A family holiday can feel out of reach for many people with children who have complex sensory and communication needs. Vicki Cox, Speech Pathologist with Everyday Independence, understands how difficult it can be to support young children and teens who struggle with the challenges of a major change in routine experienced on an overseas holiday.
“A teenager with ASD may have trouble processing the sensory challenges of a long plane trip as well as the change in her environment and everyday routines in a foreign country. The key is in the preparation,” said Vicki.
Vicki supported one family in Sydney to achieve their goals of a well deserved trip to Greece. Together, she and Emily, a young teen with ASD, created a physical “social story”, a pictorial map of what she could expect when she would check in at the airport, get on the plane, sit in the seat for a long time, when she would get her meals, how she could access her iPad or the in-flight entertainment system and what she may see when she arrives. The family used this map to walk through her upcoming experiences until they were confident Emily would anticipate the major events.
At the same time, Vicki supported Emily to anticipate and communicate her needs in the context of a long-haul flight – how to speak with a flight attendant, how she can express what she wants.
The family had a successful practice run to Melbourne, putting her map to the test and Emily anticipated the environment in the airport and the plane.
And finally, the family travelled to Greece. Emily was able to participate fully in the experience of meeting her extended family and visiting the world-famous sites of this ancient land.
Even better, they can now take short holidays that weren’t thought possible before, such as to the Gold Coast theme parks and a trip to Hawaii is on the agenda!
“Supporting a person with ASD to achieve things they did not know possible requires understanding, preparation and planning in incremental steps,” Vicki said.
If you would like Vicki, or one of our Speech Pathologists, to support your and your child’s goals, call us on 1300 179 131