Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand

 Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand pin

Here at Autistic Globetrotting, we believe that there’s no substitute for personal experience. While most of the articles here detail our personal travel experience, in this post we interviewed Yumi Yasuyama about her recent trip to Thailand.


Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand family

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

How was the flight?

This time we flew with Thai Airlines. We couldn’t get a flight with Japan Airlines because it was peak season, but even so, the Thai Airlines flight was crowded.The flight was 6.5 hours from Chūbu Centrair International Airport to Bangkok. The service was excellent. The flight stewardess gave Aki, my son with autism, a lot of papers and colored pen markers so he wouldn’t get bored.

Where did you stay?

We stayed in the  Sukhumvit area at Grande Centre Point Terminal 21 Hotel. We were looking for a very convenient area especially because Aki has autism, not to mention ADHD, a panic disorder and food issues. I chose this central location so that if Aki had some meltdown, it would be easier to rush back to our room.

As always, I emailed the hotel before booking and explained our situation. The hotel gave us connecting rooms and even upgraded us to a room with a kitchenette.

Furthermore, they put us on a less crowded floor, and every time we showed up in the restaurant, lobby, pool, spa or fitness center, the staff was quick to give us assistance. We felt like we were given V.I.P treatment.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand swimming

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

What the highlights of the trip? 

Aki wanted to ride an elephant, so it was our primary purpose. We made inquiries online and planned a visit to an elephant camp.Also, the original plan included visits to some temples and some public markets. When we were there, most of the temples were under construction, which was quite a disappointment for us.
Also, it was too hot at 39℃ to be outside. So we ended up visiting the Indian district of Bangkok, had made-to-order tailored suits and shirts for the boys, and tried differThaimassages.We found the people in Thailand very helpful and friendly. They didn’t even ask for tips, but their services were fantastic.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand pool

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

Did you encounter any particular issues?

In the hotel, the communication was not a problem since everyone spoke English.Outside it was a little more of a challenge, but we were able to communicate through gestures, a little bit of English, pointing to pictures, and a Google Translate App. It was fun, and the boys giggled every time they understood us.
Overall we had a great experience even the street vendors were polite. At night we did wander into some districts where there were bars, but we still felt pretty safe.

In what ways did you find Thailand similar to Japan?

The people in Thailand are very honest. I left some tips for the staff in the hotel for making our beds, and when we got back to the rooms, the money had been left there on the top of our pillows.

Aki lost his bag in Bangkok, and we didn’t know where, but somebody found it, saw our hotel room key and brought it to the hotel lobby. We had already given up hope on ever finding it, but when it was returned,  the money inside was untouched. Sadly, since the kind person who returned it never left their name, we couldn’t thank anybody.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand night view
Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

In what ways did you find Thailand different from Japan?

The foods were different in Thailand compared with Japan. They add a lot of spices. The boys giggled every time they tried new foods.We tried noodles, BBQ, and Thai curry. Their fruits were superb! We even found this Steak House right outside our hotel where they served Angus prime ribs which were delicious.

Tackling the congested traffic was challenging for Aki; especially with loud horns and motorcycles driving in the opposite lanes.

One of the sad differences was seeing some young girls, very young much younger than our boys who are 17 and 18, in the alley at the night district in Sukhumvit acquiring customers while wearing their very sexy outfits. I’m glad my son didn’t ask for clarifications as to what these girls were doing.

What souvenirs did you bring home?

Aki bought some fridge magnets, dried fruits, and chocolates that he gave to his teachers.Our other son got these scorpion keyholders and a Bulgari leather belt. He didn’t go crazy shopping this time. I was quite impressed.
We visited a gem factory, and my mom bought 23k earrings as she thought the prices were lower than in Japan.

Taking Your Kids With Autism to Bangkok Thailand elephant

Photo Credit: Yumi Yasuyama

What is your fondest memory?

My favorite memory is of visiting the Safari Park; riding the elephant, seeing so many giraffe and tigers up close and touching them. Seeing my boys communicate with the local vendors using sign languages and trying to get discounts is a close second.

The best part was that Aki didn’t have any meltdowns.We traveled with some friends this time, and they did help me a lot with the boys.
Sometime in the near future, we would like to go back and visit some of the Thai islands and stay longer . This visit was way too short.

Yumi Yasuyama lives in Aichi-Ken, Kariya City, Japan and is a mother to two sons, one of which (Aki) has autism and ADHD.She and her sons share their family adventures on their Facebook page called-Adventures in Autism. In this interview, Yumi sheds light on what motivates them to travel as well as describing the different challenges associated with planning their trips.

Q&A with Shalese Nicole Heard of Autistic Travel Goddess

Shalese Nicole recently received her Master’s degree in Public Health Education. With a passion for Autism Advocacy, and global travel she set out to create Autistic Travel Goddess to showcase traveling from an autism-friendly perspective. Outside of travel and raising autism awareness, she enjoys shopping, reading and water sports. Connect with Shalese on Facebook and  Youtube,.

We recently had the great opportunity to interview Shalese Nicole, founder of Autistic Travel Goddess. We asked her questions about her life, her inspirations, and her travels.

Q&A with Shalese Nicole Heard of Autistic Travel Goddess road

Photo Credit: Shalese Nicole Heard


What is your personal connection with autism?

I was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Growing up, I always wondered why I seemed to be treated differently. During my teen years of bullying, special education classes, and lack of understanding from others; I was forced to come to that painful realization that a person with autism was considered defective. From then on, I strove to understand why I was unique and wanted to teach the world that people with autism are just as capable of leading good lives as anyone else. My drive for advocacy, helping others on the spectrum and spreading autism awareness began in college when I became fiercely curious about my identity as an autistic person.

When did you start traveling and why?

It’s hard to say, but my traveling began when I moved around a lot as a child. I have had the privilege of living in several different states. As a family, we would take road trips whenever we could to visit family, or for fun. I used to spend hours in my bedroom looking at atlases, maps, and encyclopedias daydreaming about exploring the world.
My parents knew what would be on my holiday wish list every year – the National Geographic magazines and encyclopedias about places to travel.
Traveling became an intense curiosity and a dream of mine.

My first overseas trip was my freshman year in college, where I went to Scotland for a class trip. During my adult years, I make it a point to travel somewhere new once a year.

Q&A with Shalese Nicole Heard of Autistic Travel Goddess sea

Photo Credit: Shalese Nicole Heard

What did you learn from traveling?

Every time I take a trip, whether it’s the next town over or overseas; I come away learning more about people than ever before.

What I learn about myself is that traveling is a way to defy stereotypes of autism. At home, I tend to prefer my space and don’t try to actively engage in social activities.

When I travel, my entire boundary is lifted. I am more open to talking to others, being social, and being able to empathize with new people in a new place.

People’s attitudes about autism, or unique perspectives differ depending on the location.
It is nice to be able to travel the world, and defy that stereotype that autistic people are not social beings and that we can’t live independently.

Travel somehow heightens my instincts as well. It’s something about being in a new place that sharpens my intuition. Normal sensory annoyances don’t annoy me as much when I am on a trip. For example, I find myself LESS annoyed with crowded rooms when I am busy trying to embrace being in another region, state, or country.

Your favorite travel destination so far has been?

I would have to say Scotland because I am completely in a new territory, with a new cultural atmosphere. The rugged lands, beauty, and the people are heartwarming as ever. I felt that I could relate to the Scottish more than my fellow Americans due possibly personality similarities.
On the other hand, I enjoyed standing out and seeing how vastly different the lives of the citizens are from mine. Going to another country is such an imaginative, transformative experience for me that cannot be replicated otherwise.

Q&A with Shalese Nicole Heard of Autistic Travel Goddess bridge

Photo Credit: Shalese Nicole Heard

What was your worst travel experience?

I guess New York was the most stressful trip I have taken. I find the incredible crowds, traffic, and difficulty navigating the city to be a distraction from me embracing the place and actually experiencing the trip.
What I would do differently if I travel to NYC again is to plan better, and schedule what I call “sensor breaks,” where I intentionally return back to the hotel to rejuvenate so I may go back out less overwhelmed.
Also, I would NOT try to cram too much in so few days. New York is stimulating and big enough where I needed to expand the trip for at least one week, instead of rushing it all in in four days.

What are your favorite modes of transportation and why?

My favorite means of transportation are airplanes and rail. Airplanes help me indulge in my love for heights. Being so high in the air makes me feel powerful like I can take on the world. I also like being closer to God and nature. A plane in the clouds is the best way to do that.

Q&A with Shalese Nicole Heard of Autistic Travel Goddess hawaii

Photo Credit: Shalese Nicole Heard

Rail is my favorite, most relaxing way to see scenery that you wouldn’t otherwise see. It is also a smooth ride, with no stressful traffic. Trains have always been my ‘thing’ since childhood.

Any place you would NEVER travel to?

I recently read about Ft. McMurray, Alberta, and found it too depressing to travel to, based on what I have read and how it appears. It is huge in the oil industry, and the natives complain about how expensive the cost of living is there. Also, it doesn’t seem to be much there in terms of activities and sites. The only thing that would make me go is the Northern lights, but then I could see that elsewhere!

I used to think I would travel EVERYWHERE. The more I travel, the more important the vibes are to me. If I feel a place is rather dull and depressing; I no longer desire to travel there. Not just Ft. McMurray, but also any place that gives off that appearance is off my list of places to see.

Five items you always take along while traveling?

I always take my headphones- listening to good music implants the memory of the feeling I get when going on that trip. Every time I hear that song, I remember my first time on a trip. A camera, a good book to read during long wait and a stylish outfit/accessory as a confidence booster in a new place. Even if I don’t wear it, just the act of having it with me gives me a sense of my uniqueness to offer the new location I am visiting. I always bring my slippers- they are my ‘stim’ toys and give me something soft to rub my feet on (cleaner than hotel carpet). And let me not forget my favorite snack of all time, POPCORN. Popcorn has all sorts of exciting, positive memories for me and it’s a conveniently healthy travel food that keeps my hunger in check!

Q&A with Shalese Nicole Heard of Autistic Travel Goddess mask

Photo Credit: Shalese Nicole Heard

Are you a theme park lover or hater?

Love. Love, Love theme parks! The faster, higher the roller coasters are the better it is!

Where would you travel if money was no object?

If money were no object, my dream vacation would be a cruise around the world. Being on a ship, going to different continents surely would teach me about the earth we live on. I would like that voyage to include Antarctica, Greenland and the most remote areas of the world. The earth is a beautiful place, and there’s so much to see. My dream vacation would allow me to see EVERY corner. Surfing in Fiji, and petting penguins in Antarctica are the greatest gifts to life.


Q&A with Shalese Nicole Heard of Autistic Travel Goddess SNOW

Photo Credit: Shalese Nicole Heard

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