Autism-friendly ideas for your family's next vacation

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Summer is here and that means that it’s time to plan your summer vacations. While many of you will be heading to the beaches and lakes to soak in the sun and keep cool, there are a plethora of autism-friendly establishments to consider when planning your vacations this summer, and every other season throughout the year. Here are some of our top picks of family friendly destinations, activities, and places to visit that help cater toward children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for your next vacation.

#1: Flower Child Restaurants: While this restaurant isn’t a vacation destination on it’s own, these restaurants are definitely worth planning a visit to the next time you are traveling in an area where one is located. Flower Child restaurants offer minimal stimulation for children with autism and strive to be as autism-friendly as possible.

#2: Beaches all-inclusive Caribbean Resorts: Every staff member at Beaches resorts is trained in autism awareness and the key principles included in Sesame Street’s “See Amazing in All Children” autism initiative. These resorts offer a variety of special needs friendly activities from swimming pools and beaches to Kid’s Camp.

#3: Austin, Texas: Since there is so much to do when it comes to autism-friendly accommodations and activities for the family in this city, we listed it as an ideal vacation destination. The Wyndham Garden Hotel in Austin has autism-friendly rooms with special quiet locations, baskets filled with snacks and games, and special safety features. They also ensure that all surfaces and carpets are cleaned with chemical-free cleaners. Other ASD-friendly activities in Austin include: Barton Springs for swimming, the Austin Aquarium, Austin Nature and Science Center, Thinkery Children’s Museum, and various places to bike and hike as a family.

#4: The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts: The Berkshires offer numerous activities for families with an autistic child. Many of the accommodations and activities are quiet and relaxing with low levels of stimulation. There are also several activities to do at the surrounding lakes, hiking trails, local farms, etc.

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#5: Camping: Camping is an ideal vacation activity that can fit into anyone’s budget and be done nearly anywhere. Campsites range from rustic to modern in terms of amenities and offer natural surroundings with much peace and quiet. There are also typically many activities to do while camping such as hiking and swimming if the campsite is near a lake or beach.

#6: A Caribbean Cruise: Caribbean cruises offer a variety of activities for families with a child who has ASD to enjoy. The best part about a Caribbean cruise is that it can be enjoyed during the winter months. Royal Caribbean was the first cruise line to announce that it is “autism friendly” and offers a variety of modified programs, movies and sensory-related toys for children with autism. The entire staff is also trained in autism awareness. Other cruise lines that are ASD friendly include Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and Carnival.

#7: An autism-friendly family park or resort: Depending on your family’s interests, there’s likely an ASD-friendly family theme park or resort that fulfills your needs. There are so many autism-friendly resorts and theme parts that we couldn’t fit them all in this blog. Here is a list of the more popular ones:

Wherever the summer or your future travels take you, we hope they are enjoyable adventures that everyone in your family can share. If you’d like a bit of extra support for your family in the Great Falls, Montana area we have a variety of classes and services available to help your family and loved ones thrive. Feel free to contact us or fill out our contact form to be placed on our waiting list and receive additional information about the services our team at Big Sky Therapeutic Services provides.

Jayna Nickert