For most parents of an autistic child, being in the car is difficult for their child immediately from birth (long before they are diagnosed). While other parents were driving their babies around to help get them to sleep, you were doing quite the opposite; avoiding driving anywhere with your baby altogether. I remember taking a trip to grandma’s house when my son was a baby, he screamed the entire way there, and the entire drive back. It was a three hour journey and everyone in the car was miserable afterwards. That day is high on my parenting is hard list, but we’ve had many, many, car trips in the past six years that our son wasn’t able to enjoy. Sometimes our everyday travels to the store ignite a fury of kicking, screaming, punching, and crying. The only way to make them easier for him is for us to try to stay as prepared as possible by keeping supplies in the car that he may need.
5 Things You Need When Traveling with an Autistic Child
I. Never leave home without a go-to snack and drink. Many of my son’s difficult moments are centered around him being hungry or thirsty. Things can go downhill very quickly if we are somewhere without access to food or drink for him.
II. Wet wipes. After the food and drink, wet wipes are a must.
III. Hand towel. Sometimes drinks spill, water comes in during an afternoon rain shower, or life happens and something gets wet unacceptably — always have a towel.
IV. Spare clothing (shoes, socks, underwear, shirt, pants.) This gives your child options if something arises that is bothersome to them (itchy shirt, bathroom accident, spilled drink, etc.)
V. Distractions. Keep items your child finds interesting in the car so they are handy. My son likes bugs/snakes or electronics. He has a plush snake in the car he likes to hold or an old cell phone that has games on it. While these items are always available to him to use in the car, we usually use them to distract him when something arises he isn’t happy about.
What do you keep in the car for your child?