Theme Park Tips for Autism Families
If you’re like many parents with a child on the spectrum, you may intentionally avoid theme parks in fear of having to deal with a major meltdown. After all, theme parks are loud, noisy and very crowded, which is the perfect recipe for a major sensory overload.
While that is true, a better understanding of autism has made it easier for families with autistic children to enjoy a fun day at the park. Establishments understand the special challenges these children and their families face when visiting their facilities.
This knowledge has led management to take steps to make accommodates to meet these special needs. As a result, the extra services provided make it easier for all families, including those with autistic children, to enjoy the fun and excitement that theme parks have to offer. Check out these great theme park tips for autism families below.
The following theme park tips will help make your visit a fun and pleasant experience:
- Choose the right park – You have several different options to choose from when visiting a theme park. Some focus on water rides, some have animals and crafts and others are famous for their amazing roller coasters. Think about the things your family enjoys and choose the park that best suits your needs. For example, if your child loves getting wet, a water park might be the best option for you.
- Consider your child’s strengths and weaknesses when planning your itinerary – If your child has trouble walking for long periods, schedule in lots of breaks between rides. There are usually plenty of places where you can sit down and relax when needed. Plan your strenuous activities first when your child is well-rested and avoid activities that make them nervous or uncomfortable.
- Take advantage of the services – Some of the services many theme parks offer include disability boarding passes, special entrances for rides that allow you to avoid the long lines, programs that match you with the best rides and specially trained staff that are educated on autism. Visit the guest relations department or information desk upon entering the park to take advantage of these services. It should help alleviate some of the stress.
- Don’t forget your child’s special gear – This includes dark sunglasses if your child is sensitive to light or noise-canceling headphones if loud noises upset him. You should also include sunscreen, change of clothes, medication, special snacks and one or two comfort items just in case your child does get upset at some point.
- Pick up a brochure of the park you plan to visit – Use the pictures to help your child get an idea of what the park will be like. You can also visit the park’s website to see photos of and learn more about the attractions it has to offer. It will help familiarize your child with the park and give you a chance to find out which activities he is most interested in trying.
- Plan out your day – Most brochures include maps of the theme park, which you can use to mark out your destinations before you go. This will allow you to create the best route to navigate the park so you can hit all the hot spots your family will enjoy the most and avoid the areas that don’t interest you.
- Have a family discussion before you go – When visiting a theme park you want to make sure the whole family has a good time. Explain to all your children why certain attractions should be avoided so you don’t have to have that discussion when you get there. Answer all questions and settle all disagreements before you go, so everyone will be on the same page when you arrive at the park.
Visiting a theme park is a great way to bond with your family and create memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. It’s something you’ll reminisce about at family gatherings when your kids are all grown up. It may be a little more challenging with a child on the spectrum but it’s certainly worth the effort.
Plan a trip to your favorite theme park and use these tips to help ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. They won’t completely eliminate the possibility of a meltdown but careful planning and taking advantage of the services provided by the theme park can help reduce the chances.