. We also appreciated the fact that they upgraded us to a larger suite when we arrived. We have also stayed in a lot of hotels around Ireland and our access laws in this country are regarded as some of the best in Europe.

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire seaside

Assistance Dogs for Autism have only been in Ireland for the past six years, and we were the first European country to Assistance Dogs. One of the things we always appreciate is how friendly, and welcoming hotel/restaurant staff are to me.Indeed, several times we have been upgraded to a larger room or suite (during check-in when they see how big I am!); we don’t expect or need it but it is very nice to get upgraded!

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire dublin

I have not travelled to the US before, so our holiday this July to South Carolina and New York will be a very exciting experience for us. Murray stayed in the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston last summer (because of Catie—their canine ambassador) as the family were worried about him missing me so much. This summer, however, we will all be together on holidays in Hilton Head—both Murray and I are very excited!

Q&A with Clive -Ireland's Autism Service Dog Extraordinaire castle

 

*Special thanks to Fiona, who acted as the perfect translator from Canine to English.

 


Benefits of Cruising For Travelers With Autism

 

At first, many parents to kids with autism tend to shy away from cruising; thinking that spending multiple days confined in a ‘swim box’ is just horrifying.
All they can imagine for their vacation days are endless stares and nasty comments from fellow passengers, dramatic meltdowns, and incessant whining from their family members.
As I see it, cruises are not only a great value for the budget conscience family but beneficial for travelers with autism as they provide the perfect learning platform in a relaxed and fun environment.

Benefits of Cruising for the Travelers with Autism ship

Exposure to an incredible variety of foods

Between the main dining room and the buffet, your kid with autism will be tempted to sample many dishes that he or she have never seen before. Since tastes change, you never know when you might return home with a kid who is absolutely in love with mushrooms and asparagus! In our case our son fell in love with escargot on his first cruise experience and still likes to order them every time he finds them offered on the menu.

Benefits of Cruising for the Travelers with Autism soup

Participation in group activities or games

At home, our son never waited for his turn and was always the sore loser in board games. So naturally I was reluctant to pay and have him participate in the ship’s bingo games.But he promised to be on his best behavior if I did take him, so I caved in. And I was surprised when he didn’t seem to mind waiting patiently and losing at Bingo or Trivial Pursuit to other passengers.

Benefits of Cruising for the Travelers with Autism hall

Collectors Paradise

Cruising is a golden opportunity to collect both ship and port memorabilia. Ship memorabilia includes anything with the vessel’s name or logo, including free daily newsletters. Port memorabilia can be anything from the corny t-shirts, pens or caps to maps, napkins, and public transportation tickets.

When we first started cruising with our kids, they were very young, so they collected all the free pamphlets and trinkets they could lay their hands on.

When they grew older, they learned to save their weekly allowance so they would have the money to buy more expensive souvenirs at the different ports we visited. In our son’s case, he has a designated corner in his room with everything he has amassed from years of travel and he likes to look at them to remind him of his various travels.

 

Benefits of Cruising for the Travelers with Autism dolls

Introduction to thrill sports

Do you get to parasail the Caribbean, zip line a tropical forest, rock climb or ice-skate on-board, pet dolphins, manatees, or sea lions every day? That’s what you’ll be doing for an entire week when you go on a cruise!

When we first started traveling, we were the epidemy of couch potatoes.Yet, for the week, we are on board a ship we all become adventurous and try new sports at least once.

Benefits of Cruising for the Travelers with Autism ropes

cruise ship is akin to living in a small village where everyone is in a good mood for a week, so it is a terrific opportunity for your child to practice their social skills. The more your kids cruise and are exposed to other passengers, the better they will learn how to interact with different people. We were surprised on one of our cruises when our son hit it off with an older gentleman who turns out was a television producer and chatted for over two hours about the future of children’s programming.

 

Benefits of Cruising for the Travelers with Autism formal night
Have you taken your child with Autism on a cruise?  What did you find was the most beneficial experience for them?

 

 


Visiting Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Amsterdam

During our frequent visits to the different European and American cities, my son would often beg me to go and visit Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Frankly, though I wholeheartedly support going to explore most museums, this genre seemed like the ultimate tourist trap to me and as such, I refused to give in.

Although I continuously explained to him how unreasonably expensive it was, how kitschy it looked, and what a total waste of our precious travel time it would be to go, I would still get the occasional childish whine of “but why not..?”

One day I finally cracked. We were in Amsterdam, on a rainy day and had already seen everything I had set out to see; like the famous Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh and Modern museums along with Anna Frank’s home, and Rembrandt’s Studio.
We had extensively walked around the canals, visited the beautiful squares, and even wondered unknowingly through the Red Light Zone. Besides, I reasoned with myself–my kids had enough educational tourism, so let them have some fun.

Visiting Amsterdam's Madame Tussaud Wax Museum dalai lama

And that is how I ended up taking the boys to the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum for the afternoon alone, of course since my dear husband made it abundantly clear he was not wasting fifteen euros for the admission ticket

 

.Visiting Amsterdam's Madame Tussaud Wax Museum einstein

The Museum.

We walked in after I signed off thirty euros on my credit card slip(kids were 50% off) and entered a dark and crowded room that looked like it had been borrowed from a run-of-the-mill theme park. At this point, as my son was busy running from exhibit to exhibit, I was wondering, “why did I do this to myself?”
Visiting Amsterdam's Madame Tussaud Wax Museum bush
Luckily that dark Halloween-like room viewing lasted less than ten minutes, and we finally got to the real part of the museum-the wax figurines. And that was where my real surprise was about to be unveiled.

We leisurely went from exhibit to exhibit discussing all the famous people there.Right there, I later realized, was the best history lesson any kid, especially an autistic kid could get. Suddenly, the likes of Churchill, Lenin, Picasso, and Einstein were standing right there in front of us, almost ready to shake hands.

The boys commented on their height and speculated why Gandhi wore his famous austere sari while Elvis appeared in sequined suits. During those two hours in there, I managed to explain and cover more than a century’s worth of history in politics, art, music, and cinematography.

 All in all, it turned out to be a productive and highly entertaining afternoon for the three of us, while I learned to reconsider my biased opinion of tourist traps.

 

Autism Travel Tips.

  • The museum might be a bit crowded during peak hours, so it is recommended to call ahead and ask what time is best to arrive.
  • For kids scared of darkness and ghosts-skip that exhibit as it might be a bit frightening. 
  • Reiterate the rules to your kid as to what is or isn’t permitted including touching the exhibits.
  • Some of the exhibits may be PG13 so you might want to ask the staff that ones they are and decide whether they are or aren’t appropriate for your child..

Jamie Grover of Autism on the Seas

Q&A with Jamie Grover of Autism on the Seas

 

Jamie Grover of Autism on the SeasHow did you start working with families with autism?.

I worked for UCLA and injured my back, requiring two back surgeries. My friend who happened to be the director of the university center for developmental disabilities asked me if I would work with him. I did, and I soon realized I had found my true calling.Needless to say, I’ve never looked back.


Can you describe a day onboard?.

Our kids are included with the assistance of my staff and Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean (kids club) staff together with the typical children exclusive to our group on every cruise.Also, we have special events that are unique to our group of guests. Families can participate in any or all our private activities that vary depending on what ship we are cruising on. These activities include Galley Tours, Bridge Tour, Rock Wall, Ice Skating, Meet & Greet in the Ships Disco, playing bingo, doing crafts, and Pool Parties to name a few.


Describe your most gratifying experience on board so far.

This is an easy question to answer!
On almost every cruise, I hear the amazement in the parent’s voices when they see their son or daughter do something remarkable that they would never have guessed they would have ever witnessed.
Seeing their child ice skating for the first time, climbing the rock wall, involved in an activity with typical children in the Adventure Ocean group, participate in the Pirate Parade with the group, all things parent’s love to see! Totally priceless!

Will Autism on the Seas be expanding to other cruise lines, land vacations or shore excursions shortly?.

That’s the plan.

Autism on the Seas is currently organizing our first European Cruise in spring 2012. We also welcome hearing from our fans, friends, and families of cruise destinations they are most interested in. We have and are willing to customize any group cruise wherever there is a need and a group of folks requiring our assistance.
Jamie Grover of Autism on the Seas

I only host one shore excursion on our cruises, and that takes place our first day in port in Bermuda. I love Bermuda and know a fantastic place on the island that Is picture perfect for everyone, young or seasoned, in our group. Most families in other ports of calls buddy up and do excursions in small groups, and that’s  always fantastic to see.

Any advice you want to share with our traveling families with autism?.

Yes… The most valuable advice that I can offer is for parents to let go a little so both kids and parents can enjoy themselves on vacation.
We all want our children to be as independent as possible; most parents need to step back a little and give their kids some freedom to do just that!
As parents to special needs children we often let our FEAR take precedence our allowing our children the opportunity to flourish. Our kids do amazing things when given a little freedom and independence, especially under the watchful eyes of my staff and me on every cruise.

..


30 Tips For Flying With Autism

 

 

30-tips-for-flying-with-autism

Since so many of you have approached me over the years asking for help flying with autistic kids, I thought I’d share my top 30 tips for flying with autism.

 Tips for Booking

  • Always try to book nonstop flights that start early in the morning to bypass midday delays!
    If you are booking, connecting flights make sure you have plenty of time between flights for bathroom breaks and food purchases.The minimum time to connect in the US is  45 minutes for domestic travel since aircraft doors close 15 minutes before takeoff, and  1.5h for international as aircraft doors close 45 minutes before departure.
  • Become acquainted with flight details, the point of origin and codeshare rules.
    Flights that originate in other than your embarkation airport could be subject to CDC or FDA regulations you might not know about. Our personal example was an Air Tahiti Nui from Paris to Los Angeles we took several years ago. During the flight, the crew sprayed some insecticide all over the cabin (including us) in mid-flight.It turns out the flight had originated in the Indian Ocean island of Reunion where they had experienced a severe outbreak of mosquito-carried Dengue Fever and according to US regulations all flights from there needed to be sprayed.
  • Know what type of aircraft you will be on since seating configurations vary between the different airlines and air crafts.
    Check the seats before booking on Seatguru.com and avoid booking  seats in the wing area (extra noise), back area  (a lot warmer and stuffy) as well as  near galleys or bathrooms (smells.)
  • Ask for bulk seating especially if your child stims.
    If the airline denies your request, look into purchasing Economy upgraded seats for long haul flights to make your kid more comfortable.
  • Never seat your child with autism in the middle seat where he or she can’t stretch –put them in a window seat or aisle seating with extra space.
  • When traveling as a family of three or more, consider booking two seats in the front of two other seats putting an adult family member in front of the traveler with autism, to avoid complaints from fellow travelers of the seat being continuously kicked.
  • Booking two consecutive rows might prove priceless on long haul flights for a different reason- if the entertainment sets break down in one row, you can move your kid to the next row and avoid a meltdown over not being able to watch a movie.
    If your kid is on a special diet, mention it at booking time!
  • Most airline companies offer fast food kids’ meals as a food option that is not only a kid pleaser but will also guarantee he/she get their meal among the first on the flight.
  • Ask your booking agent for pre -boarding assistance if your kid tends to wander, and you are traveling with no help with several suitcases.

  • 30 Tips to improve flying with Autism seats

 

Packing Tips

  • Don’t forget disinfectant wipes to clean the food tray and your child’s hands after those bathroom trips.
  • Chewing gum or candy is always helpful for landing so make sure you pack some!
  • If your child needs a blanket or pillow on the flight, consider purchasing your own washable and lightweight set.
    In today’s world, there are more passengers than pillows and blankets on planes and those available might not even be that clean.
  • Take an extra set of clothes (including underwear) in your carry-on for you and your child to quickly change into should a food or beverage spill occur.
    Many times the plastic cups and silverware the airline provides end up on the floor, broken into sharp pieces.So, if your child likes to walk around the plane with no shoes bring a pair of nonskid socks to protect their feet.
  • Bring headphones and ear plugs along to block unwanted noise and always pack an extra set in case they break.
  • Make sure you bring a tablet or phone to entertain your kid -along some airlines have started removing their entertainment systems on the planes altogether.
  • If your child takes daily medicines take them in your purse for easy access during the flight.
  • Discuss with your doctor what to do should your child become agitated during the flight and ask for his/her recommendations.
  • We carry two natural remedies for our son-Valerian to help with relieving stress and Melatonin to help with sleep and jet lag issues.

 

Tips for the Airport

  • Make sure to get to the airport early and allocate enough time to go through the TSA lines (45 minutes to an hour before the flight)  to avoid extra stress.
  • Check if the airport you are traveling through has a separate line for physically challenged persons or families since many do.
  • Bring your pre- filled TSA medical forms (print them off the internet)  along with your doctor’s note confirming your child’s condition to present to an agent should any issue arise.
  • Wear clogs or Crocs instead of shoes to slide on and off during the TSA check line.
  • Avoid wearing sweaters, belts, baggy pants and long skirts as they will trigger the TSA agents’ attention, and you might be stuck with an additional pat-downs.
  • If your child is squeamish about going barefoot on airport floors, bring a pair of disposable shoe covers.
  • Print and bring a map of the airport or airports you will travel through at airport terminal maps .com, so you can know the location of eateries and restrooms, and play areas if and when you need to use them.
  • Keep your cool no matter how stressed you are.Remember your child takes notice of your behavior and will become even more agitated.

30 Tips to improve flying with Autism plane

During the Flight

  • Reiterate your son’s or daughter’s diagnosis to the crew as soon as you board since sometimes the airline forgets to note the accommodations on its paperwork.
  • Dismantle the flight attendant calling button as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it may be (and will almost certainly will be) pressed continuously by your kid and annoy the crew unnecessarily.
  • Be sure to ask your flight attendant for extra napkins-those will come in handy to clean up sticky fingers and spills that might happen.
    Always accompany your child to the restroom to make sure they get any assistance they require.

Have you flown with your autistic child lately-Come share your tips and experience with us?


Mariner of the Seas Portofino restaurant

The service

The service at  Mariner of the Seas  Portofino restaurant was just right, being neither slow nor rushed, and quite well coordinated.The Maitre D’ was very understanding after my short explanation and even permitted our son to wear his usual shorts and t-shirt combo instead of the more dressy attire usually required. He even helped to cut Jeff’s steak and returned to the table multiple times to inquire as to whether we had any other needs or requests.
Moreover, when our server noticed that our son liked the eggplant dip, he replenished it continuously. They were somewhat dismayed to see me leave before the meal ended and gave my husband my dessert platter to take back to our cabin (in case I wished to enjoy it later.)I wanted to, but my son beat me to it and had a second helping for the evening.

The decor and food

The venue decorated in dark tones of gold and winter greens had an understated modern look with its velvet seating and stainless steel open kitchen. The dishes offered in the restaurant’s prix fixe menu were average sized, beautifully presented and tasty.Our sons’ favorites were as expected the assorted fresh bread and the mouth watering desserts!

Noteworthy

On a personal note: I enjoyed the music played, composed of a selection of San Remo 60’s and 70’s Festival winners, the likes of Peppino di Capri and the famous duo of Romina Powell and Albano, for those who are familiar with the genre. It not only provided me with a rare chance to expose my family to a different type of music but also to reminisce about my favorite childhood songs.

Autism travel tips

Since this is an upscale venue on the ship, I would recommend trying this restaurant only if you have kids or teens that have had some gastronomic exposure and are eager to sample different Italian regional dishes, as it would be difficult to enjoy a meal sitting next to a fussy eater or misbehaving child.
The trick to enjoying the Mariner of the Seas  Portofino restaurant when traveling with autistic family members is to go as early as possible during the cruise, preferably even the first night.
Also, you should never book a table for a formal night, and always try to be the first customers in the restaurant when it opens. By doing so, it ensures that the restaurant will not be overcrowded, allowing a more personalizedservice from the crew and complete parental relaxation.

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