4. Create Their ‘Space’
When you get on the plan, it’s important to create a sense of familiarity for your child, and provide them a space where they can feel safe. Things like noise-cancelling headphones, a heavy blanket, and a distraction (like an iPad or book) are all great ideas. Also, remember to take things that they specifically enjoy, such as a favourite toy or pillow they feel comforted to have close to them.
5. Take Favourite Foods
Airplane food is rarely satisfying, and even less so when you’re dealing with a picky child on the spectrum. Often, an unavailability of the foods that they enjoy can be a trigger for children with autism, so bypass this by bringing your own familiar foods that they can enjoy. If they’re not into eating a lot at once, snacks can be a great way to break up the trip into manageable sections, where kids can be tempted to remain calm through food rewards.
6. Educate Those Around You
People can be pretty thoughtless about their comments and criticisms, often not seeing or caring that they’re adding stress to your experience. It takes a lot of courage to speak up for yourself, and we aren’t necessarily encouraging you to get into fights with other passengers. But if your child does have a meltdown on the plane, there isn’t always anything you can do. Be open, and honest, with those around you, explaining your child’s diagnosis and that things can get pretty overwhelming for them. If that’s too much, an autism awareness t-shirt usually does the trick!