Lodging

Unless you are taking a day trip, you will need to consider lodging accommodations for your family. Some children love hotels with swimming pools and those magical vending machines. Others are overwhelmed with unfamiliar surroundings.

The Home of Family or Friends

Perhaps you will be visiting the home of family or friends. In some instances, this can be reassuring to the child with special needs. For example, an autistic child thrives on routine and predictable environments. Grandma's house might provide that — unless she rearranges her furniture often. Even a simple change like new dishes could be upsetting to the child who is counting on things to be the same.

Talk to your hostess ahead of time. Try to give her a glimpse of how your child functions at home.

Hotels

Sometimes hotels are an alternative to staying at the too busy/too noisy/too crowded home of a friend or relative. A hotel room can offer a place for your family to have some privacy and to regroup. Hotel swimming pools are a great place for many kids with special needs to relax. Water is therapeutic for many, and it offers included-in-the-price family fun.

Hotels do have some drawbacks. Unless your family has stayed at the same motel previously (and it has not changed its décor and you have the same room), the environment will be different to your child.

Essential

Remember that a child on the autism spectrum recognizes the smallest differences in routine and physical setting. If she is dependent on routine and a predictable environment, staying overnight away from home can be disturbing. She may spend the entire time getting used to her new surroundings.

RVs and Tents

Some families avoid the upsetting lodging dilemma by taking home with them. Using an RV or even camping in a tent allows them to keep the setting relatively the same. The family has its privacy and does not have to be concerned with others in close proximity. If public restrooms and showers are used, however, that can upset an otherwise peaceful arrangement.

Timeshares

Another home-away-from-home option is staying at a timeshare type of property. Timeshare property might be something in which you have partial ownership, a place that you are renting from the owners, or a property owned and used by your extended family.

Like Grandma's house, it is a familiar environment as long as things have not been replaced or rearranged. If furniture has been moved, you may find yourself putting things back so that you and your child can rest easy!

If you are aware ahead of time that changes have been made, you can prepare your child by showing her pictures (the before-and-after kind of snapshots) before you arrive. When she sees the new arrangement, she may still be upset, but at least she won't be surprised by the differences.

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